Ever since it became clear that Barack Obama’s record-breaking fund-raising juggernaut could make him richer than God during the general election, it was expected that he would eventually opt out of public financing, a system which would have given him about $85 million to spend after the convention, but would have capped private fund-raising. The only problem is that he had pledged to work within the public-financing system if his opponent did. This, then, won’t help dispel the notion that Obama is all talk. But will it actually damage Obama’s image, or is the issue just too boring for anyone to care about?
• Jake Tapper says Obama is hoping voters pay more attention to his declaration of independence from a “broken system” than his broken promise. [Political Punch/ABC News]
• Mark Halperin writes that if Obama had stayed within the public-financing system, “political pros in both parties would have accused his advisers of professional malpractice,” as “he would have been giving up the type of huge advantage the ambitious people rarely give up.” [Page/Time]
• David Weigel contends that McCain gave Obama an out when McCain-Feingold “sent big money surging into 527 groups” six years ago. Obama reasoned he would only accept public financing if 527s “were muzzled,” which is “an impossible demand.” Instead of hurting Obama, the decision is proof “that McCain’s signature accomplishment of the last decade” — campaign-finance reform — “was a bust.” [Hit & Run/Reason]
• Ben Smith notes that one of Obama’s reasons for opting out of public financing, the threat of “well-funded attacks from independent groups on behalf of John McCain,” has yet to materialize. [Politico]
• Eric Kleefeld expects the Republicans to “hammer” Obama “as a hypocrite” for going back on his pledge, but it remains to be seen whether “any attacks over opting out would actually have political pull.” [TPM Election Central]
• Jonathan Martin thinks the benefits “will almost surely outweigh a bad-process story in the dog days of June.” [Politico]
• Marc Ambinder predicts that the media will likely take Obama’s side. But while voters “generally don’t pay attention to this type of thing,” could they if McCain “puts it front and center on his mantle”? Ambinder also notes that the “potential money gap” between the campaigns is huge, as much as $150 million to $300 million. [Atlantic]
• Chuck Todd and friends note that “[c]ampaign-finance issues are always debated heavily on editorial pages, but not among voters.” McCain has two options, neither of which are promising: either take public financing and accept “the fact he’ll be outspent 3-1” or opt out of public financing and “get himself bogged down at fund-raisers in September instead of doing town halls.” [FirstRead/MSNBC]
• Jim Geraghty proclaims that “[t]he man makes promises he has no intention of keeping.” [Campaign Spot/National Review]
• Alex Koppelman writes that it’s “incredible” that Obama would try to portray “the decision as a risk financially,” when, in reality, he’s doing himself “a big, big favor.” [War Room/Salon] —Dan Amira
For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.