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The Candidates on Campaign Finance


Over the weekend, Mitt Romney called for repealing McCain-Feingold. Which made me wonder about the candidates’ record on the issue. McCain’s we know about.

Romney, it turns out, has–surprise, surprise–been on both sides of campaign-finance reform. In his 1994 race, Romney came out for banning political action committees, limiting spending on federal races (something the Supreme Court has not allowed), and opposed allowing larger contributions. All told, those positions place him to the left of McCain-Feingold, which doubled the allowable size of individual donations to candidates. In his 2002 race, he took the position that campaign contributions should be taxed at a 10 percent race, with the proceeds going to public funding of all campaigns.

Rudy Giuliani came out for McCain-Feingold in 2000, saying that he agreed with McCain. He has bragged about his role in inspiring campaign-finance reform in New York City. He wanted to ban soft money and criticized the state’s contribution limits for being too generous.

People who believe that campaign-finance reform is an attack on free speech may legitimately regard McCain as the worst of these three candidates because he fought year after year to enact a federal law on it, but they won’t be able to look at the other candidates’ records with great enthusiasm. Sam Brownback has a record they will like better, but even it isn’t perfect.


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