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Friday, February 08, 2008

For Clinton and Obama, less is more

by Glenn Thrush, The Swam

A year ago, when the Clinton campaign was still the Gold Standard of American politics, Joe Trippi, the architect of Howard Dean’s much-replicated 2004 online fundraising insurgency, sat down with the former first lady’s top advisers for a job interview.

Trippi, who would later go on to run John Edwards’ campaign, reportedly presented the brain trust, including communications chief Howard Wolfson, with two ideas:

1) Clinton should ban all donations from PACs and lobbyists.

2) She should create, as the centerpiece of her fundraising and public relations campaigns, a Web-based program to collect $100 each from one million women around the country.

Doing so, he argued, would cement her relationship with the two groups who would ultimately propel her into the White House, women and the working class.

The plan was bandied but never seriously considered, sources say. And why should it have been? At that point, Clinton had most of the top money in the party already locked up.

It’s now clear Trippi was on to something. All those big East and West Coast donors whom Clinton monopolized early in the campaign are now either tapped out or have long since defected to Barack Obama, who has cornered the market on rich, white, angry liberals.

Even though “Washington” money was always a relatively small proportion of her total take, Clinton defended the practice of accepting lobbyist donations on principle at the YearlyKos convention in Chicago last August, allowing Barack Obama and Edwards to inflict deep damage over the ensuing months by painting her, fairly or unfairly, as a bought-and-sold Beltway hack.

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