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Clinton Backers Rebuke Pelosi

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THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW - March 31, 2008
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Clinton Backers Rebuke Pelosi for Stance on Super Delegates
By Dan Balz and Perry Bacon Jr.
The Washington Post

Top fundraisers for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign 
upbraided House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) yesterday 
for suggesting that Democratic superdelegates should back 
the candidate with the most pledged delegates and urged her 
to respect the right of those delegates to back whomever 
they choose at the end of the primary season. 

The criticism represented the latest effort by Clinton's 
campaign and its allies to beat back talk that Sen. Barack 
Obama (D-Ill.) has amassed enough of a lead in pledged 
delegates that she will not be able to overtake him, and 
arguments that a continuation of the conflict between the 
two candidates will hurt the party in November. 

"You suggested [in a recent television interview] super-
delegates have an obligation to support the candidate who 
leads in the pledged delegate count as of June 3rd, whether 
that lead be by 500 delegates or 2," the Clinton backers 
wrote. "This is an untenable position that runs counter 
to the party's intent in establishing super-delegates in 
1984." 

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Arguing that neither Obama nor Clinton (D-N.Y.) will have 
amassed the 2,024 delegates needed to win the nomination 
by time the primary season ends in June, the fundraisers 
urged Pelosi "to clarify your position on superdelegates 
and reflect in your comments a more open view to the 
optional independent actions of each of the delegates at 
the national convention in August." 

Clinton, in an interview with Time magazine published 
yesterday, accused the Obama campaign of trying "to shut 
this race down" and noted that even pledged delegates are 
not legally bound to support the candidate to whom they 
are pledged. "We talk a lot about so-called pledged 
delegates, but every delegate is expected to exercise 
independent judgment," she said. 

Pelosi has not endorsed either candidate. Brendan Daly, 
her spokesman, said that the speaker recognizes that super-
delegates will choose between the candidates but that she 
"believes it would do great harm to the Democratic Party 
if superdelegates are perceived to overturn the will of 
the voters. This has been her position throughout this 
primary season, regardless of who was ahead at any 
particular point in delegates or votes." 

Obama spokesman Bill Burton in an e-mail criticized what 
he saw as an implied threat by the group to withhold funds 
from Democratic Party campaign committees. 

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Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment 
Television and one of the organizers of the letter to 
Pelosi, said in an interview that there would be "no 
effect" on contributions to the party among the signers 
of the letter. "This is just fair play," he said. 

Johnson added that he and the others want to make certain 
the nomination battle is not declared over prematurely. 
"It's not the role of the leadership to say 'Vote only 
the way the pledged delegates go,'" he said. 

But the letter made it clear that the fundraisers believe 
their voice should carry real weight with the speaker. 
Noting their past financial support, they wrote, "We... 
hope you will be responsive to some of your major 
enthusiastic supporters." 

Clinton, accompanied by daughter Chelsea Clinton, was in 
Washington yesterday for a pair of fundraising events. 
Obama is holding four events in New York City. The first 
of those, at the Madison Avenue offices of Credit Suisse, 
a financial services giant, will include a "campaign 
briefing," according to the invitation. Guests will be 
charged a minimum of $1,000 to attend. 

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Clinton raised $35 million last month, all but $5 million 
online, but her campaign supporters concede that she still 
relies on a traditional model of fundraising. 

"The Obama campaign has found a model that works for them, 
that has enabled them to raise vast amounts of money 
online," said Steve Grossman, the former chairman of the 
Democratic National Committee and a member of Clinton's 
finance team. "The Clintons, both Hillary and the 
president, have a virtually inexhaustible treasure trove 
of relationships they have developed over the years, and 
they reached out time and time again to those people." 

Chelsea Clinton's appearance came a day after she rebuked 
a student at Butler University in Indianapolis on Tuesday 
who asked whether her mother's credibility had been hurt 
during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. 

"Wow, you're the first person actually that's ever asked 
me that question in the, I don't know, maybe 70 college 
campuses I've now been to, and I do not think that is any 
of your business," Clinton said, getting loud applause 
from the audience, according to the Associated Press. 

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