Clinton Calls for Supporters to 'Max Out' Their Donations

N.Y. Senator beat Obama 55-45 percent in Pa primary. Now she needs cash.


April 23, 2008 — -- On the day after her 10-point victory in Pennsylvania, Sen. Hillary Clinton asked her biggest supporters to pony up and "max out" their donations if they had not already done so.

"We have to raise a lot of money," Clinton told the largest conference call of fundraisers ever organized by the campaign. Organizers on the call said that some 3,100 people were listening in.

Clinton praised the fundraisers for helping her beat Sen. Barack Obama even though he was able to outspend her in Pennsylvania by at least two to one.

"Thanks to you we've once again defied the odds. We defied those who said we couldn't do it, who said we should get out," Clinton told her supporters.

But she said the road ahead would be difficult.

"I can't do this without your help," Clinton said. "I know you understand this, but boy is it a tremendous hill to climb."

Prior to Tuesday's vote, the Clinton campaign had said it had $9 million on hand but $10 million in debts. Obama's rival campaign, meanwhile, has $41 million dollars ready to spend.

But Clinton, who won 55 percent of the vote in Pennsylvania to Obama's 45 percent, may have climbed out of the red with a surge of post-election donations. As of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Clinton campaign claimed it had raised nearly $2.5 million since the state was called for the New York senator. Eighty percent of that money came from new donors to the campaign, it said, calling it their "best night ever."

On ABC's "Good Morning America" today Clinton said that despite having less money than Obama, D-Ill., her win gave her a great "vote of confidence" moving forward.

"We were outspent and it was a tough campaign but people really came through and gave me a great vote of confidence, telling me I could keep going," Clinton told "GMA's" Diane Sawyer, adding that she'd had a "great time" celebrating with supporters and staff last night.

Clinton called Tuesday's win "very big and very sweet" and stressed that her win should send a message to unpledged superdelegates.

"The road to the White House does go through Pennsylvania," she said, adding that Tuesday's win proves that she can win the large and swing states, crucial to a November victory.

Clinton declined to endorse a call to let undecided superdelegates pledge to whoever wins the popular vote — where Obama still enjoys a half-million vote lead — saying that the popular vote is only "one of the most important factors" voters should consider.

"If you include Florida and Michigan, then the popular vote is very close," said Clinton, counting contests not sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee, where the candidates did not campaign and where (in Michigan) Obama's name did not even appear on the ballot. "In fact, I actually have more votes from people who actually voted for me."

Minus the two disputed states, Clinton is approximately 500,000 votes behind Obama in the popular vote.

When asked whether she was concerned about voters' disdain for the negative campaigning prevalent in the days leading up to yesterday's primary, Clinton seemed resilient.

"I'm going to keep running a positive campaign and I think the voters yesterday spoke loudly and clearly with their votes and my overwhelming victory," said Clinton, who added that she had "no doubt the next election will be hard-fought."

Sixty-eight percent of voters said they thought Clinton attacked Obama unfairly, according to ABC News' exit polls. Fifty percent thought the Illinois senator had been too harsh on Clinton, according to the same poll.

Already in Indiana in anticipation of the May 6 Democratic primary, Obama remained upbeat Tuesday night as he delivered a speech to supporters.

"You can decide whether we're going to travel the same worn path or whether we chart a new course that offers real hope for the future," said Obama, who had the company of singer John Mellencamp.

Indiana and North Carolina combined have more delegates than Pennsylvania. The senator is hoping that those next contests will help him close the deal and erode any gains made by Clinton this week.

And while Clinton's win in Pennsylvania may have momentarily slowed the Obama campaign, a senior staffer remained optimistic.

"If you don't think we've done well enough, ask the Clinton folks if they'd like to trade places with us," said Obama senior campaign strategist David Axelrod.

In exit polls, 55 percent said they still expected Obama, not Clinton, to be the Democratic party's eventual nominee.

"We will keep this country's promise alive," said Obama Tuesday night. "That's our path, that's our job.

"Let's get to work," he said.

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos noted this morning that with voters who made up their mind in the past three days, Clinton "trounced" Obama, 58 to 42 percent.

There is also some indication that race might be playing a factor in the campaign; one in six white voters said that race was a factor and only half of them said they would vote for Obama against Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

"Something is holding them back," said Stephanopoulos. "It could be race."

As the race for the Democratic nomination moves forward in the coming weeks, Stephanopoulos said it will take a surprising win to end the heated race.

"The only thing that changes this race right now is if one wins a state where the other is favored," he said. "That means if Obama wins in Indiana on May 6, this race is over."

"If Senator Clinton can somehow win not only in Indiana where she has a lead right now, but can get some sort of upset or come close in North Carolina, that may be the kind of win that can change the minds of these superdelegates," said Stephanopoulos.