THE RACE: Obama, Romney nixing fed campaign funds

April 16, 2012 - 11:38 AM
GOP Assembly

Supporters take the stage as Senator John Thune, of South Dakota, speaks on behalf of Mitt Romney during the Colorado Republican State Assembly and Convention at the Ritchie Center, Saturday, April 14, 2012 in Denver. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Craig F. Walker) MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET OUT

President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney don't want your three bucks.

Sure, they'll happily take direct contributions. But for the first time since public financing of presidential campaigns began in 1976, both major-party candidates will likely turn down federal subsidies for their general-election campaigns— and avoid the red tape and spending limits that come with the money.

The public financing comes via $3 check-off boxes at the top of tax forms.

Breaking a campaign pledge, Obama opted out of the public financing program in 2008 and went on to raise $750 million. He swamped GOP nominee John McCain, who was limited to spending the $84 million he got from taxpayers. Romney won't get caught in that trap. Instead, he's on track to raise $600 million.

Both parties, however, will still take $17.7 million each in federal money for their conventions.

Only one Republican took federal matching money for the primaries: former Louisiana Gov. Charles "Buddy" Roemer, who qualified for $285,470 before deciding in February to run as an independent.

By the way, both Obamas checked the $3 yes box on their joint 2011 tax return. The Romneys checked it on their 2010 forms but have yet to release their 2011 returns.

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