Clinton Backs Public Funding For Campaigns Despite Record Haul

Monday, April 2nd 2007, 3:43 pm
By: News On 6

ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) _ A day after her campaign announced a record breaking fundraising haul, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday she would support public funding of campaigns if elected president next year.

At an event where she picked up the endorsement of New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, the New York senator said she would continue the fundraising pace that helped bring in $26 million for her presidential bid between January 1 and March 31. But, Clinton said, she hoped a different system could one day be enacted.

``I believe we have to move, eventually in our country, toward a system of public financing that really works for candidates running for federal office. I will support that as president,'' she said.

In fact, Clinton's campaign was the first to completely opt out of the public funding system that has existed for more than 30 years. Her advisers believe she can raise more money on her own _ both in the primary and in the general election if she becomes her party's nominee _ than she would have been eligible to receive under the current system.

Other candidates have since followed suit, including Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

While Clinton's first quarter fundraising figures were impressive, experts believe Obama, Clinton's leading rival for the Democratic nomination, will come close to matching Clinton's total. His campaign was expected to announce fundraising figures Wednesday.

``I think it is a real tribute to the American people, particularly the Democrats across our country, that there's so much enthusiasm and energy behind this election already,'' she said when asked about Obama's fundraising. ``I'm thrilled, because the more we get out a Democratic message in the primary, the easier it will be for me to actually win the general election.''

For his part, Corzine called Clinton ``remarkable'' and said she would end the Iraq war if elected president. The two served together in the Senate until Corzine was elected governor in 2005.

It was Clinton's first formal endorsement from a sitting governor, although others, including Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, have indicated they are likely to support her.

Corzine's endorsement came a day after he signed legislation moving New Jersey's primary to give the state greater influence in selecting presidential contenders. It will join several other large states, including Florida, New York and California, to host a presidential primary on Feb. 5, 2008.

New Jersey is a Democratic-leaning state that twice gave its electoral votes to Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton.

More recently, a majority of state voters backed the failed runs of Democrats Al Gore and John Kerry.

A Quinnipiac University poll in February had Clinton with 41 percent of the vote in a New Jersey Democratic Party primary, compared to 19 percent for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.