Clinton supporters turn to Obama

Big fundraisers are switching camps, setting up party feud

April 16, 2007|By New York Times News Service.

WASHINGTON -- As Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has ramped up her presidential campaign, a number of fundraisers long associated with her and her husband have shifted their loyalties to Sen. Barack Obama.

Among the biggest fundraisers for Obama's campaign are as many as a half-dozen former guests of the Clinton White House. At least two are close enough to the Clintons to have slept in the Lincoln bedroom.

At minimum, a dozen were major fundraisers for President Clinton. At least four worked in the administration and one, James Rubin, is the son of a former Clinton Treasury secretary. About two dozen of the top Obama fundraisers have contributed to Hillary Clinton's Senate campaigns or political action committee, some as recently as a few months ago.

A list of about 130 of Obama's top fundraisers, released by the campaign yesterday, showed the extent to which the Democratic Party establishment, once aligned with Hillary Clinton, has drifted into her rival's camp, lending the early stages of the Democratic primary campaign the feeling of a family feud.

Those donations helped propel Obama above Clinton in fundraising for the Democratic primary. Clinton, once the presumed heir to the party structure her husband built, trailed Obama by $5.7 million in primary fundraising, according to reports filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission. Still, her campaign relied on a narrow band of rich and devoted supporters to beat Obama in a wider measure of total fundraising: contributions for both the primary and the general election.

Phil Singer, a Clinton campaign spokesman, said the drift of some former supporters of Bill and Hillary Clinton to Obama was inevitable, considering the president's dominance of the party during the 1990s.

"Most Democrats who were politically active in the 1990s had ties to the Clinton administration, and we are pleased to have much of their support today," Singer said.

The campaign filings released yesterday reflect fundraising and spending for the first three months of this year, and are seen as a crucial indicator of the strength of the various candidates as they head into a brutally long combat that will culminate with the caucuses and primaries early next year.

Clinton's campaign filings also suggested that she was running a relatively frugal campaign, at least by the standards of some leading Republican primary contenders. A review of her filing indicates that about 5,100 of her supporters contributed three-quarters of her total $26 million take for the quarter.

Obama, whose campaign has focused attention on its small contributions, also depended heavily on a relatively small base of bigger contributors. About 4,800 supporters gave the maximum $2,300 to his primary campaign, accounting for a total of about $11 million - nearly half his total.

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