INTERNATIONAL

Howard Dean rejects Federal campaign funds

Washington Nov. 10. The former Governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, has rejected federal matching funds making him the first ever Democratic candidate to reject the public financing of Presidential elections that came about in the post Watergate era. "Instead of getting $ 2000 from the heads of all the major corporations in America, we ask 2 million Americans to give $ 100", Mr. Dean said in a major announcement on Saturday.

By foregoing public financing, Mr. Dean can spend unrestricted amounts of money in the primaries. "We believe 2 million Americans will borrow $ 100 simply for the pleasure of sending this President back to Crawford, Texas". The Vermonter's decision has come as a surprise to his own party and has left some of the candidates wondering if they should also follow the act. The U.S. President, George W Bush, has already decided to forego public financing and his campaign is on a collection spree and is estimated in some quarters to rake in nearly $ 200 millions.

Mr. Dean who at one time was an avid backer of the public financing system argued that he has been left with no real choice in the matter. The decision of Mr. Dean came after his campaign asked some 60,000 of its supporters nationwide in an on-line survey if the candidate should opt out; and 85 per cent said that he should. The main argument of the Democratic front runner is that a person who accepts public finding for the primaries stands to be outspent by a 4-to-1 margin by Mr. Bush. "The unabashed actions of this President to undercut the democratic process with floods of special interest money have forced us to abandon a broken system", Mr. Dean remarked.

"Our campaign is campaign reform. Over 200,000 people have given us an average of $ 77", he said. Political analysts are making the point that in rejecting public financing, Mr. Dean has showed the real power of his fund raising ability which far surpasses all other Democratic candidates. For instance since January, Mr. Dean has collected — largely through the internet — about $ 25 millions. In just two days last week his backers pledged more than $ 5 millions.

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