Barack Obama

Ummm, how does that work?

WASHINGTON — Senior Obama administration officials confirmed on Thursday that President Barack Obama would be appearing at two super PAC events this election cycle to help support Democratic candidates.

The officials, who would speak only on condition that they not be quoted or identified, said that these events would not be fundraisers. Instead, the president would speak before gatherings hosted by House Majority PAC and Senate Majority PAC in order to draw an audience to their cause (electing House and Senate Democrats, respectively). After he was done and gone, they added, the checks would be exchanged.

But Obama’s decision to even make these appearances — which was¬†reported in late February¬†— reflects another step in his continued embrace of a campaign financing system that he has long deplored.

After the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling paved the way for super PACs to become major election players, the president and his allies sharply criticized the decision and what it portended. They argued that allowing for unlimited corporate and individual contributions to groups that were geared toward influencing elections was a cancer on the campaign system. The White House fully backed efforts to reverse the decision and at least bring more transparency into the process with the introduction of the Disclose Act. […]

Senior administration officials said Thursday that the president’s decision to actually appear at super PAC events is being driven by the same political calculus that persuaded him to fudge prior boundaries: Democrats can’t unilaterally disarm. The officials conceded that the president’s position on super PACs has evolved. But they also pointed to some remaining lines to portray this as a less-than-full embrace of the super PAC’s role in politics.

The first line was the president’s continued support for legislation that (while very much stalled) would bring more transparency to campaign finance. The second was the fact that while Obama would be appearing at super PAC events, he would not be doing so for the purposes of raising money for his own election. He’s not on the ballot now, the officials argued, which makes his appearance before House Majority PAC no different than an appearance before Planned Parenthood.

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