In June, Obama said he was sticking with private financing because McCain would not promise “to stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups who will spend millions and millions of dollars in unlimited donations.” Today, we see the first of national ad by a third party group — true, the Republican National Committee is not a 527, but, like 527s, the RNC does not have to play by standard campaign finance rules. Here’s what they’re doing the money:
“Record gas prices, a climate in crisis. John McCain says solve it now. With a balanced plan — alternative energy, conservation, suspending the gas tax, and more production here at home. He’s pushing his own Party to face climate change,” the ad states, “But Barack Obama? For conservation, but he just says no to lower gas taxes. No to nuclear. No to more production. No new solutions. Barack Obama: Just the party line.”
I’m not even going to get into the actual policies presented in the ad. (Though I will note how much I love it when R’s argue that new production doesn’t have to produce immediately — rather, the mere idea of new production will lower prices! That’s right: John McCain will lower gas prices with his mind!) Instead, let’s examine the overarching message: Their damning smear against Obama is that he’s really… a Democrat. Because, yeah, that brand is so much trouble right now…
UPDATE: KT writes to clarify that political parties do have to obey a different set of finance laws :
While the parties are not subject to the SAME campaign finance laws as the campaigns, there are some very specific limits they have to live under.
Most important: unlike a 527, which can collect unlimited amounts from individual donors, there are very strict limits to how much an individual may donate to a national party. (That’s what the ban on “soft money” was all about.) State parties, however, can still collect soft money. Here’s a chart that lays it out.