Some Clinton Donors Are Contributing to McCain

Dozens of prominent fundraisers have donated over $200,000 in last few months.


August 28, 2008 — -- Some of Hillary Clinton's most fervent supporters are taking their enthusiasm – and their campaign contributions – to John McCain.

More than 85 of Clinton's fundraisers, including Donald Trump, Univision chief executive Joseph Uva, cable mogul Charles Dolan, philanthropist Norma Hess and one of Florida's biggest lobbyists appear to be skipping Barack Obama when it comes to writing checks for the general election, according to an review of campaign finance records.

These Clinton donors have contributed at least $200,000 to McCain's campaign in the last few months, an amount which doesn't include larger contributions to the Republican joint fundraising committees.

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But the defecting donors, along with a significant segment (20 percent) of Clinton fans who have expressed support for McCain in recent polls, could present a problem for Obama in the general election.

In her convention speech on Tuesday night, Clinton passionately encouraged her supporters to back Obama, but some of her one-time backers weren't convinced.

"That speech was amazing, but it's not going to change my mind," one Texas donor, who gave $2,300 to Clinton earlier this year and contributed $2,300 to McCain last month, told "I talk to plenty of people like me who just won't accept an unqualified president."

At least one of Clinton's HillRaisers, elite fundraisers who contributed at least $100,000 to her failed campaign, recently donated to the Republican candidate.

Charles Dolan, head of the giant Cablevision, wrote a $2,300 check to McCain on June 30 after Clinton's initial plea to help Obama.

Ronald Book, one of the biggest lobbyists in Florida who represents clients as diverse as the University of Miami and Bell South, raised $700,000 for President Clinton in recent years and contributed the maximum to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign earlier this year.

Now, he's contributing to McCain and is leaning toward endorsing the Republican nominee. Book notes that he wouldn't give money to Obama even if the candidate took money from lobbyists.

"Obama has said a lot of stuff, but nothing with a concrete vision," says Book. "I have heard at least some sensible things from Senator McCain. He's a comeback kind of guy and I've heard from many other people who are clearly leaning in his direction."

Donald Trump Switches Sides

Trump, the New York realtor and reality show host, has long been a bipartisan campaign contributor and gave $2,000 to John Kerry's campaign in 2004.

This time around, he contributed $600 to Clinton. But when it was clear in May that her campaign was over, The Donald gave the legal maximum individual contribution of $2,300 to McCain's primary fund and another $2,300 to his general election fund. He even tried to give an extra $1,000, but the McCain campaign returned it because it was over the legal limit. Trump was traveling and unavailable for comment.

California researcher Danit Aharon was among those who changed her financial allegiance, gving $2,300 to McCain at the end of June. Aharon did not return an email for comment.

Several Democratic defectors contacted by were reluctant to go on the record with their reasons for defying the party and contributing to McCain.

Certainly many Clinton supporters are heeding her wishes and staying loyal to the Democratic Party's nominee when it comes to their fundraising.

Clinton donors have raised at least $3.4 million for the Obama campaign, according to a Clinton staffer, who added that Clinton encouraged 150 of her donors to donate to Obama at a hotel reception on Wednesday and telling them "that it's a mistake to donate to John McCain."

As for the number of her donors who have contributed to McCain, "That's a ratio we can live with," said a Clinton staffer, declining to be identified while discussing the subject.

Some of Clinton's HillRaisers, such as financier Ron Perelman and Hassan Nemazee, have opened up their checkbooks for Obama.

While the ratio may favor Obama, there are indications that while most of Clinton's financial backers aren't giving money to the enemy, they are sitting on their wallets. Obama has yet to receive contributions from some prominent HillRaisers, including Steve Bing and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. Only 70 of Clinton's more than 300 HillRaisers have contributed to Obama, according to a New York Times analysis.

Obama's Camp Pleased With Clinton Donors

In any bitterly-fought contest like this year's Democratic primary, there are bound to be disaffected voters on the losing side, says Costas Panagopoulos, professor of political science at Fordham University.

But he predicts that party defections will be much more common this year, especially to the detriment of Democrats and Obama due to McCain's moderate reputation.

"Had it been a different Republican, Democrats would not have been able to consider defecting so easily," Panagopoulos says, adding that he doesn't see much evidence of Republicans supporting Obama. "But given the perception that McCain is a moderate, there is a good chance that some Clinton supporters will defect to him."

A spokesman for the Obama campaign e-mailed a statement, emphasizing their gratitude to the many Clinton donors who are supporting and donating to Obama:

"Just the other night, Hillary Clinton made a strong, heartfelt case to her supporters and all Americans for why they should join her in supporting Barack Obama for president. Americans across the country understand how urgently we need change, not four more years of failed Bush policies – and we've been very pleased that so many who supported Senator Clinton in the primary have taken active roles in the Obama campaign, organizing, raising money, and most importantly, talking to their friends and neighbors about the clear choice in this election."

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