Obama Decides to Accept Super PAC Donations

The president realizes that outside money is an unavoidable part of the political process.

Posted: 02/07/2012 05:24 PM EST
Bill Burton, Priorities USA, Super PAC, President Obama, 2012 Presidental election, Mitt Romney

President Obama has made no secret of his disdain for super PACS. After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing corporations to anonymously donate unlimited amounts of money to these political action committees, Obama expressed concern that wealthy donors, including special interest groups and foreign corporations, would have too much influence over election outcomes. Although they cannot coordinate directly with campaigns, they have played a major role in the Republican primary process through millions of dollars spent on negative advertising.


After witnessing the way potential rival Mitt Romney has thrashed his opponents on the Republican campaign trail, Obama’s campaign has realized that if he wants to beat Romney — or whomever he’ll face this fall — he’d better join him and will accept support from Priorities USA, a super PAC run by two former Obama aides. White House officials and cabinet members, excluding the vice president and first lady, will be dispatched to speak at fundraising activities hosted by the PAC.


According to Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, it’s a matter of leveling the playing field. In a blog posting he wrote that the campaign “can’t allow for two sets of rules” in which the Republican presidential nominee gains an advantage from “unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm.”


“We decided to do this because we can’t afford for the work you’re doing in your communities, and the grass roots donations you give to support it, to be destroyed by hundreds of millions of dollars in negative ads,” he said.


Restore Our Future, a super PAC supporting Romney, has collected $17.9 million since July, much of which was spent pummeling Newt Gingrich in Iowa and Florida. Priorities USA raised about $1.2 million.


In a conference call with reporters Tuesday morning, a senior campaign official said that the re-election team is confident that the campaign itself will give Obama the edge but they can’t afford to have “millions and millions of dollars” drowning out their message.


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