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Obama's rejection of public funds threatens system

The New York Times reports: From the moment that the public financing system was created in the wake of the Watergate crisis, it was viewed as an imperfect way to rid politics of the excesses of special-interest money.

But now, with the decision by Senator Barack Obama to become the first presidential candidate to forgo public money, the system is facing the most critical threat to its survival.

At various times in its three-decade life, the public financing system has been declared close to its demise. Yet, every four years, it has continued to survive, with all presidential candidates since the system began in 1976 accepting public money to run their general election campaigns — and the spending limitations that come with it. ...

But Mr. Obama’s decision to opt out of public financing — along with the ability of the Internet to let candidates raise large sums of money from small donors — may do more to shatter the system than all of the loopholes it has spawned. --

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