CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent
Even Barack Obama's most ardent Senate supporters tell CNN, voting to give him 350-billion dollars more for a bailout their constituents despise, was wrenching. Says Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota, "It's easy to vote against this." She continues: "You know if you go home, to vote to help [Mister] Obama get this money, there is not going to be a parade waiting for you.
But vote for it she did. She's one of many senators the President-elect called to pitch personally. To pitch and to promise that thistime taxpayer money will be better spent.
"He's talking to a lot of us," Sen. Klobuchar says, "about how important it is to give him the tools he needs to tackle this financial crisis."
"He's also acknowledged the horrible mistakes made by the past administration," she adds.
In fact it went beyond phone-calls. Senators demanded written assurances Mister Obama would address those mistakes.. and got letters promising more transparency and accountability on how he will use bailout funds.
Democratic Senators say it was Team Obama's full-court press that scored a crucial victory on such a controversial issue.
Senator Debbie Stabnow (D-Mich.) opposed the original bailout, and told CNN earlier this week she was torn about spending billions more: "It's not enough to just have someone you trust," she said.
But she got an Obama call too..and changed her mind. "Now," she says, "people are willing to trust a new administration with a different set of priorities and values that are going to focus on getting people back to work and stay in their homes."
But the Obama power of persuasion did not work with all Democrats. "Nobody can tell us where the money is, where it's gone, what it's done," says Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. She says she was more influenced by the flood of calls from outraged constituents demanding she oppose using more taxpayer dollars to bail-out Wall Street.
Most Republicans Senators who voted for the bailout in the fall objected to releasing the rest of the money. Even John McCain, who campaigned on the need for a rescue.
They're still smarting from their election losses.
As for Democrats - they're hoping this tough vote will be a distant memory by the next elections, two years from now.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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