WASHINGTON, June 19 (UPI) -- Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in a video message to his supporters, Thursday said he will opt out of accepting public campaign financing.
"It's not an easy decision" to forgo roughly $80 million in during the final months of the campaign season, Obama said. "I support a robust system of public financing of presidential elections."
But the public finance system "as it exists today is broken," he said.
Early on, Obama indicated he would accept public financing. His presumptive GOP presidential challenger, Arizona Sen. John McCain, indicated he would take advantage of the public money, which would bar him from accepting private donations and cap spending at the $84.1 million the U.S. Treasury would provide.
Obama has become a fundraising machine, taking in $272 million through April for the primaries.
"You've fueled this campaign," Obama told supporters in the video, by contributing small amounts of $5, $10 or $20.
He said he was relying on "ordinary people" to unite behind him.
"Let's build the first general election campaign that is truly funded by the American people," he said.
Steve Schmidt, a senior McCain adviser, told CNN Obama's decision to decline public financing was "a broken promise of staggering dimensions."