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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
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: Customer Support Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Support Engineer is required to join a well-...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Administrator - Swedish Speaking

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Manager is required to join the m...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Consultant - Mobile - OTE £35,000

£14000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent telecoms compa...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum