Hillary Clinton has been spending money hand over fist, with less than satisfying results — and some critics say her campaign has made basic mistakes in allocating funds.
Clinton entered January with about $19 million available for the primaries, while her Democratic rival Barack Obama had $13 million. But Obama raised $35 million in January, compared to Hillary’s $13 million, and by the end of the month Clinton was in the red and forced to lend her campaign $5 million. Obama still had $19 million on hand.
Following the release of Clinton’s latest campaign finance report on Wednesday, some supporters and donors, as well as political analysts, are expressing “concerns that Clinton’s spending priorities amounted to costly errors in judgment that have hamstrung her competitiveness against Senator Obama,” the New York Times reports.
Joe Trippi, who was a senior adviser to John Edwards’ presidential campaign, said the Clinton campaign has made two fundamental mistakes in spending.
For one, Clinton’s fundraising effort relied on a core group of donors who early on contributed the maximum of $4,600 for the primary and general election, which meant Clinton could not go back to them for additional donations when funds became tight, Trippi explained.
Obama, on the other hand, has relied on small donors who are not yet maxed out and can continue to give money to his campaign.
Secondly, the Clinton effort spent money lavishly up front, as if the race was going to be over after a handful of early states had voted, and was ill prepared for a battle stretching for months, Trippi told the Times.
Clinton’s outlays include $3.8 million for fees and expenses paid in January to the firm that includes Mark Penn, Clinton’s chief strategist. The firm has billed more than $10 million overall, an amount some strategists have called “stunning,” according to the Times.
Howard Wolfson, a senior member of Hillary’s advertising team, has received or is owed a total of more than $730,000, and the ad company owned by Mandy Grunwald, a Clinton media strategist, has collected $2.3 million in fees and expenses.
Clinton’s campaign paid $800,000 — including $11,000 for pizza — to a South Carolina company that was supposed to turn out black voters for Hillary. She lost the primary to Obama by a wide margin.
Also in January, the Clinton campaign paid out more than $25,000 for rooms at the posh Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, and another $5,000 at the Four Seasons.
“The problem is she ran a campaign like they were staying at the Ritz-Carlton,” said Trippi.
“Everything was the best. The most expensive draping at events. The biggest charter. It was like, ‘We’re going to show you how presidential we are by making our events look presidential.’”
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