Barack Obama - The Caucus - Politics - New York Times BlogSenator Barack Obama, as he becomes his partys presumptive presidential nominee, is starting to exert his authority over the Democratic National Committee. A first step? New fund-raising guidelines.

Mr. Obama announced today that the D.N.C. will no longer accept contributions from federal lobbyists or political action committees, which follows the rules he established for his own campaign last year.

Ive sent a strong signal in this campaign by refusing the contributions of registered federal lobbyists and PACs and today, Mr. Obama told an audience in Bristol, Va. Im announcing that going forward, the Democratic National Committee will uphold the same standard and wont take another dime from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs. They do not fund my campaign. They will not fund our party.

He added: Were here today because we know that if were going to make real progress, this time must be different.

We want the Democratic Party to conform to his standards of openness to reduce the influence of special interests, Linda Douglass, a campaign spokeswoman, told reporters today before Mr. Obama flew from New York City for a campaign stop in Virginia.

The announcement comes the morning after Mr. Obama helped raise about $2.5 million for the D.N.C. at a Manhattan fund-raiser. Aides said the rules would take effect going forward, but would not be retroactive. (Translation: Last nights haul likely included money from federal lobbyists or PACs.)

The decision underscores what Mr. Obama intends to make a central theme of the general election campaign with Senator John McCain: reducing the influence of Washington lobbyists and special interest money.

But Mr. Obama has yet to answer another looming question governing money and politics: Will he be the first presidential candidate to decline public financing about $84 million this year and the accompanying spending limits?

For months, Mr. Obama has sidestepped that question, backing away from a pledge he made last year to accept public financing if the Republican nominee did the same. He said he would make a decision at the conclusion of the primary campaign, but argued that his record-setting fund-raising operation has created a parallel public financing system because of the large amount of small donors.

No major-party candidate has turned down public financing for the general election since the system took effect in 1976. And Senator John McCain has indicated that he intends to accept the infusion of public financing.

While $84.1 million for the two-month fall campaign is a sizable amount of money, Mr. Obamas fund-raising machine has shown an ability to eclipse the figure easily, raising half of that or more in several recent months. Advisers concede he could take a public relations hit if he decides to bypass the public financing, so they are working on a series of new proposals including todays announcement about the D.N.C. in an attempt to demonstrate their commitment to reducing the influence of money and special interests.

Aides have not said when Mr. Obama intends to make his decision.

The Obama campaign also announced that Howard Dean will remain chairman of the Democratic National Committee. M. Dean issued a statement on the new fund-raising guidelines:

The DNC and the Obama Campaign are unified and working together to elect Barack Obama as the next president of the United States. Our presumptive nominee has pledged not to take donations from Washington lobbyists and from today going forward the D.N.C. makes that pledge as well. Senator Obama has promised to change the way things are done in Washington and this step is a sure sign of his commitment. The American peoples priorities will set the agenda in an Obama Administration, not the special interests.

Last night, before he attended two Park Avenue fund-raising events, Mr. Obama spoke to Mr. McCain for the first time.

Senator McCain called Senator Obama last night at 7 p.m. to congratulate him, Ms. Douglass told reporters today. They had a short, cordial conversation and said they looked forward to having a civil discussion in the campaign going forward.

An early test of that cordiality could be over the role of money and special interests in the campaign.


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