POLITICS
04/04/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Clinton Campaign Stands By Harsh Letter To Pelosi

Aides to Sen. Hillary Clinton said on Thursday that they knew key fundraisers for her campaign were sending a letter to Nancy Pelosi, castigating the Speaker over her position on superdelegates and threatening, vaguely, to withhold campaign donations.

And while they did not go so far as to say they approved of the letter's content -- "we didn't know what was in it," said spokesman Phil Singer -- they did argue that the "letter speaks for itself."

"There is clearly a broad feeling among many Democrats and many people who are active in the party," said Singer, "that the role of superdelegates is to exercise independent judgment and make a decision that is best for the party and best for the country."

On Wednesday, Talking Points Memo posted a letter penned by some of the most influential fundraisers of the Clinton campaign, chastising Pelosi for suggesting that superdelegates "have an obligation to support the candidate who leads in the pledged delegate count as of June 3rd." Such a position, the authors wrote, "runs counter to the party's intent in establishing super-delegates in 1984."

To make sure their voices hit home, the Clinton backers reminded Pelosi, somewhat opaquely, that they had been the financial backbone of the very committee that helped elect her Democratic majority.

"We have been strong supporters of the DCCC," they wrote. "We therefore urge you to clarify your position on super-delegates and reflect in your comments a more open view to the optional independent actions of each of the delegates at the National Convention in August."

Early on Thursday, the Center for Responsive Politics calculated that the signatories of the letter had, over the span of more than a decade, put $24 million behind Democratic causes.

Asked whether the Clinton campaign thought it would be appropriate for party financiers to threaten to withhold funds should Pelosi not change her stance, aides to the New York Democrat restated their commitment to helping build a larger Democratic congressional majority.

"As someone who is a former executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who spent a lot of years working in the House, who has both friends and family working in the House, I feel, as do most of the people I know, absolutely committed to helping elect Democrats to the House in 2008," said Clinton's communications director, Howard Wolfson. "I believe strongly in Nancy Pelosi's leadership. Obviously, some of our donors had an issue that they wanted to put into writing... But Senator Clinton and Bill Clinton will not take a backseat to anyone when it comes to helping Democrats or helping to fund the party committees. And the people here at every level are absolutely committed to large democratic majorities in 2008 and doing everything we can to helping achieve those large majorities."

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Pelosi said that the Speaker was "confident" in her proclamation that superdelegates -- when deciding between Sen. Barack Obama and Clinton -- should take into primary consideration the tallies of both the popular vote and the pledged delegate count.

"The speaker believes it would do great harm to the Democratic Party if superdelegates are perceived to overturn the will of the voters," said Brendan Daly, a spokesman for Pelosi. "This has been her position throughout this primary season, regardless of who was ahead at any particular point in delegates or votes."