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Hillary Clinton's Pyrrhic Pennsylvania victory

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"Another such victory over the Romans and we are undone." – King Pyrrhus of Epirus, 279 BC

While most of Hillary’s campaign and its supporters are rejoicing tonight, and I congratulate them, one small but vital part of her campaign is crying, her accounting staff. Hillary Clinton's campaign began the month of April virtually broke, owing more money than it had in the bank, it emerged Sunday. [1]

Campaigns run on money. Staff has to be paid, venues rented, ads bought, transportation gassed and ticketed. Most candidates for their party’s nomination don’t drop out as a direct consequence of losing one too many contests, they drop out because after they start losing, their campaign contributions drop off and they run out of money. Financing issues have dogged the Clinton campaign for weeks. There have been reports that bills remain unpaid from appearances and contests early on in the race.

In contrast, campaign Obama is overflowing with cash. Barack Obama raised $41 million in March and had $42 million available to spend against Hillary Rodham Clinton in April, campaign finance reports filed Sunday show. Clinton reported raising $20 million in March and had $9 million for the primary available at the beginning of April. But she also reported debts of $10.3 million, putting her in the red. Overall, Obama had $51 million in the bank at the end of March, with nearly $9 million of that available only for the general election.[2]

After Clinton’s victory in Pennsylvania, her campaign is trying to make the argument that this win will cause a large inflow of campaign donations. They are hoping we don’t remember another crucial piece of information that has been around for a few months. As of February 6th, only 3 percent of Obama's hundreds of thousands of small donors have "maxed out," which means that the campaign can go back to them again and again for more. By contrast, roughly 70 percent of Hillary's donors have contributed the $2,300 maximum allowed by law.[3] It was at that point that her fundraising issues began and they have not found the additional donors necessary to solve that issue.

You cannot exploit any potential momentum from a victory if you don’t have any money. The super delegates who are elected officials or party bigwigs and know the importance of campaign financing, are not going to be impressed by one last victory that comes at the cost of going broke. Obama and those of us who support him would have definitely liked to do better in Pennsylvania, but the reality is that his efforts in that state and his spending that caused Hillary to try to spend money to keep up has won this nomination for him almost as surely as if he had won the state. A broke candidate is a candidate that is finished, and campaign Hillary Clinton is broke.

[1] Guardian Unlimited, Ewen MacAskill and Daniel Nasaw “New finance reports show Clinton campaign lacking funds” -

[2] USA Today, “Obama began April with $51M in the bank” -

[3] Newsweek, Jonathan Alter “The Democrats’ Color Scheme “ -

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A political blogger for the International Business Times, Steve Leser is a hot national political pundit. He has appeared on MSNBC's Coundown with Keith Olbermann, Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Russia Today's (RT) Crosstalk with (more...)
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