RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
John McCain's name has long been linked with the issue of campaign finance reform, after years of debate over the McCain-Feingold Act. Now, Barack Obama is staking a claim on that issue as well. NPR's Peter Overby has details.
PETER OVERBY: Obama has spurned lobbyists and PAC money ever since he declared for president. Yesterday, wielding his new power as party leader, he told the national party committee to swear off too. He was speaking in Bristol, Virginia.
Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois, Presumptive Presidential Nominee): We will not take a dime from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs. We're going to change how Washington works. They will not fund my party, they will not run our White House and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I'm president of the United States of America.
OVERBY: Obama also dispatched a close adviser, consultant Paul Tues to the DNC, where he'll be working with Chairman Howard Dean. Lobbyists have been fundamental to most modern presidential campaigns and controversial too. But never before have they gotten this pariah treatment as Obama and McCain joust to be the reformer of Washington's sinful ways.
Of course neither candidate is totally pure. Obama may not want money from lobbyists but he'll take advice from some of them. McCain is okay with the cash, but last month he purged his staff. Lobbyists had to choose between their campaign positions and their lobbying gigs. Obama is also out front on fundraising transparency. He says that from now on reporters can come inside of his money events. McCain, despite his reformer reputation, doesn't do that. A reporter asked him why.
Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona, Presumed Presidential Nominee): Thank you. It's because the people who are fundraising the money request that.
OVERBY: So, bottom line: what does it cost the DNC to take the Obama pledge? Well, lobbyists and PACs account for just seven percent of the paltry $4 million that the DNC has in the bank. On the other hand, Obama has one-and-a-half million donors eager to give more.
Political scientist Tony Corrado.
Mr. TONY CORRADO (Political Scientist): You're giving up what will probably be a couple of million dollars worth of funding in exchange for, hopefully, tens of millions of dollars in individual contribution.
OVERBY: So, for Democrats it may be a chance to do well while looking good.
Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.
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