Opening Act: Money is Speech, My Friend

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 30 2011 8:52 AM

Opening Act: Money is Speech, My Friend

Scott Conroy talks to Mitt Romney about an ideal campaign finance regime.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Asked whether he supported a system that permitted unlimited individual donations directly to candidates, Romney replied, “Yes.”
“Yeah, what we have right now is unlimited political contributions, but they’re not controlled by the campaigns,” he said. “They’re controlled by unaffiliated or uncoordinated entities, which, in my opinion, is the worst of both worlds. It means that large contributions have a big impact, and it means that the campaign can’t control them, so if we’re going to have big contributors, wouldn’t it be nice to have the campaigns responsible for what those contributors say?”
Romney’s call to eliminate the $2,500 limit that individuals are allowed to give directly to candidates in each election cycle is sure to raise alarms among campaign finance watchdogs, but the former Massachusetts governor shrugged off any suggestion that such a change would worsen the perception that big money buys outsized influence in Washington.
“We already have unlimited contributions,” Romney said, referring to the super PAC rules. “The question is: Is the campaign going to be responsible for them or is the campaign going to not have control of its own message?”
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Andy Kaczynski, continuing on his task of making all other reporters irrelevent, brings back video of Romney in 1994 -- a distant, misty past when people cared about stuff like term limits and campaign finance reform -- talking about ways to take money out politics.

Is Romney inconsistent, or did he evolve? Even John McCain's evolved, basically giving up on any chance of reforming campaign finance law. And he's right about something, even if he says it through thick crocodile tears -- the Super PAC system is ridiculous. It's ridiculous to hear Restore America Now pile on Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, with an audio tag announcing that it was "no supported by any candidate or committe."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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