Political rivals unite to fight donations `plague'
Friday 17 December 1999
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.
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...