Clinton's Wealthy Die-Hards Are Contradicting Her Campaign's Message

09/27/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Back in primary season, Hillary Clinton said her campaign was dedicated to serving people "with needs" while her opponent's appeal was aesthetic in nature, and therefore best appreciated by well-heeled voters. The message: Hillary was fighting for you, while Obama was talking for them.

This line of attack was born in a 2007 Mark Penn memo, in which the strategist wrote: "We are the candidate of people with needs. We win women, lower classes, and Democrats (about 3 to 1 in our favor). Obama wins men, upper class, and independents ... "

But, in an interesting reversal, some of the most high-profile Hillary die-hards at this late date are pretty wealthy by any standard. And despite the tiny degree of actual policy dispute between Clinton and Obama during the primaries, some of these well-off dissidents are flirting with the idea of helping out John McCain in the general election.

In an article published the morning before Sen. Clinton's Tuesday address, multi-millionaire Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild spread some venom in the Washington Independent, indirectly referring to Obama a "loser" and someone "who's not qualified to be president." When asked if she would put her rolodex to work for Obama, soliciting the same kinds of donations that she has for so many Democratic candidates in the past, Rothschild said she has not decided, and added that she could work for the GOP this year, though "more in sadness than anger."

In a previous interview with the Huffington Post, Rothschild had said that the convention could be a time and place for intra-party healing. "There's a lot he can do at the convention to prove his respect for both Clintons. That would be very, very welcome," she said in July. "If that were done, it would be inevitable that millions of people would support Obama with time, money and votes."

Apparently, she doesn't think much of what's happened so far in Denver, where both Hillary and Bill have been given prime speaking slots. (Repeated requests for a follow-up interview with Rothschild were not granted.)

She is not the only such mega-donor to have resisted the purported unity project in Denver, either. As Joan Walsh has reported, Esprit founder Susie Thompkins Buell only decided to come to the convention at the last minute. While here, she has held a fundraiser, but only for her new political action committee -- not Obama or the DNC. Hollywood billionaire Haim Saban is also reportedly on the fence, and has yet to chip in any money to the Obama campaign.

Last night, when Hillary rhetorically asked her supporters whether they had only participated in the campaign "for her" -- and not for those in need of the help her campaign wanted to provide -- the assumed answer was, of course, "no." In light of Clinton's old charge that Obama's supporters were vanity-stricken elitists, the fact that some of her wealthiest fans still can't bring themselves to back her former opponent appears, well, rich.

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