Will Clinton pull the plug?

Speculation is mounting that Hillary Rodham Clinton may be ready to pull the plug on her faltering Presidential campaign.

Sources within the beleaguered campaign say fund raising has dried up and mounting debts may force a cutback in ads, direct mail and staff.

At Thursday night’s debate in Austin, Texas, Clinton appeared at times resigned to the fact that her campaign is coming to an end. Her closing sounded to some more like a valedictory address than the words of a candidate who fights to the end.

In the past she has always said she would stay in the race through the convention — no matter what.

On NBC’s Today Show, Meredith Vieira asked Clinton if she planned to stay in the campaign until the convention in Denver.

Clinton responded that she doesn’t “predict the future.”

But supporters and donors say the future doesn’t look that good. Even “never say die” Bill Clinton admits that if Hillary loses at least one of the big-state primaries in Texas or Ohio next week the race is over.

Others feel it is already over. Political insiders say Clinton’s only option at this point is to pull the plug and save face.

Reports The New York Times:

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s latest campaign finance report, published Wednesday night, appeared even to her most stalwart supporters and donors to be a road map of her political and management failings. Several of them, echoing political analysts, expressed concerns that Mrs. Clinton’s spending priorities amounted to costly errors in judgment that have hamstrung her competitiveness against Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.

“We didn’t raise all of this money to keep paying consultants who have pursued basically the wrong strategy for a year now,” said a prominent New York donor. “So much about her campaign needs to change — but it may be too late.”

The high-priced senior consultants to Mrs. Clinton, of New York, have emerged as particular targets of complaints, given that they conceived and executed a political strategy that has thus far proved unsuccessful.

The firm that includes Mark Penn, Mrs. Clinton’s chief strategist and pollster, and his team collected $3.8 million for fees and expenses in January; in total, including what the campaign still owes, the firm has billed more than $10 million for consulting, direct mail and other services, an amount other Democratic strategists who are not affiliated with either campaign called stunning.

Howard Wolfson, the communications director and a senior member of the advertising team, earned nearly $267,000 in January. His total, including the campaign’s debt to him, tops $730,000.

Where else does Clinton spend her money? According to Federal Election Commission reports and The Times:

Nearly $100,000 went for party platters and groceries before the Iowa caucuses, even though the partying mood evaporated quickly. Rooms at the Bellagio luxury hotel in Las Vegas consumed more than $25,000; the Four Seasons, another $5,000. And top consultants collected about $5 million in January, a month of crucial expenses and tough fund-raising.

Campaign sources say Clinton’s claims of raising $1 million a day on the Internet during the first 15 days of February were inflated and add that fund raising all but dried up after her big loss earlier this week in Wisconsin.

“We’re broke and in debt,” says one worried campaign staff member.

Supporters and staff also worry about her passive performance in Thursday’s debate.

Reports Forbes:

With Sen. Barack Obama rolling like a freight train to 10 straight primary wins, Sen. Hillary Clinton took the Illinois senator on in a keenly anticipated debate Thursday night at the University of Texas in Austin.

She may not have done enough to stop his momentum.

Clinton’s attempt to score points with a prepared line about claims of plagiarism fell flat. Reports The New York Daily News:

Hillary Clinton’s best shot at Barack Obama was a dud, so she switched gears and tried to win voters back by connecting on a warmer, personal level in Thursday night’s critical debate.

The New York senator came to Austin Thursday night trying to play Texas hold ’em, with Obama eating away at her lead in the Lone Star State and her other March 4 firewall, Ohio.

She looked to score with a canned putdown of Obama when a question arose over whether Obama had too liberally borrowed others’ words for his arena-packing speeches.

“Lifting whole passages from someone else’s speeches is not change you can believe in – it’s change you can Xerox,” zinged Clinton.

The crowd at the University of Texas booed.

The San Francisco Chronicle agreed:

After 11 straight victories by Obama, Clinton went into the debate needing a knock-down punch. When her attack lines failed, she pounded on policy. Obama more than held his own. If anything, the debate was a draw that probably did not shift votes.

Clinton waited to go on offense, even backing away from an engraved invitation by panelist John King, who asked her about her “all hat, no cattle” line that she has repeated in her stump speeches. Clinton responded that her comment was directed at President Bush. Clearly her campaign had decided that the attack strategy Clinton took to Wisconsin contributed to her defeat Tuesday.

It was Obama who leapt at a chance to blast her “Let’s get real” argument, saying it implies his supporters are delusional.

Clinton quickly struck back. When Obama called her accusation that he had committed plagiarism “silly,” she replied that if a campaign is about words, they should be one’s own.

Then she let loose her attack line: “That’s not change you can believe it. It’s change you can Xerox.”

It got boos. She must have had more such lines up her sleeve, but she didn’t use another after that.

Some see Clinton’s words and demeanor as those of a candidate who knows the race is over.

Reports Reuters:

Was it a pivotal moment that could change the campaign, or the swan song of a candidate who may be nearing the end of her U.S. presidential bid?

Hillary Clinton’s concluding statement in a televised debate on Thursday drew a standing ovation from the audience and plaudits from analysts.

But some said her words — which touched on her personal trials while complimenting her rival, Barack Obama — came too late in a contest that has largely turned in his direction.

Clinton’s advisers portrayed her closing comments as a turning point.

“It was the moment she retook the reins of this race and showed women and men why she is the best choice,” Howard Wolfson, her communications director, said in a statement.

But the timing was poor. After losing a string of contests to Obama over the last several weeks, she is running neck-and-neck with him in Texas, according to some polls, a state in which she previously had a commanding lead.

“It is a good moment for her that comes very late in the game — probably too late,” Zelizer said. “She doesn’t have momentum, she doesn’t have enough money, and most importantly she doesn’t have the numbers on her side.”

Clinton seemed to acknowledge her critical position.

“Whatever happens, we’re going to be fine. You know, we have strong support from our families and our friends,” she said, looking at Obama sitting next to her. “I just hope that we’ll be able to say the same thing about the American people, and that’s what this election should be about.”

For undecided voter Haley Pollock, 24, that was an admission that the former first lady could fail.

“I think that she’s starting to realize that it’s a lot more feasible that she’s going to lose than it was before,” Pollock told Reuters at a rally after the debate.


  1. staunchdem

    Just remember folks, all Barack needs to do is carry one more state than Kerry did.
    My guess is he flips more than one.
    As for Hillary, I think she’s accepted what seems inevitible and will be gracious and withdraw soon.
    She would be a terrific asset in Barack’s Cabinet or a Supreme Court Justice.
    We’ve not heard the last of her.

  2. JudyB

    Obama has been the media darling since he gave the keynote address at the 2004 nominating convention when he became a star.

    Even before the deafening applause had died down, the pundants were comparing him to JFK, saying they had not heard anyone since Kennedy inspire an audience with such hope and promise for the future as he had.

    At that time he was a member of the Illinois State Senate, a senior speaker for Harvard Law School and a candidate for a seat in the U S Senate. Three months later he was Elected to the US Senate winning the Illinois seat taking 70% of the votes, coming as a surprise to no one.

    There should be no doubt by now that he is considered a talented and gifted speaker. Never mind that a president has to do more than speak and inspire.

    Whether he is is the best, most experienced or even my choice (Edwards). IF, and its a BIG IF, he can keep from making a major screw-up, and withstand the barrage of the certain to come swiftboat like smears until Nov., he’ll go on to win.(ie: Rove is still alive & lurking)

    Two years ago at that Democratic convention, Obama set the Media and voting public on fire with his speech on hope and promise, its a fire that won’t easily be put out.

    Having had GWB and his crew in office for 8 years this nation is more desperate than I can remember for the change he promises that he will bring to the nation. The majority of people are reacting to those promises as if he’s their cool glass of water and they are in the parched Sahara.

  3. SEAL

    Bush doesn’t have ideas. He has behavior. Don’t give him credit for enough intelligence to have an idea.

  4. gene

    My God give me a break. Clinton, O-something and McCain. So where is the choice. This nation (people) is screwed no matter what button YOU push. Five (mabe more) hundred trillion dollars of derivates floating in outerspace and the world now facing financial armageddon…that is global armageddon by the way and people/individuals are having heart-burn over these worthless candidates. It want be long until politics will take a back seat to issues that have already destroyed this nation.

    Fools, idiots and morons refuse to look beyond this mess and will soon receive the sucker punch from hell.

  5. mary cali

    As Paul Begala says “the probelm is not that McCain is 71 with old ideas. The problem is he has Bush’s ideas.” Says it all.

  6. Broken

    McCain is going to get creamed, if anybody pays attention. He has so many flip flops he ought to be running a shoe stand at Long Beach.



    Iraq war, economy, Bush supporter, flip-flops like mad
    “experience” advantage Obama

    Debate skills: advantage Obama
    Money raising: advantage Obama
    Orator skills: huge advantage Obama
    Ground game: crushing advantage Obama

    Media backing: advantage McCain

    The media is the wildcard. If they all-out whore for McCain it could get close.

    All-in-all, bet strong on Obama.

  7. Janet

    Look for Hillary to emerge as Obama’s VP running mate. That’s why she was sucking up to him last night.

    Look for John Edwards and Joe Biden to be in the administration too.

  8. knockknock

    Can someone tell me how Senator Clinton can manage to improve the U.S. economy as she claims, when she cannot even manage her own campaign funds?

  9. Flapsaddle

    I haven’t a nickel in the Democrat dollar, so it is a matter of complete indifference to me whether Clinton stays or leaves, or whether Obama or Clinton is the nominee. What I am interested in is the rush to crown Obama when there is still plenty of contest left to go. Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania remain to be decided, as does the ultimate fate of the delegates stripped from Florida and Michigan. There are the small states, the so-called “superdelegates”, and the ultimate arbiter – the smoke-filled room

    Clinton has made some serious mistakes, the first of which was to assume that she was entitled to the nomination and that the primaries and the caucuses were simply pro forma beauty contests. She has also done poorly in the choice of campaign strategies and in the management of her war-chest, such as are outlined in the article above and that have appeared elsewhere.

    She is badly damaged, perhaps fatally, but she has not yet assumed room temperature. I’d be surprised if she quit the game now. Whatever one might think of her – either politically or personally – she has an established history of survival in tense situations.

    There is also the Teflon-coating on Mr. Obama, which cannot last forever. He will probably make some tactical mistakes, and she may well be able to capitalize on them.

    Truly, I do not give a big, hairy rat’s rump who wins the brass ring, but I just think it’s a bit premature to bury Clinton.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle