Democracy Matters, a national student organization founded “to get big private money out of politics and people back in,” is attempting to get presidential candidates on the record about public funding of political campaigns.
Their latest video features Kyle Chapman, a 19-year-old student at Des Moines Area Community College, trying to get Donald Trump to answer his question at a June 16 event in Iowa.
“What do you think about the idea of publicly financed campaigns?” Chapman asked.
Trump shrugged and said “Enh.” Then he said “I think it’s fine,” before changing the subject.
After mysteriously asserting that a “bigger problem” is the “much bigger amounts of money that are being taken from us, like with babies by other countries,” Trump concluded by noting that “certainly we can think of different forms of campaign finance laws.”
Trump’s endorsement of public campaign financing seemed tepid, especially given that he did not refer to it as either “luxurious” or “classy.” But it did nevertheless contradict the general Republican attitude to public financing, which is strongly negative.
On other occasions Trump has made remarks about money in politics, such as “[Politicians] are controlled fully, they are controlled fully by the lobbyists, by the donors and by the special interests” and “Jeb Bush just announced he raised over $100M. Everyone of those people who contributed are getting something to the detriment of America!”
Another Iowa Democracy Matters member recently asked Hillary Clinton to “name two civic things that you’re going to do to combat money in politics.”
CHAPMAN: Pork-barreling is a term that I learned recently. And it just kind of refers to the idea of how big donors get rewarded with government projects and public contracts. What do you think about the idea of publicly financed campaigns in order to try to curtail that kind of activity?
TRUMP: Enh, I think it’s fine but you know, it’s the least of our problems. A big problem is that, our big problem is that you’re talking about the much bigger amounts of money that are being taken from us, like with babies by other countries. That’s why your Social Security’s in such trouble, that’s why Medicare and Medicaid are in such trouble. Not to mention the theft and abuse of all of that that goes on, which we all know we have to stop it. But the big money, the really big money, has to do with what’s happening to us on trade. We’re losing our jobs, we’re losing our base, we’re losing our manufacturing. And then they’re giving us their money to pay them interest. I mean the whole thing is insane! That’s the real problem. But certainly we can think about different forms of campaign finance laws.