The short answer -- yes, but, at what cost?
Let's face it. The other night was not cute for the Hillary Clinton campaign. After Barack Obama's clean sweep of the Potomac Primary that capped a stunning eight-win streak, it was expected that even more of the Camp Clinton management would be sent virtual pink slips on their Blackberrys. While the campaign re-calibrates with populist new messaging in Ohio and Texas -- Jerome Armstrong at MyDD sparked some interesting discussion with his take of the "Why Won't Barack Debate Me?" spot in Wisconsin--word emerges that some of Hillary's top fundraisers want to take matters "out" of their checking accounts and "into" their own hands.
From this morning's Wall Street Journal, Page A10:
"At least two sets of Clinton fund-raisers are speaking with lawyers to figure out how to create independent entities to support Mrs. Clinton in Ohio, Texas and other primary contests." Reportedly, these are the top Hillraisers, such as Susie Tompkins Buell, the founder of the Esprit clothing company, Hollywood producer Steven Bing, and, "[a]nother Clinton fund-raiser, who didn't want to be named because he hasn't made a final decision, said he may pump as much as $500,000 into television, radio and newspaper ads for Mrs. Clinton."
The stakes are high, especially headed into Texas, where the Channel '08 blog on WaPo, which tracks campaign television advertising, unveils some of the new Obama and Clinton spots and explains "there are 19 media markets and being in all of those markets on English and Spanish-language media costs approximately $1.5 million a week."
Clinton's financial fortunes have ebbed and flowed since Super Tuesday -- the campaign reports "more than $12 million has been raised online since Super Tuesday," but that's still less than the Obama campaign -- so the thought of big donors coming to the rescue and willing to "pump as much as $500,000 into television, radio and newspaper ads" could be, well, an attractive solution. Or, maybe not., because there are soooo many problems with these independent expenditures subsidiaries (IEs), which The Huffington Post first reported after Clinton's Iowa loss: There cannot be any connection with the campaign. The messaging is beyond the campaign's control. The independent ads will be compared to the "Swift Boat" campaign against Sen. John Kerry in 2004, or, more recently, that ridiculously racist "blonde bimbo" campaign that helped seal Harold Ford's loss in Tennessee. McCain has hired the producer of that commercial, by the way, so maybe they're working on something new and exciting.
The biggest problem with Hillary's big donors coming to the rescue? Two words: "Special interests."
So far in the 2008 campaign, the Wall Street Journal reports outside groups have spent $5.2 million on behalf of Clinton and $1.5 million for Obama, mostly coming from labor and the 'netroots, and, in Clinton's case, EMILY's List. Those are mostly issue-oriented causes and organizational so, no one is complaining. That will change the minute a multimillionaire donor begins underwriting commercials and media campaigns for the Clinton campaign--well, that possible endorsement from John Edwards could evaporate faster than Hillary's lead with pledged delegates. It also will become the latest talking point for the Clinton-obsessed frat boys at MSNBC, especially the baby-faced and venom-tongued Tucker Carlson, whose entire show is virtual psychotherapy exercise around his sexual insecurities.
It also would create yet another narrative for the Obama campaign, who has been hitting hard against Washington insiders and special interests, and, an opportunity for the John McCain campaign to step in because their guy was the co-sponsor of the McCain-Feingold Act. Given the problems McCain is having with the far-right conservatives, that's probably not something he wants to boast about now.
So many options, and, none of them great. Camp Clinton is in trouble and needs all the help it can get, but, if Hillary Clinton is going to get the nomination--and that's a big question mark right now--she probably wants to think long term about the convention and the general election. If she can clinch the nomination, it's only going to be after wining Ohio (likely), Texas (possible), and Pennsylvania (likely). Then it comes it will come down to the superdelegates. The last conversation you want to have is on the super "fundraisers."