The campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, held a high-level finance meeting in Chi-town yesterday with top fundraisers, and there was nary a mention in the big meeting of any effort to retire Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign debt, which exceeds $22 million, including more than $11 million in personal loans she made to her campaign.
Word of the radio silence on that subject quickly made its way back to Clinton’s erstwhile campaign, since a handful of attendees at the meeting were former Clinton fundraisers trying to get on board.
And while the public face of the Obama-Clinton rapprochement is all smiles — they will campaign together next week and Clinton will attend an Obama fundraiser at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC — behind the scenes there remains much tension, sources involved from both camps tell ABC News.
It didn’t go unnoticed in Hillaryland, for instance, that the first fundraising solicitation Obama sent out was not for Clinton but instead one to benefit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
To many Clinton supporters, Obama could easily send an email to his 1.4 million grassroots supporters asking them to help unify the part to retire Clinton’s debt. Obama fundraisers could bundle some cash together; former Clinton staffers could be brought on board. Some big Clinton fundraisers are waiting for Obama’s team to make a move to help Clinton retire her debt before they write a check for one cent to the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Asked about progress in retiring Clinton’s debt, Obama campaign communications director Robert Gibbs said, "it’s been a much talked about issue in the fact that nobody can just write a big check and hand it over."
To Obama supporters, reaching out to Obama’s email list would cheapen the brand of his grassroots appeal, and would likely offend some contributors who view Clinton — and the campaign she waged against Obama — rather unfavorably. And it’s not as if Obama’s fundraisers and bundlers necessarily feel any differently.
And while Obama supporters don’t think the Clinton team expects them to help her repay the $11.5 million in loans she took out from her personal funds, other issues remain.
For instance, of the approximately $10 million in debt Clinton owes to vendors, Obama supporters are not inclined to have former Clinton senior adviser Mark Penn repaid one dollar on the dollar for his well-compensated efforts.
Many hurt feelings remain on both sides. Clinton supporters feel she was the victim of a biased media and an unfair primary system, that their candidate would be a better president and remains more electable. Obama campaign supporters see Clintonistas as deluded, poor losers, and suffering from a narcissistic myopia that precludes them from seeing that Obama was offended by many of the Clintons’ tactics.
And, they ask, why hasn’t Clinton done what former Sen. John Edwards, D-NC, has done, and called her delegates and asked them to throw their support to Obama?
In short, though you will see smiles for the cameras next week, do not think smiles equal happiness.