Major donors to Barack Obama's campaign were told Wednesday evening that fundraising efforts were "a little slow" and that they should help retire Hillary Clinton's campaign debt so that the New York Democrat's supporters would, in turn, give to Obama.
"There was no negativity about Hillary," said one Democrat. "In fact the opposite. Fundraising is a little slow and it is very important to ramp it up. Hillary donors are a major source of donor dollars. The message to the troops was 'Get your five checks for Hillary in so that you can ask her donors to give to Barack.'"
The campaign finance team call was made as Clinton and Obama appeared together in New York for a joint fundraiser.
It also came on the heels of a New York Times report that top Obama donors have resisted helping retire the Clinton campaign's debt. The story was downplayed by Clinton confidante Terry McAuliffe, who said on MSNBC that hard feelings between the camps amounted to just a "couple people."
"The idea that the New York Times is going to do another story whacking Hillary Clinton, this is news?" he asked. "Of course not."
But tensions were apparently high enough that the Obama campaign felt the need to address them. In a separate interview, a major Clinton fundraiser said a small number of her compatriots continue to feel upset about their diminished status.
"For better or worse, the Clinton people are used to being courted, and the Obama folks have just a different philosophy," said the donor. "Some of the Clinton people have gotten demanding. Some of them wanted titles, and I think that is totally inappropriate. Why should any Clinton person get to jump ahead of any Obama folks? They want jobs, they want recognition, they want to be in the paper. They want to be considered for an ambassadorship. It is all about ego."
The one-time Clinton backer added: "I happen to think the Obama folks are right. Politicians should not have to spend so much time pandering to the bundlers or donors. But if you are used to that kind of treatment, one might misinterpret that as not caring about their needs."
The remarks echo many of the sentiments expressed by Clinton donors in the Times story, which reported that Obama supporters have forked over a paltry $100,000 (with more in pledges) so far to Clinton's debt.
But not everyone is so concerned about relations between the two groups. One fundraiser for Obama told the Huffington Post that "the integration of national fundraising teams" always has some turbulence, but that, contrary to press reports, the current friction was "a tempest in a thimble."
"When you move to a new town you learn the culture and the cadence," he said. "There are meetings happening all the time. I have a meeting tonight in my region. We are working to get all the Hillstars involved."
Another donor said she fully expects the issue to be resolved in time with the majority Clinton backers falling in line.
And yet, in interviews with four separate fundraisers (for both Obama and Clinton) there was no shortage of explanations provided for why animosity between the two camps still exists. One individual claimed that the Obama campaign was simply not putting pressure on his donors to help Clinton with her debt.
"They don't feel any penalty for not doing it," she said. "And they won't donate to her if there isn't an incentive to do so."
Another individual stressed that the fact that much of the money would be going to the pockets of Mark Penn -- and that Penn had recently teamed up with former Bush adviser Karen Hughes -- was stymieing donations.