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Friday, June 06, 2008

$30 million in the hole and Clinton expected to look to Obama for help on debt

By BETH FOUHY – AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — In politics, money talks. And money is likely to be an important factor in discussions between Barack Obama's advisers and the debt-saddled Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign.

Clinton will likely seek help from Obama in retiring her massive campaign debt, which has swollen to more than $30 million, including $11 million she lent the effort, advisers said Thursday.

The former first lady, who plans to bow out of the race and endorse Obama on Saturday, told donors she will raise money for Obama's campaign, both to help the Democratic Party's cash position and to expand the Illinois senator's prodigious fundraising base. Her advisers estimate the former first lady could bring in $50 million to $100 million for the general election campaign — and much more if she were named Obama's running mate.

The advisers spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Clinton hosted a conference call Thursday with her national finance committee, urging them to shift gears and begin raising money for Obama and for the Democratic National Committee, which will be coordinating fundraising efforts with the Obama campaign.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean has already reached out to some major Clinton fundraisers, urging them to put aside any lingering bitterness over the primary and come aboard to help Obama. Dean dined with several top donors in Boston on Wednesday night.

"He clearly made the case to this group of people that he needed them very badly and asked for our willingness to reach out and join up with the campaign as soon as possible," said Steve Grossman, a former DNC chairman and a Clinton supporter.

But in return, the group had asked Dean to relay to the Obama campaign "how very focused they are on Hillary being on the ticket," Grossman said.

Earlier this week, Clinton's national finance chairman, Hassan Nemazee, said he was also pushing an Obama-Clinton ticket, claiming that together they would be able to raise $200 million to $250 million for the general election.

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