Campaign Notebook

Obama calls on supporters to help Clinton pay off her campaign debt

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June 26, 2008

Leading up to their big unity rally in New Hampshire tomorrow, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are both making moves on one of the last unresolved issues: Clinton's campaign debt.

At the end of May, she owed a little more than $10 million to outside vendors and also had more than $12 million in unpaid loans she gave her own campaign.

Obama asked his top fund-raisers Tuesday to help Clinton pay back at least $10 million. Donors who have not contributed to Clinton's campaign could give up to $2,300 each.

In a statement issued by her office yesterday, Clinton thanked Obama. They are scheduled to meet with her top fund-raisers today.

She also sent an e-mail to supporters yesterday, asking again for help repaying vendors and saying she wouldn't use their money to repay herself.


Tactics, stances repeated in daily clashes over energy
It may indeed be true, as John McCain said yesterday, that "political campaigns have a way of settling on a few great questions [and] in this election, the price and security of energy in America is one of those great questions."

But the daily attack and counterattack between McCain and Barack Obama on the issue is starting to have a "Groundhog Day" quality to it.

Both camps and their national parties hold conference calls and send out memos and e-mails to repeat the same accusations and make the same arguments - McCain that Obama is "Dr. No" with no solutions, Obama that McCain is pandering by offering unrealistic or ill-formed proposals.

Depending on where the other candidate is, there is a local element: Obama hit McCain on offshore oil drilling Tuesday while the Republican was in California, and bashed him yesterday for supporting the proposed nuclear waste repository in Nevada.

In his speech in Las Vegas, McCain called for weaning the United States from foreign oil by 2025 by expanding offshore oil drilling, nuclear power, and conservation. He described it as a declaration of energy independence and called it the "Lexington project," an allusion to the crucial Revolutionary War battle.

Obama, who held a news conference yesterday to reiterate his points, added one new wrinkle - a website that puts his spin on the differences with McCain.

"The American people aren't looking for more gimmicks or more of George Bush's failed policies; they're looking for a serious national commitment to solving the energy crisis," said Hari Sevugan, Obama spokesman.


Campaign manager details Obama's election strategy
WASHINGTON - "We ask you to reorient your thinking."

If you want to understand how Barack Obama is looking at the general election, that advice yesterday by campaign manager David Plouffe is a good place to start.

Obama's campaign says it will not be bound by the results of prior elections, the habits of past candidates, or conventional wisdom on how to win the White House.

Plouffe, briefing reporters on the status of the campaign, shed light on Obama's aggressive nationwide plan of attack into not just battlegrounds, but also reliably Republican states. The first strategic goal, he said, was to hold onto the states - and the 252 electoral votes - that Senator John F. Kerry won in 2004. But he also made clear that Obama will play to win in states deemed "tossups," including some that will surely raise eyebrows - Georgia, Alaska, Montana, Indiana, and North Dakota.

"Our strategic orientation here is to play offense," he said, citing plans for massive voter identification, registration, and turnout efforts.


Groups press for more data on 'bundle' fund-raisers
WASHINGTON - Eight political watchdog groups asked John McCain and Barack Obama yesterday to disclose more about the fund-raising for their presidential campaigns, including new details about those fund-raisers who "bundle" tens of thousands of dollars.

"For those to whom much private money has been contributed, much is required," the groups wrote, noting that spending on this year's election already has topped $1 billion - a record for this point in the campaign.

The groups asked that both candidates, beginning with their Federal Election Commission reports due July 20, disclose the exact dollar amount that each bundler has raised for the campaign so far, as well as for any other political committee that benefits the campaign - including their national political parties.

Individuals can contribute no more than $2,300 per election to a candidate for federal office, including the White House. But many lobbyists and other political activists court the gratitude of politicians by volunteering to collect "bundles" of individual contributions from their friends and business associates, and the campaigns encourage the practice.


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