The Obama campaign’s announcement that they will support Dem Super PACs raises two question. First, does this move undercut Obama’s image as a progressive reformer? And second, will Obama aggressively campaign on a real push for campaign finance reform, including a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, as advocates hope he will?
On a conference call with reporters just now, Obama campaign officials tried to answer both questions. They wouldn’t say Obama would campaign on a push for an amendment, arguing that the political reality of the current Congress — with GOP control of the House — makes such an outcome unlikely at best.
Asked whether the Super PAC move amounts to an admission that the only way to win elections is to take money from extremely wealthy donors — and whether this dilutes the Obama message about GOP fealty to the rich — a senior Obama official insisted it didn’t. This official pointed out that the larger story remains the same: Obama’s campaign is fueled mostly by small donors; and his economic fairness agenda won’t change.
“Ninety eight percent of our donations are $25 or less,” the official said. ”Our message remains the same: We need to rebuild the economy for all Americans,” ensuring that “everybody pays their fair share, and everybody has a fair shot.”
“Wealthy Americans have every right to participate in elections,” the official continued. “But on the Republican side wealthy Americans and special interests — and in the case of Mitt Romney a significant amount of money from the financial sector — are playing a disproportionate role.”
“We’re not going to sit back and let them take over,” the official said.
Asked by me and by Firedoglake’s David Dayen whether Obama would explicitly call for a constitutional amendment on Citizens United, and campaign on it, a second official demurred.
“Should a constitutional amendment be necessary to reverse the worst aspets of the Citizens United law, he would support those efforts,” the official said. “But ultimately as we look at what’s possible this year, we recognize the reality of what the Republican Congress will and won’t support.”
“That doesn’t mean his commitment to reform isn’t there. But we’re recognizing the reality of the political situation. We’re going to need to elect a Democratic majority in Congress.”
The counterargument from campaign finance types: Voicing strong support for an amendment would reinforce the story Obama is trying to tell about the GOP’s wholesale devotion to preserving a system that’s rigged in favor of the rich and corporations, in the face of his fight to restore a level playing field for ordinary Americans.