With the Democratic debate just hours away, donors and campaign runners are beginning to worry that all eyes will be on Bernie Sanders — not Hillary Clinton. They are suggesting that she show more “fire” in her ideas and passions to garner attention back on her campaign.
POLITICO interviewed 10 leading donors and fundraisers who work closely with the Clinton Campaign: “Clinton’s big-money backers contend she could tap into the small-donor fervor behind Sanders and fire up her own base if she displayed more emotion on the debate stage,” POLITICO reports. “They see her best approach as a tricky balance between reaching out to Sanders’ populist base, while still casting herself as the most electable Democrat — which means also aggressively rebutting Republican attacks over her private email use.”
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“There’s a deep hunger for more action and more fire in belly, and lots of worry all the energy is with Bernie,” said a major Clinton bundler in New York. “Everyone is talking about that.”
While it may be true that most major donors do not think Sanders is as likely to win the Democratic nomination as Clinton, the bundler added, “Donors are the base, and they like red meat the same way the activist wing of the party does. … Donors and bundlers are all momentum people like everyone else.”
Jay Jacobs, one of the Democratic donors that worked a fundraiser for Clinton back in June, says that tonight’s debate will be a great way for Clinton to show Sanders’ supporters that they do not differ drastically on domestic policy.
“Other than the deliveries being different, the deliverables are not that different between her and Sen. Sanders,” said Jacobs. “There are obviously some policy distinctions, but the thing that is not recognized enough is that Hillary Clinton for her whole career has been a progressive.”
Many of those seeking a progressive candidate are turning their attentions to Sanders and his campaign, enthralled by his passion and progressive ideas — something that has Clinton’s campaign runners and donors believing that tonight will be the defining night for both candidates.
“Just being who he is, [Sanders] is going to get … an audience that he hasn’t had, and a lot of the scary stories and ideas about him will be put to rest. He is not going to seem crazy to people,” said Deborah Sagner, a New Jersey real estate executive and philanthropist who is influential in liberal major donor circles. “I’m talking about some donors who still think only Hillary can beat a Republican.”
She said that she has been sending around polls and news articles about Sanders’ rise in popularity, and it’s changing major donors’ perspective on Sanders — making it easier for them to feel they could back him up. She also added that, because of this, Sanders is gaining more opportunities to snatch some of Clinton’s donors away, while Clinton doesn’t seem to have the same opportunity.
The stakes are high for Clinton tonight, and as much as her donors and campaign runners may want her to be the star of the night, many believe that Sanders will be the one to shine.