McCain to Obama: keep your word on public funds

DALLAS (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Friday accused Democrat Barack Obama of breaking his word on campaign financing and said he might turn down public money for his campaign if Obama does so.

US Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) smiles during a roundtable of local business owners at a campaign stop in the Brooklyn borough in New York April 10, 2008. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

McCain, a senator from Arizona, is trailing far behind both Democratic candidates -- Illinois Sen. Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton -- in fundraising despite having wrapped up his party’s nomination for the White House contest in November.

Obama, the Democratic front-runner, pledged last year to accept public financing and its accompanying spending limit of an estimated $85 million for the general election if he wins the nomination and if his opponent also agreed to do so.

But with monthly hauls of some $55 million in February and more than $40 million in March, Obama appears to be rethinking that pledge.

“The fact is that he (Obama) is saying one thing and he’s doing another. I mean, that’s indisputable,” McCain told reporters in Dallas.

“He’s always talking in his speeches about how we need to keep our word with the American people. Please keep your word to the American people on the commitment you made in writing.”

McCain said he would decide later, if Obama beats Clinton for the Democratic nomination, how to proceed.

“If Sen. Obama is the nominee and decides not to take public financing then obviously we have to evaluate our options on it,” he said. “It’s possible that I still will (take public funds) and it’s possible that I won’t.”

So far in the campaign, Obama has raised over $233 million, Clinton $189 million and McCain around $80 million. With over a million individual donors and a well-oiled Internet fundraising campaign, Obama could expect to have a significant money advantage over McCain for the election.

McCain raked in more than $15 million last month, but that was well short of the $20 million raised by Clinton and the more than $40 million collected by Obama.

Obama said on Friday he would discuss the issue with McCain if he won the nomination.

“I would like to see a system preserved and I intend, if I am the nominee, to have conversations with Sen. McCain about how to move forward in a way that doesn’t allow third parties to overwhelm the system.”

(Editing by Alan Elsner)

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