Forget "lipstick on a pig" and "bridge to nowhere" — one of the most grating untruths of this campaign is that Barack Obama somehow cravenly decided not to accept public financing while the honorable John McCain did. Anybody paying 2% attention could figure out that McCain accepted public financing during the primary then tried to pull a fast one when he became the nominee by completely flauting the law and withdrawing without permission. When FEC chairman David Mason said he couldn’t do that, George Bush had him fired.
And now we see that he is doing exactly what everyone knew he was going to — ignore the public financing laws once again:
Most of the campaign ads that Sen. John McCain began airing Sept. 1 are taking a glancing shot at Democrats in Congress — often just a two-second jab at the Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid.
This is not because the McCain campaign has suddenly decided the best strategy to defeat Sen. Barack Obama is to run against other top Democrats in Congress. It’s because of a loophole in the public financing laws that allows McCain to evenly split the cost of his ads with the Republican Party so long as the ads make at least a passing reference to the rest of the party’s ticket.
Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group and Tim Kay of National Cable Communications — two top media analysts — both said they’ve noticed a growth in this emerging type of ad, known as a hybrid.
"Pretty much every spot they’ve done has been a hybrid ad," Tracey said.
How do the ads save McCain money? Well, consider that McCain has $84 million to spend between now and Election Day — that’s the federal allotment of money he decided to take during the general election contest. While the Republican National Committee will devote much of its privately financing to field operations, microtargeting, and voter contact, McCain will spend most of his public funding on television ads. If McCain can split the cost of his ads 50-50 with the party, he is essentially able to stretch his public dollars twice as far.
As Jerome says, "That $84M given to McCain for public financing is looking more and more like a freebie."
I’m writing frequently over at the Campaign Silo during the election so please join me — jh