Rendell Explains Why Clinton Needs Obama to Help Her With Campaign Debt

By Natalie Gewargis

Jun 25, 2008 7:21pm

Why is it important for Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, to have Sen. Barack Obama’s help in retiring her sizable campaign debt?

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell explained it to me today.

Recalling two elections he lost in his career, Rendell recalls, "Gosh, when people saw me coming they crossed over to the other side of the street. It isn’t so easy to raise the money when you’ve lost."

But, Rendell said, "if you’re the winner, if you’re the nominee, people are very much inclined to help Hillary Clinton, or whoever your opponent was, because you’re asking, because the winner has a tremendous amount of leverage."

Late this afternoon Obama acknowledged what ABC News was first to report last night,  that yesterday on a conference call "what I said was to my large donors, who are in a position to write large checks, to help Senator Clinton retire her debt, or at least a portion of it. And I think there are going to be those who are willing to do so."

But the Clinton team is looking at more than $10 million in debt — not to mention her personal $11.5 million loan to her campaign. So the following remarks were assuredly irksome to many former Clinton officials.

"We don’t have some ten-point strategy to do this," Obama said. "Small donors who are writing $5 or $10 or $15, $25 checks – first of all, their budgets are tighter. And, they know that I am going to be working with Senator Clinton. If they want to make contributions than I think there’s nothing wrong with them doing so. And I want to encourage that. But …I’m not going to be individually contacting $15 donors, because frankly it probably wouldn’t be that effective in terms of making a big dent in Senator Clinton’s debt."

So he won’t send out an email to his grassroots network of 1.5 million supporters, who have so far enabled him to raise upwards of $260 million.

No doubt they ain’t happy about that in Hillaryland.

- jpt

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