Political News

Obama asks supporters to help Clinton pay off debt

Posted June 25, 2008

— Democratic nominee-in-waiting Barack Obama is sharing one his most valuable assets – his top fundraisers – with former rival Hillary Rodham Clinton to help her pay off her debt, the latest effort to heal the wounds of a bruising primary campaign.

Obama on Tuesday asked his finance team to help Clinton pay back at least $10 million from her failed presidential campaign, setting the stage for joint appearances by the two former rivals later in the week.

In a teleconference with his top fundraisers, Obama asked them to do what they could to help Clinton, according to two Democrats familiar with the call. A campaign spokesman confirmed that Obama had asked them to help the former first lady.

"Some of our donors have asked and Barack said if they have the ability to raise or give money to help on debt, we encourage them to do so," spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Southern Exhibition Services claims Clinton still owes $75,000 for audio equipment the Durham company provided for about 30 campaign appearances across North Carolina. The company has received a few payments but is waiting on the bulk of the debt, officials said.

Obama's green light to his money bundlers came two days before he and Clinton were scheduled to meet in Washington with some of her top fundraisers in a show of unity after their bruising contest for the Democratic presidential nomination. On Friday, the two planned to campaign together in New Hampshire.

Obama clinched the nomination earlier this month; Clinton suspended her campaign and endorsed him.

The former first lady reported a $22.5 million debt at the end of May, more than half of which was a personal loan to her presidential campaign. Clinton, in a call to her top fundraisers last week, said she would concentrate on paying off money owed to vendors, not her personal loans.

Obama's finance team has expanded since he secured the nomination earlier this month, providing a broad base of potential assistance to Clinton. At least 200 fundraisers attended the campaign's national finance meeting in Chicago last week. Scores were unable to attend, one participant said.

In urging his top fundraisers to help Clinton, Obama was counting on them to seek out their pool of donors to raise the money in large increments. Donors who have not contributed to Clinton's campaign could give up to $2,300 to help her pay off her debts.

It remained to be seen whether Obama would make a similar appeal to his Internet donors, a vast network of small-dollar contributors who helped Obama shatter fundraising records during the primary contests. As of the end of May, Obama had raised more than $287 million.

Clinton donors had been making a clear case to Obama that he needed to use his fundraising resources to help her get out of the red. Her national finance co-chair, Hassan Nemazee, told The Associated Press last week that Clinton would be freer to campaign for Obama and raise money for him if she did not have to concentrate on retiring her debt.

Moreover, Nemazee said, it would be easier for Clinton fundraisers who wanted to help Obama to be able to tell former Clinton donors, "Look what Senator Obama has done for Senator Clinton."

At least one Obama supporter said that message was heard, prompting Obama's entreaty to his finance team on Tuesday.

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  • Paladin2 Jun 25, 2008

    wildervb - Actually the Democrats represent the Liberal Rich/Powerful and the Republicans represent the Conservative Rich/Powerful. Obama would simply usher in a change from more conservative to liberal. This would mean further restrictions and/or a ban on gun ownership, appointment of liberal federal judges/supreme court justices, emphasis on military withdrawal rather than victory over terrorism, redistribution of wealth from the more successful wage earners to the less successful through higher taxes, and the list goes on and on.

  • doodad Jun 25, 2008

    bullet, even if people who make over $100,000 per year don't donate to charities, they spend their money. They help boost the economy by buying manufactured items or paying for services that trickle down to lower wage earning jobs. I would rather see them help the working public than to see them taxed to death to keep up the lazy.

    Sad fact is, nobody gives a hoot about lazy people.

  • duster 340 Jun 25, 2008

    The $ 4.00 a gal. gas is hard on Hillary so please help !! HA, HA,

  • bullet656 Jun 25, 2008

    What you people are not even realizing is that a candidate helping to pay off the debt of the loser in their party is a tradition is politics. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last.

  • bullet656 Jun 25, 2008

    doodad-if that's why obama won't win, how come one of his "bases" that is constantly talked about it people that make over $100K a year? A lot of wealthy people aren't that stingy.

  • wildervb Jun 25, 2008

    "I am saying that the contributors would be better off spending there money on donations to the poor instead of donations to the party for the purpose of paying off Hillary's debt."

    I do agree with you there Goblue. If it was me in that position I'd much prefer to give the money to charity than to Hillary's campaign. Bill Clinton can make up that money by doing a year of speaking engagements.

    I figure that Obama has agreed to offer some help to Hillary to help re-unite the party and make sure he has the Clinton's full support.

  • doodad Jun 25, 2008

    "If the Democrats do win and Obama gets to enact the policies he's proposed. The rich donors will be paying more taxes and will be helping the poor through the government they helped elect."

    I think that is what most people are afraid of. Probably why Obama won't win.

  • GoBlue Jun 25, 2008

    wildervb, I think you misunderstood what I was saying. I fully understand the purpose of political parties. I am not saying that political parties should donate money to the poor. I am saying that the contributors would be better off spending there money on donations to the poor instead of donations to the party for the purpose of paying off Hillary's debt.

  • wballanceunc Jun 25, 2008

    How much of his personal money is he willing to give to Hillary? I don't understand this at all. Why in the world should other people be asked to help refund a candidate who lost? Don't do it if you can't afford it, don't spend it if you don't have. That is why so many people have credit problems. If Obama wins is he going to let Hillary be President for two years too? If I was a democrat and/or Obama supporter I would be outraged. Both he and Hillary are just silly.

  • wildervb Jun 25, 2008

    GoBlue, The purpose of a political party is to win elections, not donate money to the poor. That's what charities are for. Surprised you're not aware of this.

    If the Democrats do win and Obama gets to enact the policies he's proposed. The rich donors will be paying more taxes and will be helping the poor through the government they helped elect.

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