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Breaking News: Some senior Clinton staff go unpaid

February 6, 2008 |  4:12 pm

Not a good sign.

According to a bulletin recently posted on Time magazine's blog, The Page, some senior staff for Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign have begun working without pay to save money for the New York senator's cash-crunched political effort. Those reportedly working without salary include campaign manager and longtime Clinton confidante Patti Solis Doyle.

At the same time today, according to The Times' Peter Nicholas, the Clinton campaign conceded that late last month the senator loaned her own campaign $5 million of personal money. At a news conference at her campaign's Virginia headquarters Clinton said:

"I loaned it because I believe very strongly in this campaign. We had a great month fundraising in January -- broke all records. But my opponent was able to raise more money. We intended....

to be competitive and we were and I think the results last night proved the wisdom of my investment."

In fact, the Clinton campaign raised less than $14 million last month compared to the $32 million reported by Sen. Barack Obama's campaign. Although Clinton is wealthy and her $5 million pales in comparison to the $35.5 million Republican Mitt Romney gave to his own campaign, this could be a sign of serious financial trouble coming out of the indecisive Super Tuesday voting.

Late this afternoon's Jeanne Cummings, quoting unnamed sources in the Obama campaign, reported his campaign was on a pace to raise $30 million more this month, including $2.2 million in new money in the past 24 hours.

Tuesday Clinton's campaign co-chairman Terry McAuliffe played down reports of financial difficulty. "We have done up to this point $130-something million dollars," he said. "Hillary Clinton has plenty of resources going forward. No one should ever worry about Hillary Clinton having the necessary resources -- ever. She's never worried about them before and she's not going to start worrying about them now."

But in recent weeks her campaign has clearly been economizing with the candidate herself, for instance, forgoing her usual chartered private jet to ride with her campaign press corps in a balky airliner.

Clinton is not the first candidate to experience financial challenges in this campaign season. Last summer, after severe staff cuts, Arizona Sen. John McCain began flying by himself in the economy section of commercial airliners. Now, he's the GOP frontrunner. Then, in early January in what would presage his campaign's ultimate collapse later that month, another one-time frontrunner, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani had his senior staff also take similar "voluntary" salary suspensions.

Clinton also said today she intended to resume intensive campaigning. But when a reporter sought to ask another question, she retorted, "The press conference is over."

(UPDATE: Tonight, the Obama campaign sought to take advantage of the surprising Clinton financial difficulties with an e-mail headlined "Startling news" to supporters seeking donations to match her $5 million, which campaign manager David Plouffe speculated might increase to $20 million. He said the Illinois senator has taken in $3 million since the polls closed on Feb. 5. And he praised the "more than 650,000 people like you (who've) taken ownership of this campaign" through donations.

(Additionally, Joe Trippi, former campaign manager for John Edwards, said Clinton's money troubles put the New York senator "at a tremendous disadvantage moving forward. The worst thing to be is an 800-pound gorilla who's out of money. The cultural shock for the campaign is incredible.")

--Andrew Malcolm