July 10th, 2008
12:09 PM ET

Strategy Session: Playing with matches

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/10/art.vert.nytobama.bordered2.jpg width=292 height=320]
“Unity.” Easier said than done. Barack Obama wants Hillary Clinton’s supporters to open up their wallets, but first he needs his donors to pay off Clinton’s debts. A New York Times article says some Obama supporters are refusing to pony up and say they won’t give a penny to help Clinton. AC360° talked with Democratic Strategist James Carville and National Talk Radio Host William Bennett in our Strategy Session:

James Carville
Clinton-Gore Pres. Campaign Manager
CNN Political Contributor

On how the New York Times got the story:

“First of all, two questions that people always ask is 'Who leaked the story and why?' We know who leaked the story. People from the Obama campaign leaked it. Why? I'm completely perplexed and vexed as to why they think this story would help them. My guess is that Senator Obama, David Axelrod, had nothing to do with this. These are some children that are playing with matches over there. I would warn people that sometimes you play with matches – you might ignite something. They're sticking bobby pins in electrical outlets here! And this story was not helpful. I have no idea why or how the Obama campaign thought that leaking this story would be helpful to them, because it's not. And I'm mystified right now."

On the reporter:

“The fact that they call Pat Healy-who’s a fine reporter, good guy- and went out of their way to leak the story and bundle the responses I think is amateurish. And I think that it's dangerous. And in addition to that, I think it's stupid. And like I say, I think senator Obama and Senator Clinton have been working hard on their relationship. I completely understand that there would be some friction after a campaign this long. That is to be expected. I'm still perplexed. I wish someone would ask the Obama campaign as to why did they think this story was smart? I certainly do not know.”

On coming together:

"I think that Senator Obama and Senator Clinton have done a very good job of coming together since. Clinton has campaigned harder for Obama than any second place finisher I’ve ever seen – maybe Edwards in 2004. Much harder than Reagan campaigned for Ford. Much harder than Senator Kennedy campaigned for Jimmy Carter or anyone else. “

William Bennett
Fmr. Reagan Education Secretary
AC360° Contributor

"There's a kind of pattern here, though, and I’d refer back to what James said. She's campaigning a lot. You know, Howard Dean campaigned for Kerry. You know, Kennedy Campaigned for Carter. Maybe not as hard – but did. I'm confident the Clintons will continue to. These rifts will heal. It's the middle of the summer. People are looking for stories. Flanry O’Connor said sometimes we... I strain the soup a little too thin here. There may not be much here. I expect them to be full-fledged behind him."

Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    I read the comments by Obama supporters on this blog and other blogs and they are a complete turn-off. I wonder how these people think they are helping Obama by continuing their rhetoric against Clinton and her supporters – where is the unity?

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 10, 2008 at 8:54 pm |
  2. Sam Martin

    addition to comment:

    BTW: This opinion is shared by many of my friends. About 15 contributed under the same criteria and all of us are waiting.

    We understand some love Clinton and Obama needs to heal his party. As independents, we support healing the party. But we do not support doing it with Clinton as VP or similar.

    July 10, 2008 at 6:07 pm |
  3. Sam Martin

    I am an Obama contrinutor. But I have stopped pending his future actions. Here is why:

    1. I did not want Clinton at all. I think I could vote McCain or Obama, but not Clinton. I wanted a choice and that meant Clinton needed to lose. I paid money to support my getting a choice.

    2. Being against Clinton, paying money to Obama if he will use it to support Clinton is not an option. I decided to wait on more contributions until I see that he will not:

    a. pay her debt. – She should have dropped out March 3rd or before. Any money spent past that point was debt and is not subject to support.
    b. have her join his ticket. – Her campaining for him is OK but if she is selected VP, I cannot support his campaign.
    c. be promissed something stupid like a seat on the Supreme Court. How would she be qualified for something like that. What court has she served on? Get real.

    Once I see he is not violating the above, I will contrinute again. If not, goodbye.

    July 10, 2008 at 6:00 pm |
  4. Jamie from San Francisco

    Barack should offer his marketing team to Hillary so she can raise funds as successfully as he did by going back to her supporters. If her 18 million supporters truly supported her, they can donate $1.28 and retire the debt. They just need to be given the easiest way to do so. As a Obama supporter, I don't understand why I should have to contribute to a lost cause unless it's for charity. I would prefer to invest in a cause with higher return probability, therefore, more Obama campaigning. We're being asked to pay so her supporters come over as she has already come over, or so she says. What kind of supporters does she have anyway? Cough up the $1.28!

    July 10, 2008 at 5:46 pm |
  5. JC- Los Angeles

    The Obama campaign is making a massive mistake for continuing down this "unity" path with their own party and the Clintons. It's the Independents and the middle who will decide the election. Michelle Obama controls her husband's every move and will never allow her husband to select Hillary as VP. Barack Obama is a born follower; he followed his wife at the law firm; then followed her to Rev. Wright; then folowed him for twenty years. It's plain to see that Barack Obama is struggling to be viewed as a leader. Any real leader would have already brought his own party together and set his sights on bringing the nation together. The sonner Obama removes his wife and Hillay from center stage, the sooner he can be viewed as a leader.

    July 10, 2008 at 4:31 pm |
  6. Carol

    I don't care how hard they try to push this unity baloney – Hillary is still out to ruin Obama. How can people not see this?

    It is so obvious that she wants him to lose. and she will do whatever it takes to cause him to lose. She wants the chance to say 'I told you so......... I told you I could win against McCain but you nominated him instead of me and the Dems lost'.

    What better way to piss people off than for a multi-millionaire to ask the public (who is struggling with this horrible economy) to pay off her debts? Pay off her debts???!!! She could write a check today to pay off her debts, then have Bill or her do a few speaking engagements and they'd have their money back by the end of the week.

    How did the Dems expect the public to react? "Gee sorry, Hill, I know it's tough for a family of two to get by on $110 million these days. You've probably had to order your servants to start shopping at Costco. Poor dear – maybe I could start walking to work so I could save gas money and give it to you to help you out."

    She is a cold, calculating politician and she knew exactly how this pitch would be received by the public.

    Hillary would prefer to have a third Bush term (McCain) than
    ever let anyone else have the spotlight. She has got to be the most evil, spiteful person on Earth.

    She is going to cause Obama to lose and she is going to love every minute of it. Honestly the more he kisses her butt, the more I lose interest in his candidacy, so I guess she will get her way after all.

    July 10, 2008 at 12:59 pm |
  7. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    I would like to know what exactly James Carville thinks is going to ignite.

    July 10, 2008 at 12:59 pm |

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