A significant shift by the president's team on outside funding carries political risks, but he could no longer afford to sulk on the sidelines.
The Obama campaign's announcement late Monday that it plans to publicly support fundraising for an allied outside political group is the final, stark admission that the president can no longer afford to keep the lightly regulated but increasingly influential political organizations at arm's length.
Writing in a blog post e-mailed to President Obama's supporters, campaign manager Jim Messina said that outside organizations known as super PACs have already raised tens of millions of dollars for Republican presidential candidates, thanks in large part to a change in campaign finance rules that allowed uncapped contributions. If it wanted to keep up, he said, the Obama campaign needed to "face the reality of the law as it currently stands" and support its own outside group, Priorities USA Action.
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"With so much at stake, we can't allow for two sets of rules in this election whereby the Republican nominee is the beneficiary of unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm," Messina said. "Therefore, the campaign has decided to do what we can, consistent with the law, to support Priorities USA in its effort to counter the weight of the GOP super PACs."