White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will not accept public campaign financing for either the Democratic primaries or, if she wins the nomination, the general election campaign.
Clinton's decision had been widely expected given her and her husband's proven ability to raise vast sums of money quickly. Her advisers have not disputed estimates that she will raise $100 million or more before the year is out.
The New York senator already has more than $14 million in the bank, money left from her successful re-election campaign last year. The funds can be spent on her presidential bid.
While both President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry rejected public funding for their primary campaigns in 2004, they did accept $74.5 million each for the general election campaign. The funding for the general election was expected to reach $85 million for the major party candidates in 2008.
Analysts had been predicting that the major candidates for 2008 would reject the public financing option for both primaries and the general election because of the growing cost of competing. Not accepting public financing allows candidates to keep raising and spending as much as they want.
Clinton becomes the first of the top-tier candidates to announce the rejection of public financing.
"Both presidential nominees opted out of the public financing system in 2004 because the cost of running a modern campaign has gotten so expensive," said Phil Singer, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign. "These dramatic increases make it clear that the current public financing system is in need of an update and Senator Clinton would support modernizing it."
Strategists from both parties had estimated last year that the 2008 race could cost each nominee $500 million — far more than the Presidential Election Campaign Fund could afford. It is financed through the $3 check-off on federal income tax returns.
The fund, which is expected to have about $200 million by the end of 2007, still would help pay for party presidential nominating conventions and assist primary candidates who do not raise large amounts of money.