Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Why Hillary won't go

Give Hillary Clinton credit.

She's not stupid.

In order to figure out what Hillary Clinton is doing right now, as supporters puzzle over what she is thinking, it's a good idea to assume that she is doing the smartest thing, and then work backwards to figure out the circumstances that would make her non-concession look like the wisest course of action.

Using this technique, America Wants to Know has deduced that Hillary Clinton raised over $22 million for the general election and spent it in secret on the primary, illegally.

This is the first year that candidates for president were permitted to raise primary funds and general election funds simultaneously, so this is the first year that an unsuccessful presidential candidate was faced with the prospect of refunding millions of dollars to donors at the conclusion of the contest.

Unsuccessful candidates typically wrap up their campaigns with a fair amount of debt.

Hillary Clinton's campaign debt has been reported to be as high as $40 million, including more than $11 million that she loaned to herself from her personal funds.

Under federal election law, she has until the conclusion of the Democratic national convention in August to pay herself back. Otherwise she has to write off all but $250,000 of the money she loaned her campaign.


Still, the Clintons have made a lot of money over the last eight years, more than $109 million according to the tax returns they released during the campaign.

Let's assume for the moment that the money she loaned her campaign is not the problem.

Last night, thirty minutes after Barack Obama locked up the Democratic nomination for president, Hillary Clinton stood at a lectern in a basement room and made the case that she is the strongest candidate in November. She pleaded with TV viewers to go to her web site and donate to her campaign.

This was just hours after she told New York's congressional delegation that she would accept the nomination for vice president on Barack Obama's ticket.

Today she told her supporters that she is not yet ready to concede defeat and release them to endorse Barack Obama.

"It makes no sense," Rep. Charlie Rangel told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell this morning.

Doesn't it?

If Hillary Clinton secretly spent the $22 million she raised for the general election, then filed false reports with the Federal Election Commission showing that the general election money was segregated and untouched in a separate account, she has committed a crime.

Let's assume for the moment that this is true.

On the day she gets out of the Democratic primary race, she owes that $22 million to the donors who gave it to her for the general election.

That means she has to come up with that money between now and then.

Let's assume she doesn't have $22 million lying around the house. It's not just what you earn, it's also what you spend that determines your financial health.

Now let's look again at Hillary Clinton's allegedly senseless arguments yesterday:

-- She went before the TV cameras, acted as if the primaries were just beginning, and asked TV viewers to donate money to her campaign.

-- She smiled as the crowd chanted "Denver! Denver!" around her, and she congratulated Barack Obama on "the race he has run," without admitting that he won the race and the primary campaign is now over.

-- She said she would accept the nod for vice president, which would mean she would be running in November, which would allow her lawyers to argue that she can legally spend the funds she raised for the general election.

It all makes sense now, doesn't it?

Surely you don't believe the first viable female presidential candidate is so emotional that she needs time to sort out her feelings because this has been such an overwhelming experience.

Give her a little credit.

Copyright 2008

Editor's note: You might be interested in the earlier post, "Hillary Clinton and the big refund."