POLITICS

Clinton Avoids VP Talk, Pushes Donors To Work For Obama During Afternoon Call

On a Thursday afternoon conference call with top donors to her campaign, Sen. Hillary Clinton pledged "total support for Barack Obama," according to one participant on the call who spoke to the Huffington Post. Alan Patricof, a key Clinton fundraiser--as well as an investor in the Huffington Post--also said there was "absolutely no mention" of a possible vice presidential slot during the conversation, which was moderated by campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe.

"She was terrific," Patricof said. "She told everyone she was 100 percent supportive of Barack Obama and the DNC. She said she wanted everyone on the phone to be supportive -- and said she herself intends to do events on behalf of the nominee and the party. ... She was real upbeat, there wasn't the slightest bit of remorse or recriminations. It was all totally positive, looking forward. I was very impressed, and admired her for that."

Patricof said that while there was no vice presidential speculation, the New York Democrat said she would make herself available for in-person events alongside Obama, and told her donors she hoped they would organize events on his behalf as well.

The potential wedding of Clinton's big donor fundraising operation to Obama's record breaking, grass-roots powered juggernaut has been the subject of much anticipation in Democratic circles, especially considering the Democratic National Committee's latest edict -- prompted by the Obama campaign -- that it will forswear all lobbyist and PAC donations from now through the election. With Sen. John McCain not having hamstrung his party's national committee in the same way, and given the large advantage the Republican National Committee already has in cash-on-hand, it's a testament to Democrats' fiduciary confidence that no one seems to be worried about missing the lobbyists' money.

Craig Holman from Public Citizen's Congress Watch project told the Huffington Post that Obama has little to lose by rejecting lobbyist and PAC direct contributions -- which thus far only accounted for $3.1 million of the DNC's total $77 million raised this year. But he said the impact of the new Obama-initiated DNC policy might have greater consequences down the road when lobbyists are also forbidden from organizing, bundling or otherwise steering donations toward the party. "The only real hard numbers we have right now are direct lobbyist contributions. [The new policy] will present a much greater challenge when lobbyists are not allowed to play an active role in hosting fundraisers, or bundling contributions," Holman said, noting that the new federal disclosure system -- required by ethics reform that Obama championed in the Senate -- has yet to go into effect because of a dormant FEC. That means hard data regarding the extent to which lobbyists are responsible for filling campaign coffers beyond direct contributions remains murky. "I don't think we'll have a good picture of that until later in the summer, when the FEC gets up and going," he said.

Beth Dozoretz, a longtime fixture as a high-dollar Democratic Party fundraiser and a Clinton backer during primary season, said no matter the lobbyists' total impact as fundraisers, "Obama has changed the game" to the extent that they won't be missed, at least for now. "I think while we will lose some amount of money [by banning lobbyist contributions], we will have participation on the Internet that is unparalleled and will more than make up for it. This is not a 'maybe' prediction. He [Obama] has demonstrated his ability like no one else. ... The major donor money proportionate to that of smaller donors is much smaller than it's ever been. I think now that we're all coalescing around our nominee, both candidates' constituents [will continue to donate] from 25 dollars to thousands of dollars. The potential is extraordinary. Having been a fundraiser for all these years, to see the Democrats have this broader reach, I just think it's great for the system and for the party."

Pressed on the question of whether any Clinton backers may wind up harboring residual bad feelings sufficient in scope to keep their pocketbooks closed, Dozoretz said she was certain that wouldn't happen. Dozoretz also brushed off McCain's Tuesday night speech, in which he referenced the pundits and party elders who "decided" Obama would be the nominee, in an apparent attempt to capitalize on sore feelings among Clintonites. "Three words. The. Supreme. Court. You can quote me on that," she said.

"As much as people may feel disheartened at the moment, I am absolutely certain that because of Senator Clinton's leadership, people will rally around Obama quickly and decisively -- with her at the helm of that effort."