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Obama's moneymen work on Clinton's top donors in Chicago

June 19, 2008 |  9:12 pm

Already wallowing in money, and thus having decided he can afford to break his promise to take public funds for this fall's presidential campaign, Sen. Barack Obama's aides were huddled in Chicago today with some of the top fundraisers for what's-her-name, the New York senator who came oh-so-close to winning the Democratic nod herself.

Obama made the announcement this morning in a video sent to supporters. It makes him the first major party candidate in some 30 years to forgo public funds for the campaigBillionaire Haim Saban and his preferred Democratic candidate for president so he won't be going to Washington for the Obama fundraisern period between his convention (in late August) and the November election (Nov. 4).

A half-dozen of Hillary Clinton's major contributors, each of them a convert to Obama's cause at her urging, met in the Palmer House in Chicago's Loop today, carefully tracked by The Times' campaign finance guru, Dan Morain. As a bonus gift, the candidate himself showed up for some brief remarks.

Some of those in attendance were John B. Emerson of Capital Guardian Trust Company in Los Angeles, Thomas F. Steyer of Farallon Capital Management in San Francisco and Gary Gensler, who was Treasury undersecretary under President Clinton.

Also attendance were Maureen White, formerly the top fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee, and Michael Coles, who ran for the U.S. Senate from Georgia and is chief executive officer of Caribou Coffee.

Sen. Clinton, meanwhile, has called on 100 of her top bundlers of campaign contributions to meet with her and Obama on June 26 next week at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

It’s part of a precise political minuet, in which Clinton seeks to demonstrate to Obama and the party faithful that she is working on behalf of the Illinois senator's campaign to help Democrats, and Obama is simultaneously trying to woo Clinton’s core backers, some of whom still hold hard feelings about the loss by the first serious female candidate for the White House.

In fact, as Morain found out, not all of her supporters are going along with the Obama campaign.

"I have talked to Hillary three times since the Montana election," said Texas attorney Garry Mauro, a long-time friend of the Clintons, who will be attending the capital gathering. "She is totally upbeat. She says our No. 1 objective is to beat John McCain. There is no feeling sorry. There is no second-guessing."

But Morain has discovered not all Clinton donors have found it so easy to change political allegiances this quickly or easily. And they intend to skip the event, the first time the new Democratic champion and the woman he vanquished will appear together in public since Clinton surrendered in a speech to her supporters nearly two weeks ago.

In an e-mail exchange, Hollywood billionaire investor Haim Saban, who heads the Spanish language Univision network and has been a long-time, big-time supporter of Clinton's (see photo), was asked if he would be traveling to Washington for the event next week.

His terse reply: "No."

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo Credit: Newsday

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