Some former top Hillary Clinton fundraisers have received attention in recent days for thus far declining to help bundle donations for Barack Obama. But none of those figures was actively working against Obama's candidacy. Ricki Lieberman is another matter.
Also a former Clinton "Hillraiser" (meaning she raised more than $100,000 for the campaign), Lieberman is keeping her own private hope alive with a daily email blast to supporters, entitled "Electability Watch," which features a cascade of negative articles and other items about Obama as a means to argue that superdelegates should change their minds in Denver and crown Clinton the nominee instead. A tipster who described them as "disgusting" sent a batch of recent "Electability Watch" emails to the Huffington Post. Their authenticity was confirmed in a phone conversation with Ms. Lieberman, who said her only desire is to "see a Democratic president in the White House" next year.
Any Democrat, perhaps, except Barack Obama -- or "BO aka Bush 3," as Lieberman repeatedly refers to him. The emails sometimes go out of their way to parrot some of the most hardcore attacks on Obama, including comments comparing Obama's planned nomination speech to Nazi-era rallies in Germany. In one email, she quotes messages from apparent Holocaust survivors:
I have heard from many Survivors and their children about the symbolism and implications of use of rules to undermine our core democratic values. Ellen Mendel wrote that "I was born under Hitler in Germany, and reading about the plans for the Obama throng in the stadium in Denver and the implications which have been spelled out, gives me the chills...the DNC will deliver the country to Obama on a platter. I wonder when it will hit them what pawns they have been in this Faustian tragedy.
Another, "As someone who escaped from France during WW ll, I hope that I'm not being over dramatic when I'm more than uneasy with stuff like Obama's possible Denver stadium theatrics and the calibrated negotiations going on about the convention."
Other emails from Lieberman cite Obama's "alliances with a cast of characters include Louis Farrahkan," and urge people to contact the German embassy to protest "Obama's grandiose, inappropriate hope" to speak at the Brandenburg Gate.
In an interview, Lieberman said it is incumbent upon the party's superdelegates to take another cold, hard look at which candidate will be more electable in the fall. Given that neither Obama nor Clinton managed to win enough pledged delegates to secure the nomination, a switch from Obama to Clinton is a technical possibility that nevertheless seems highly improbable.
A spokesperson for Sen. Clinton implicitly distanced the candidate from Lieberman's effort, telling the Huffington Post: "Senator Clinton fully supports Senator Obama. She continues to urge all of her supporters to get behind him. ... She continues to do everything she can to rally folks behind him. We don't support any effort that doesn't."
Still, Lieberman presses on each and every day with her emails, signing off each one with an exhortation for her audience to "GO GO GO!!!" in their efforts to contact and persuade superdelegates. While Lieberman would not reveal the number of people on her list, she bragged in one email that her organization is "beginning to reach SDs [superdelegates] thousands of times a week."
Lieberman's emails can also be unintentionally funny. In a recent edition, she advanced a theory that the reason Obama's fundraising operation has started to show some signs of wear is because all those small donors during the primary were, in truth, closet McCain supporters who, instead of donating to his foundering campaign, were trying to destroy the most formidable Democratic candidate (that being Clinton). "And now they do not have to contribute anymore," Lieberman wrote. "Some may have even gone back to funding McCain whose fundraising has gotten better and better. SIGH... Any takers for this theory???"
In her effort to be comprehensive, Lieberman once included two mutually exclusive views on one hot story, apparently because both positions reflected poorly on Obama. During the recent Jesse Jackson controversy -- in which the civil rights leader was caught expressing his desire to "cut [Obama's] nuts off" in a hot-mic moment before a television appearance -- Lieberman's email suggested in back to back items that the entire incident was engineered by Jackson and Obama as a cynical bit of propaganda and that the incident was a true reflection of a growing displeasure among key black leaders with his candidacy.
Asked whether her relentless tearing down of Obama could potentially damage her oft-stated goal of seeing a Democratic president, Lieberman refused to concede the point. Ultimately, she described Obama as "unfit to be president."
So which is it? Does Lieberman want to see a Democratic president no matter what, or does she think it's important to advance the idea of Obama as unfit to lead?
"Well, it's both," she said. "Basically, my focus is on having her become the nominee."
What does Lieberman make of Clinton's campaigning on behalf of Obama?
"Well, look. A lot of people can say a lot of things and they do."
Does she share with some other Hillraisers a desire to see Clinton become Obama's running mate?
"I don't even think about it," adding that it's unseemly to speculate on such things before a nominee is officially crowned. As for the former Clinton supporters who are now backing Obama, Lieberman said "people are making different decisions, and I honor all of them."
But she certainly doesn't seem to honor Obama in her emails. Asked how she can justify being so dismissive of a fellow Democrat, she explained that her rhetorical fire stems from her certainty that Clinton would be 20 points ahead of McCain right now if she were the presumptive nominee, saying: "He's just not sealing the deal with the voters."
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