Nightly News   |  February 07, 2012

Obama’s campaign flip-flops on super PACs

President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign changed course Tuesday, and is now encouraging super PAC support in order to level the playing field. Super PAC spending in the Republican primaries has exceeded $40 million. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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>> now we turn to presidential politics and a major reversal from president obama who's now embracing those new super pacs made possible by a supreme court decision, the same super pacs that been spending a fortune jamming the airwaves with commercials during the gop primary season. our political director chief white house correspondent chuck todd is with us from our washington news room tonight with more on this. chuck, good evening.

>> good evening, brian . as you know, super pacs have now become short hand for big money in politics. the decision today by the president's campaign to essentially flip flop and go down the super pac road means more money will flow even faster.

>> how can we trust him? think you know mitt?

>> they've been seeing a lot of this in the republican primary and caucus states.

>> he raised our hopes. he seemed to understand.

>> reporter: nonstop negative tv ads from super pacs , big money groups, outside the campaigns, loosely affiliated with the candidates.

>> winning our future is responsible for the content of this ad.

>> super pac spending exploded in 2010 after the supreme court opened the door for unlimited contributions from corporations and individuals to political groups .

>> reporter: phony front group , you've seen them. they're called americans for prosperity. moms for mother hood. but today, the president's campaign changed course, it will encourage super pac support.

>> we're going to fight on the same playing field , we're going to level the playing field .

>> reporter: super pac spending has exceeded $40 million and prompted a change of heart in the obama campaign . on sunday, mr. obama telegraphed the change in an interview with matt hauer.

>> it is very hard to be able to get your message out without having some resources.

>> reporter: the decision will also impact the battle for drol of congress.

>> the problem for democratic super pacs affiliated with house and senate races is that the head of the democratic party , barack obama , made very clear in 2010 and all the way back to his 2008 race that he didn't approve of super pacs . now that he's giving the okay, that should turn on the spigot of outside money .

>> reporter: campaign finance reform advocates were filled with doom and gloom.

>> i'm telling you this, by the end of the 2012 election, we will have an historic national scandal in this country, and we will have new opportunities for major reforms.

>> reporter: and brian , consider this. during last month's south carolina primary , there was so much super pac money coming in that tv stations actually ran out of room to air the ads. that was one race and only some $10 million. imagine the saturation point come october in the orlandos and clevelands when it's hundreds of millions of dollars and multiple campaigns for office, brian .

>> as we said, chuck, sadly, we are just getting started down this road. chuck todd from our d.c. news room tonight. thanks.

>> reporter: