From Bush Condemns Ads by Outside Groups
By DAVID ESPO
AP Special Correspondent
"I can't be more plain about it. And I wish - I hope my opponent joins me in saying - condemning these activities of the 527s. It's - I think they're bad for the system. That's why I signed the bill, McCain-Feingold."
Bush's comment about 527s was a reference to independent groups that raise money in unlimited amounts. The so-called McCain-Feingold bill, a campaign finance overhaul bill which Bush signed reluctantly earlier in his term, banned the political parties from raising such funds.
While Kerry and Democrats have demanded that Bush condemn the attack on his war record, the president has been targeted by an estimated $60 million in commercials by outside groups since the campaign began.
Kerry has declined to call for an end to those ads, which helped him at a time when he did not have the funds to compete with Bush' campaign advertising budget.
If you outlaw free speech, only outlaws will speak. That's a warning against applying the obvious next government solution - banning 527s. Better to repeal McCain-Feingold and the hard-money restrictions passed during the Ford administration and simply requiring full disclosure of big campaign contributors. Then the People can decide which stooge of which special-interest groups they like better.