By The Bakersfield Californian
President Barack Obama has railed against the Citizens United decision, once calling it "a threat" to our democracy. He has ranted about the outsized influence of corporate money in politics. He has pledged not to accept campaign contributions from lobbyists. But he made it clear this week that when it comes to getting re-elected, he can conveniently set those principles aside.
Obama and his campaign managers are now encouraging fundraisers to give to Priority USA Action, the dominant Democratic super PAC, which can accept unlimited donations, including contributions from lobbyists. The move came after recent disclosures showed Republican PACs have raised close to $100 million in the last year while Priorities USA Action raised less than $5 million.
"We're not going to fight this fight with one hand tied behind our back," Jim Messina, Obama's re-election campaign manager, said in an interview. "With so much at stake, we can't allow for two sets of rules. Democrats can't be unilaterally disarmed."
Obama had other options. He has the power of incumbency on his side and established fundraising power. He's already amassed a substantial campaign war chest, mainly from small donations. A new Campaign Finance Institute report found that in 2011, Obama raised more money in aggregate from small-dollar donors -- $56.3 million -- than Romney, the leading GOP fundraiser, raised overall.
Instead of harnessing this people power, Obama has bet on unlimited funds from the very groups he claims are destroying democracy to fuel his re-election -- and invited his critics to properly label him a hypocrite.