McCain to Obama to McCain: 'I will if you will. Or maybe I won't'

Based on an apparent assumption that Obama wins the nomination -- though of course that is not a given -- McCain in various campaign trail appearances has been calling on Obama to honor a pledge he had made last year that Obama would take only public funding if a Republican rival agreed to do the same.

Based on an apparent assumption that Obama wins the nomination -- though of course that is not a given -- McCain in various campaign trail appearances has been calling on Obama to honor a pledge he had made last year that Obama would take only public funding if a Republican rival agreed to do the same.

Initially, political analysts considered McCain's challenge a savvy, preemptive attack on Obama. But is the continued focus on “special interests” now backfiring for McCain? Lots of stories are appearing on McCain's attempt to back out of the use of public financing for the remainder of the primary elections. Also, his alleged personal ties to a telecom lobbyist in DC, though aggressively denied, not just by the McCain camp but the Republican establishment, may potentially raise the perception of hypocrisy, fair or not.

Obama so far has rather artfully dodged McCain's challenge by asking whether 527s – think: “Swift Boat” group – would also fall under this proposed deal. The associated tumult over public financing does seem to have sparked new media outreach of one form or another by advocates of no-limit, “transparent” political donations as well supporters of restrictions on campaign contributions.

Given public financing is a complicated (and therefore boring) issue for most people, the fallout for McCain may not be especially significant. But it has put the spotlight on the presumptive Republican nominee during a time when the GOP was hoping the public spotlight would focus on Obama-Clinton fisticuffs.

The focus on McCain and Obama is also not great for the Clinton campaign, aiding the perception that she's fading from view. Newsweek's political blogger Andrew Romano is even asking readers to speculate how they would “save” Clinton's campaign.

Also …

Huckabee giving paid speeches while on the campaign trail.

Past-election spoiler Nader to discuss his plans (threats?) for '08.

Romney spent $42.3 million on his own campaign, which was more than Forbes but less than Perot.

More inside info on the Clinton's camp divided thinking on messaging

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