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McCain Campaign Denies Negotiations With Obama

Fresh from a McCain campaign conference call on Sen. Barack Obama’s decision to forgo public funding in the general election. Trevor Potter, the McCain campaign general counsel, vehemently denied comments by his counterpart in the Obama campaign, Bob Bauer, that Potter had rejected negotiations. Here’s Potter’s account of a meeting that took place between the two campaign lawyers:

The first thing is, there were no negotiations. There were no attempted negotiations. There was no offer from the Obama campaign to negotiate. There were no communications from the Obama campaign to the McCain campaign suggesting negotiations or meetings between Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain.

The only thing there was is that I had a pre-scheduled meeting with Bob Bauer, the Obama campaign general counsel, shortly after the end of the Democratic primaries. This was a meeting on another matter. During the meeting, Bob said to me, "What is Sen. McCain’s current position on the presidential public funding system in the general election?"

I described to him that the senator was sticking by his pledge [and] hoped the Democratic nominee would also participate. The senator thought the system was a public good, that it had been going for a number of years and it had been successful.

Bob stated that the Obama campaign hadn’t decided what they were going to do and were thinking about it. He made a number of points and suggested there were problems with the system, or it was broken or it wasn’t necessary. I responded that Sen. McCain continued to believe that they system was useful, was not broken in terms of the general election public funding system, that everyone agreed there were problems with the primary system but not with the general. That was the end of the conversation….

There was no aggressive pursuit of negotiations with the McCain campaign. There was no pursuit, period, of negotiations with the McCain campaign. If Sen. Obama and his campaign wanted to pursue negotiations, their campaign manager was talking to Rick Davis on and off on a a variety of issues, such as Sen. McCain’s invitiation to Sen. Obama to participate in 10 town halls. In any one of those calls, their manager could have said, ‘We’d like to initiate negotiations about general election funding and set up negotiations on that.’ That never occurred. Sen. Obama said he was going to sit down directly with Sen. McCain and have this conversation. All Sen. Obama had to do was pick up a phone and say he wanted to have the conversation. That never occurred.

The meeting that Bob Bauer and I had was not a negotiation. I understand he has … said … I rejected further discussion and rejected an interest in an agreement. [That] is not correct. There was no rejection, and that’s true because there was no offer. I regarded the conversation…preparatory to potentially the Obama campaign initiating discussions — which they never initiated.

This is big. The McCain campaign is definitely not happy, and they’re going to make as much of an issue of it as possible. More coming soon from an Obama camp conference call…

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