Axelrod’s Targeted Push for Clinton Donors

The Obama campaign is in town to rally its fund-raisers and create new ones. Obama senior strategist David Axelrod is here for two meetings with the campaign’s fund-raisers, reported yesterday in the New York Post, at which the Obama finance people have been encouraged to show up with friends who are Clinton supporters.

But the push to recruit the opposition is a measured one. According to members of the Obama fund-raising team, Hillary Clinton’s elite bundlers are, for now, not targets.

According to one Obama bundler, “there is a great sense of delicacy and sensitivity” in how the campaign approaches Clinton finance chairs Hassan Nemazee and Alan Patricof and major Clinton fund-raisers Blair Effron, Steven Rattner and Maureen White.

The Obama campaign is taking a careful approach to those major fund-raisers, along with Clinton’s top policy advisers, said the Obama fund-raiser. Even as the party begins to coalesce around Obama, and the campaign encourages lower-tier Clinton donors to weigh defection, the Obama campaign has sought to avoid offending the big names by encouraging the Clinton money people to switch sides before they, and their candidate, are ready to shut down the operation on their terms.

It’s an approach that’s consistent with the care that the Obama campaign has generally taken since last week’s primaries in North Carolina and Indiana.

At one point, the Obama campaign distributed a memo scolding their supporters for gloating to the press.

This week, U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman, the Obama campaign’s Northeast regional co-chair, e-mailed out a memo to donors instructing them not to boast about their candidate’s apparent nomination or to urge Clinton to get out of the race. According to one prominent Obama supporter with knowledge of the e-mail, Rothman told supporters, to “think how you would feel it were us in that position,” and ordered supporters to refer to her as a great senator and formidable candidate.

The major Clinton fund-raisers have shown loyalty to their candidate, so far, but they have also made it clear that they would like to have a role in supporting Obama if and when he officially is announced as the nominee. There is a feeling in both camps that there will be enough time after Clinton ends her candidacy for the most established bundlers, capable of raising large sums from the country’s most extensive donor networks, to switch over to the Obama campaign. Fund-raisers to Obama say that they expect their big-money Clinton counterparts to play important roles in raising money during the general election.

For now, it’s the mid-level fund-raisers who may be getting an early start.

Another Obama donor, also speaking on background, said the campaign has actively encouraged its New York supporters to bring their Clinton-supporting counterparts to this evening’s event at the home of Obama supporter Eric Schwartz or to another meeting, earlier in the day, in which Axelrod will deliver a general update to members of the campaign’s National Finance Committee at the offices of Obama-donor Jeh Johnson.