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Edwards Eligible for Public Funds

Democrat John Edwards is now officially eligible to receive public matching funds for his presidential campaign, a milestone that could impact the race for caucus voters as the Jan. 3 Iowa contest approaches.

On the upside for Edwards, qualifying for federal funds could enable him to get a quick infusion of money -- enough to help him better compete with better-funded rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The maximum available to a candidate this year would be about $21 million. Technically, the money will become available in January, but typically candidates taking federal funds have taken out loans in the amount they will be due.

The downside for Edwards will be the spending caps imposed in exchange for taking the funds. For example, the most he will be permitted to spend in Iowa will be about $1.5 million. He spent more than $1.3 million there during the first nine months of the year. After the recent television buy he made there -- estimated by one rival to be upwards of $800,000 -- it would seem he close to hitting the ceiling, if not shattering it.

But the numbers are more complicated than that. All sorts of expenditures don't apply to the caps, including money spent on fundraising. If a portion of a circulating television ad is seen in neighboring states, a percentage of the buy is sliced out of the total as well.

"We're very comfortable that with the caps, the money we have available will allow us to wage a very aggressive campaign on TV, in the mail, and on the ground in Iowa," said Jonathan Prince, Edwards' deputy campaign manager. "We're taking every step to make sure we're totally compliant with all the rules."

--Matthew Mosk

By Washington Post editors  |  November 1, 2007; 7:06 PM ET
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This is good and bad. It is good because Edwards now has the money to further embellish his campaign, but it is bad because now Edwards will be viewed as weak and in need of money. Also, although Edwards is a strong candidate, Obama is a stronger candidate. He has better views. There are many other reasons why Obama is better, but that would take a while to list.

Posted by: doubleblackdiva323 | November 4, 2007 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Don't the rules allow candidates to exceed the state limits by 50% in four states?

Posted by: sfmandrew | November 2, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Accepting public financing is not a problem for Edwards. However, getting the national media to actually cover his campaign is far more difficult for his campaign.

Even after the Hilliary meltdown in the last debate the cable news shows are still focusing the majority of their coverage on Hilliary. The day after the debate they actually covered Edwards & Obama but yesterday (day 2) it was back to Hilliary all the time as if the debate never happened.

You would think that with the recent Project for Excellence in Journalism report that came out accusing the media (especially cable) of focusing on Hilliary and not giving candidates such as Edwards the coverage they should be getting (Edwards is after all in a 3 way tie in Iowa) that they would be shamed into covering the other candidates (at least for awhile!). Unfortunately for the voters the cable TV shows continue to shill for Hilliary.

I hope every voter that wants to see an election not a coronation gets in touch with the cable shows that keep marginalizing the other candidates and demand that they stop it. I also hope the print media really starts to hammer the cable shows that are doing this. It is shameless behavior and does a disservice to voters.

Posted by: pmorlan1 | November 2, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Edwards would love to be in a position where he has to worry about being outspent by the presumptive GOP nominee after the nomination races have been decided. The decision on how to handle that problem is the least of his worries.

The decision to take public financing was pretty black and white. If he does not take it, he will be drowned out by superior Clinton and Obama financial resources.

The cash infusion from public financing allows him to postpone the day of reckoning for a little while. Without it, he would cease to be a credible candidate.

Edwards is still not in a strong position but the decision to take public financing was a no brainer.

Posted by: danielhancock | November 2, 2007 3:06 AM | Report abuse

goldie, I'm sure your candidate has nothing to worry about But if you're really concerned that Edwards will guarantee a Clinton nomination, you'd better work that harder for your chosen one. Nothing in the future is ever guaranteed beyond death and taxes.

WRT "special interests" PACs/527s... how would having them working on ads for him (if he were to win the nomination) be going back on his pledge? They'd be getting money from contributers -- none of which Edwards would ever see -- so how do you figure he's getting their "special interest money"? If anything, he'd be accepting their aid (and gladly), but he hasn't pledged to go it alone, AFAIK.

As for Edwards, I'm sure this wasn't a spur-of-the-moment decision. If they budget well, and use their grass-roots supporters effectively, he may very well be in this thing longer than people think. We'll all just have to wait and see.

Posted by: machka | November 2, 2007 1:42 AM | Report abuse

This has made Edwards not viable as a nominee. If he should win there would be months where he could not spend money and the Repbulican candidate could. This would be a disaster. I don't know why he did this. He is backed into a corner. We can't have him as the nominee now. It won't work. And if he thinks he can rely on the DNC, and PACs and 527s to take up the slack, then that negates his pledge to not accept special interest money. Besides they won't be able to coordinate with him, so what kind of a campaign could he run? If Edwards doesn't back out of this, well it is all over for him. Him staying in the race will just ensure that Clinton will win and that would be a disaster as well.

Posted by: goldie2 | November 1, 2007 9:59 PM | Report abuse

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