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Clinton donors offer to pay for new Michigan primary

Thu., March 20, 2008

Ten donors to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign offered Wednesday to give Michigan $12 million to hold a re-run of its Democratic primary as she and her rival Sen. Barack Obama traded sharp words over the proposed June 3 contest.

With state lawmakers facing a deadline today for approval of the plan, Clinton made a quick stop on Wednesday in Detroit, where she called on Obama to endorse the do-over election.

“Senator Obama speaks passionately on the campaign trail about empowering the American people,” she said. “Today I’m urging him to match those words with action.”

For his part, Obama called Clinton “completely disingenuous” in pushing for re-runs of Michigan and Florida primaries that occurred in January.

The Democratic National Committee stripped both states of their delegates to the party’s summer convention because they held their January primaries earlier than allowed by the DNC. Democrats have scrapped plans for a new primary in Florida, but Clinton hopes that a new Michigan contest would enable her to overcome Obama’s lead in delegates. Clinton was the only major Democrat who put her name on Michigan’s January ballot.

In an interview with CNN, Obama recalled Clinton’s statement last fall that Michigan’s primary was “not going to count for anything.”

“Then, as soon as she got into trouble politically, and it looked like she would have no prospects of winning the nomination without having (Michigan and Florida) count, suddenly she’s extraordinarily concerned with the voters there,” Obama told CNN. “I understand the politics of it, but let’s be clear that it’s politics.”

Clinton supporters in Michigan concede that state lawmakers are unlikely to authorize the proposed June 3 primary by today’s deadline.

Nonetheless, Govs. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania and Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey gave Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm of Michigan a list on Wednesday of 10 people who would guarantee the state up to $12 million in donations to hold the election. All three governors support Clinton, and the 10 people offering to pay for the election are all donors to the New York senator’s campaign.

“I’m just doing my small part to help make every vote count,” Los Angeles investor Haim Saban, one of those on the list, said in an e-mail. “It’s as simple as that.”

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said the group’s offer showed that Clinton was “willing to do absolutely anything to get elected.”


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