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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Party Fears Racial Divide


.....There are signs that the anger voiced by some African Americans is beginning to extend to the Democratic donor base. Campaign finance records released this week show that a growing number of Clinton's early supporters migrated to Obama in March, after he achieved 11 straight victories. Of those who had previously made maximum contributions to Clinton, 73 wrote their first checks to Obama in March. The reverse was not true: Of those who had made large contributions to Obama last year, none wrote checks to Clinton in March.

"I think she is destroying the Democratic Party," said New York lawyer Daniel Berger, who had backed Clinton with the maximum allowable donation of $2,300. "That there's no way for her to win this election except by destroying [Obama], I just don't like it. So in my own little way, I'm trying to send her a message."

The message came in the form of a $2,300 contribution to Obama.

Donors are not the only ones who have made the leap. Gabriel Guerra-Mondragón served as an ambassador to Chile during Bill Clinton's presidency, considered himself a close friend of Sen. Clinton, and became a "Hill-raiser" by bringing in about $500,000 for her presidential bid.

But he had a fitful few weeks as the battle between Clinton and Obama turned increasingly negative. Last week, he decided he had seen enough.

"We're just bleeding each other out," Guerra-Mondragón said when asked why he had decided to join Obama's finance committee. "Looking at it as coldly as I can, I just don't see how Senator Clinton can overcome Senator Obama with delegates and popular votes. I want this fight to be over -- the quicker, the better."

The Obama converts include William Louis-Dreyfus. The billionaire New York financier said he had been impressed by Clinton's performance in the Senate and distressed by eight years of the Bush administration when he donated the maximum to her campaign last August. Then, he said, he began watching more closely.

"However much one might have supported the Clintons, or one might support the usual suspects in the Democratic Party, I began to believe Obama represents a new approach. He gives off such a sense of relevance that he's sort of irresistible," Louis-Dreyfus said.

He also expressed, as did other big givers who crossed to Obama, exasperation about the tone of the Clinton campaign and frustration with the candidate herself.

"At the end of the day, all she had to do was open her mouth for me not to believe her," Louis-Dreyfus said.

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