Obama’s PAC pledge – can the party do the same?

Early on in the campaign, Barack Obama pledged not to let money from Political Action Committees or lobbyists fund his campaign or his party. (PACs are groups of voters who are allowed to contribute a maximum of $5000 to a campaign, as opposed to individual donors who can only give up to $2300). And so far, he’s done pretty well without them. Senator Obama has raised just over $265 million since the campaign began, with basically all of it coming from individual donations, and none from PACs. But for a party that wants to increase its lead in the House and Senate (not to mention win the Presidency), Obama’s vow might not work.

While someone like Senator Obama can rely on massive crowds at rallies and speeches to bring in money, candidates in Congressional races would have a much harder time generating that kind of support, meaning they basically need PACs to win. So the question for Democrats is this: do they take the PAC money (making the field of House seats they could win in November even wider) or reject the support (and possibly lose seats they could have had, given the financial backing)?

The way I see it, Senator Obama shouldn’t have generalized his position to the entire party. The Democrats realize they have an opportunity to take quite a few seats this year, and if breaking Obama’s pledge means picking up a big chunk of Congress they don’t have much of a choice. If the Democrats really want those seats, they’ll need to take PAC money – Presidential campaigns with daily free exposure can survive without PACS, but a challenger trying to knock off an incumbent in rural Ohio can’t. This will be a tough pill for Obama to swallow, but I doubt he’ll mind so much if it means an Obama Presidency with full Congressional support.

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