Hillary Cuts Off Nose -- Spites Face

Monday, April 09, 2007

There have been rumors circulating for months that Hillary has been trying to win the money primary by means of extortion. We've all heard the tales of her threats to big money donors that she wants them to lard up her campaign and only her campaign. Now comes news that her strong arm tactics have backfired.

Under intense pressure from the Clinton team to pick sides, [Leonore] Blitz—who bundled more than $1 million for John Kerry in 2004—felt deeply conflicted. Clinton operatives have warned donors not to contribute to other campaigns, and put a price on disloyalty: early supporters will be valued and latecomers scorned. But now Blitz is coming out of the shadows, ready to test the rules. "I have been a lifelong advocate of women and minorities' participating and running for political office," she told NEWSWEEK last week. "Therefore, I'm supporting both Clinton and Obama."

Well I'm sure that'll be fine with Hillary, because when she told people it was her way or the highway, she didn't really mean it.

The Clinton campaign denies that it has strong-armed anyone, saying the warnings were made in jest.

Oh that Hil. Such a cut-up. Always with the teasing and the joking. I'm sure she had them in stitches over at the Jon Tasini campaign, when they found they were shut out of the primary debate by Clinton donor TimeWarner.

But seriously folks, Hillary understands what campaigns are about. Money. Who's got it and who wants to use it to gain access to the halls of power. She just didn't expect that some high rollers would consider Obama the better bet.

What happened to the Clinton juggernaut? The answer lies partly in her go-for-broke strategy. There's a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and for some fund-raisers the Clinton team crossed it. "They clearly communicated a message that this candidacy is inevitable because we'll have more experienced consultants, more political insiders, more money and more of every resource that is vital to being nominated," says a prominent New York donor who joined the Obama camp but declined to be named to protect friendships with Clinton supporters. "Therefore, you are politically stupid if you don't get it, if you can't add."

Big donors to any campaign are keenly interested in what their money gets them. [Emphasis Added] Newcomers to Clinton's orbit don't expect to have much influence or access. So they have fewer reasons to call on wealthy friends for more cash. "That tent seemed pretty much full," says Howard Gutman, a D.C. lawyer who was part of the small team that raised $10 million for Mark Warner's aborted presidential effort. Several campaigns courted Gutman, but he chose Obama over Clinton. "I could raise money from now to eternity and not really be on the radar screen. And the Obama camp seemed to offer more upside in terms of personal fun for the next year and change for the country for the future."