Political rivals unite to fight donations `plague'

IN AN event without precedence in American politics, two presidential candidates from opposing parties joined forces yesterday to challenge what they called the "plague" of the political funding system.

Meeting in the small town of Claremont in New Hampshire, the former Democratic senator Bill Bradley and Senator John McCain shook hands and signed a pledge to limit the amount and nature of financial contributions, should either become President.

"Although we disagree about many things," Mr Bradley said, "we join together for a higher purpose: to bring an end to the plague of money in our politics."

Mr McCain added: "We should be fighting the battle of ideas, not the battle of bucks."

While the event was dubbed by reporters, "the summit of the underdogs", both Mr Bradley, who is challenging Vice-President Al Gore for the Democratic nomination, and Mr McCain, who is emerging as the chief rival to George W Bush for the Republican nomination, have attracted unexpectedly strong support to the point where they have a chance of winning their respective primary elections in New Hampshire.

Polls show that disgust with the role of big money in politics is a major reason for the steady decline in turnout even in national elections and the widespread contempt felt towards politicians. Many supporters of Mr Bradley and Mr McCain are political neophytes who aredrawn to these campaigns by the donations issue alone.

Both Mr Bradley and Mr McCain want an end to so-called "soft money" contributions, the huge donations made mostly by big business to campaign coffers, which are made - many suspect - in the expectation of favourable treatment by legislators. Whether impropriety exists is disputed, but the practice - both Mr McCain and Mr Bradley believe - gives the "impression" of impropriety.

While agreeing wholeheartedly that reform is needed, the two disagree about exactly what form it should take. Mr Bradley favours the use of public money to fund campaigns; Mr McCain would require all contributions to be made by individuals and not by organisations or companies. They voiced their differences clearly yesterday, plainly aware they are also competing for votes.

Long-time proponents of campaign finance reform, neither can be accused of "sour grapes". Mr Bradley in particular is an expert fundraiser in the current system, and Mr McCain's contributions are gathering pace, although they both lag behind Mr Bush's spectacular fundraising run. Their acceptance of donations from big business has led to accusations of hypocrisy, but they contend that until the system is changed they have no choice.

There is fierce resistance to change from those who benefit most by the current arrangements. The most recent attempt at reform was rejected by Congress earlier in the year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...