Romney on Public Financing — It's Deja Vu All Over Again

On the eve of the Republican National Convention, is Mitt Romney having an attack of progressivism?

The presumptive GOP presidential nominee said some interesting things about campaign finance on Sunday, telling a Fox News interviewer that he “absolutely” would like to run for re-election in 2016 using public financing rather than relying on private fundraising.

The money chase of the 2012 campaign, which features a seemingly endless stream of closed-door events in which candidates and political action groups extract large checks from wealthy donors, “increases the potential of money having an influence in politics,” Romney said.

Romney insisted he would prefer to run under a public financing system, as presidential candidates did until Barack Obama turned down public money in 2008. Like Obama in 2008, Romney said he is running on private donations only because he needs to remain “competitive” and the public financing system won’t provide him with enough money to do so.

“While welcome, Mr. Romney’s comments are uncomfortably reminiscent of statements made during the 2008 campaign by then-candidate Barack Obama.”  Common Cause President Bob Edgar observed Monday. And as Edgar noted, Obama has failed to follow his vague promises of reform with substantial proposals to fix public financing and rein in spending on our elections.

Obama’s failure in this area has been one of the big disappointments of his presidency. And there’s really no reason to believe Romney would do better. His support for reform today is as vague as Obama’s was four years ago. And his party is downright hostile to reform – the House GOP engineered passage last year of a bill to repeal rather than fix the system; it failed only because Senate Democrats wouldn’t allow it to go forward.

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