Only a tiny fraction of the fundraisers who helped President Obama secure a second term have made significant contributions to the committee backing a potential run by Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, a USA TODAY analysis shows.
Of the 769 individuals and couples who raised money for Obama, just 54 people and firms have donated at least $5,000 to Ready for Hillary, the super PAC that has spent two years working to build grass-roots support for a Clinton campaign, according to the analysis.
South Carolina lawyer Richard Harpootlian collected more than $500,000 for Obama’s re-election, according to figures released by the president’s campaign. However, Harpootlian, a former two-time chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, is sitting on the sidelines in the early stages of the 2016 campaign. “I don’t know that she has generated any sort of enthusiasm or excitement,” he said of Clinton.
“In 2007, the Clinton campaign was more a corporate entity with layers and layers and layers of consultants — Clinton, Inc. — as opposed to a campaign,” Harpootlian said, referring to the early months of Clinton’s unsuccessful primary battle with Obama.
“I had hoped that this time around the Clinton campaign would be more agile. But there’s no real feeling that there’s a campaign. They are acting as if she’s the nominee, which is what happened in 2007 — and good golly — that went wrong.”
The reluctance of some of Obama’s biggest backers to make significant early contributions to the Ready for Hillary super PAC underscores Clinton’s slower-than-expected campaign start. The former secretary of State initially had signaled she might make a decision on the 2016 race as early as last month. More recently, the timetable for an announcement was adjusted to as late as July, Politico and other news media outlets report.
Ready for Hillary spokesman Seth Bringman said Obama’s supporters are playing “an essential and inspiring role” in the super PAC’s operations. Some of Obama’s fundraisers have not written big checks themselves but have joined the group’s “finance council” and are encouraging others to contribute, he said.
Ready for Hillary’s ranks also include people who donated to Obama’s campaign or the super PAC supporting him, but who did not have a formal fundraising role in his campaign.
David Garrison, a Nashville lawyer who raised money for both of Obama’s campaigns, has not donated to Ready for Hillary. He said some of Obama’s success relied on giving a broad group of party activists and fundraisers — many of whom were new to politics — meaningful roles early in his campaign. He hasn’t seen those opportunities emerge so far.
“While the Clintons have established ties with Democrats in Tennessee and all around the country, what we haven’t seen yet is a Clinton campaign that’s built an infrastructure at all various levels of donors and activists,” Garrison said.
“What she didn’t do in 2008 — and she has to do now — is build a new coalition beyond the Clintons’ storied history in the party,” he said.
In a statement, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said Clinton will “take nothing for granted” if she runs and will “fight for every vote.”
As Clinton devises her plans, a crowded field of Republican candidates is jockeying for an edge. Several prominent contenders, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, launched their own fundraising committees in recent weeks.
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SOURCE: USA Today – Fredreka Schouten and Christopher Schnaars