More on the Philly Dinner: Rendell None Too Pleased

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rendell clinton obama twn.jpg
I’ve had a number of emails from folks suggesting I am disrespecting the hardworking campaign canvassers and volunteers working hard on the Obama campaign for having reported that at least two paying guests at the Obama fundraiser last night in Philadelphia thought that there was a bit of “inevitability” woven into the evening.
First, I mean no disrespect to any campaign workers. My comments are not about you and what you are trying to do. My comments were about a dinner and the atmosphere there.
Second, my job is not to get Barack Obama elected. I respect those trying to get him into the White House and generally think on most days that that is what I want to — but don’t confuse this blog as an advocacy shop for Barack Obama or for John McCain.
Most importantly though, if the Obama team is going to succeed, it needs to feel and hear feedback — just like I do on this blog and elsewhere. I stand by the report I offered.
Hillary Clinton ran on “inevitability” at one point during her primary challenge, and this, I think, contributed to her losing. I believe it would be a mistake for Obama to tilt in that direction — and while some say that that observation is not what they are seeing, I am hearing that kind of trend from multiple sources.
So, best thing to do is for the campaign to hear the comments whispered by some of their paying supporters, adjust, and move on. Obama is probably going to win this race — but there are hiccups that can occur and too much confidence about the end game can be harmful. . .from my point of view. And given that this is my blog, my point of view is what matters here.
But I do wish all canvass workers and those in the field for either campaign, but particularly Obama’s in this case, all the best. The more I get to know Obama, the more I tend to like him and what he stands for — but I will not acquiesce to what I consider to be sloppy or misguided politics or policy. Those that want a blog just to be part of the sound machine in favor of Obama with no questions or feedback really need to read other stuff.
One more interesting thing on the dinner though is that it was the biggest fundraiser — as measure by funds raised — in the history of Pennsylvania, estimated at $5 million.
One of the funnier things I have heard out of the evening was that the hosts didn’t seat Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell at Obama’s table — and Rendell spent much of the evening letting just about everyone in earshot know he was none too pleased. . .
More later.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

24 comments on “More on the Philly Dinner: Rendell None Too Pleased

  1. DavidT says:

    Kathleen,
    Thanks for your reply in the other Clemons thread. Hope you don’t mind me following you over here.
    In terms of 18 million people voting for Hillary I feel that while that should be an important consideration in qualifying her as the vice presidential candidate, there are other variables. You are quite right that the teaming of Johnson and Kennedy was a marriage of convenience (as well as the last time a vice presidential candidate made a significant difference in the election). But I honestly don’t think putting Hillary on the ticket would have united the party more than putting Biden on the ticket. One of the problems, in my view, with this argument is that when you try to “unite” the party its usually for ideological reasons. That is, you have two candidates from different ideological wings of the party who “unite” the party by running together. However Obama and Clinton are from the same ideological wing of the party. Their differences were more ones of personality than of policy.
    For this reason, in spite of some of the reports, I think most of Hillary’s supporters went to Obama once they saw him nominated and reconciled themselves to her having lost. There are still some people unhappy and there may be quite a few of them. But in terms of the overall Democratic electorate I think that that just wasn’t the case (it was more that there were a number of people who felt so strongly about Hillary who got disproportionate attention in the same way that those who opposed the $700 bailout got much more attention than their numbers merited).
    The downside of having Hillary on the ticket was not so much whether or not Obama liked her but a balancing of what she added versus what she subtracted. I don’t think LBJ subtracted much from the Kennedy nomination. Hillary on the other hand is still one of the most divisive figures in American politics. In fact I suspect McCain would not have selected Palin if Obama had chosen Hillary which I think has ended up hurting McCain quite a bit (yeah the base likes her but she hurts more than helps with independents).
    In addition, one of the key strengths of the Obama campaign is that its free of drama. This is the antithesis of Clinton (Bill or Hillary) operations. If Hillary had a hard time controlling her husband, what would Obama have done if he did things that Obama disagreed with.
    Finally, on this front, part of what so bothered Bill Clinton about Obama is that Obama has explicitly decried the politics of division in this country and suggested that the Clinton Administration was far from free of this (even if they are not entirely to blame). I think this was a fair criticism. Obama is not comfortable demonizing others the way the Clintons are. His negative commercials have been unfortunate but still don’t involve demonization which is a specialty of the Clintons and Bush.
    On the fundraiser, I try to have a little perspective that I found missing in Steve’s post. There’s lots of things to criticize the Obama campaign for — not talking much about the federal debt or indicating what programs will need to be cut to reduce the deficit. As much as I like the idea of a tax cut for 95% of Americans how can we afford it when our debt is $9.5 Trillion and heading past $10 trillion very soon. I would be happier if he had more experience on the national stage. Though Steve’s a big fan, Joe Biden makes me nervous as vice president. Its too bad that the campaign opted out of the public campaign financing system in the general election.
    However to criticize it for doing victor laps before November 4th based on a couple of comments from fundraiser goers without any other evidence (there’s lots of evidence that the campaign is taking the McCain challenge very seriously) isn’t serious. In fact, how the Obama campaign has been run operationally is remarkable. And honesty, I don’t think that’s an “opinion” of mine, I think it’s a fact. It will be studied by future Presidential, Senate, House, state legislature, and even high school (:)) campaigns for years to come. I didn’t think the Democrats could ever run a campaign operationally as smooth as the 2004 Republican campaign. Obama proved me wrong. So again, criticizing how Obama is running his campaign to me is the height of silliness. It would be like criticizing McCain for not being bold enough in the selection of his vice presidential nominee.
    Finally on the Rendell brouhaha, if true, its a pity. Don’t wish to defend it. However I’m not sure it merits a federal case.
    Thanks to you as well for doing your best to keep this dialogue civil and respectful. I too don’t much like the caustic comments so common in forums such as this one.

    Reply

  2. Kathleen says:

    I agree again, Steve, as my comments on the other thread discussing overconfidence indicate. Not seating the Governor of a State at the head table at a fundraiser in that Governor’s state is an incredibly stupid gaffe, especially since Rendell is so well liked. and Pennsylvania is a swing state…duuuuh… this was a public slap in his face. and unecessarily humiliating…just as the 3 a.m. text head fuck was…all of which adds up to “We don’t need you, Hillary supporters”.
    It’s not about Rendell’s feelings…it’s about having some smarts and being a good winner, which doesn’t include rubbing anyone’s face in it while asking for their help. I don’t think it’s funny, I think it’s endemic of being a bad winner…does he have any idea how important the Governor of a State is to the machine doing its thing for you? It’s so petty and immature to not invite the Governor to sit at the head table because he formerly supported an opponent. highest office holder in the State ferchissakes…and what happended to magnanimity?
    The snark is overwhleming…shades of Ned Lamont’s campaign… I never saw such an inexperienced bunch of know-it-alls in my life as the Lamont campaign…they thought the primary results were an indication of them knowing what they were doing…it was not…it was a measure of how angry CT. voters were…what did they do with their win? When Democrats from around the nation called to offer their help, Tom Swan, Lamont’s campaign manager told the Hartford Courant that they were going to be reeeeelhy chooosey about who they would “let” come and campaign with Lamont…then they whined about the party not helping them enough…I better not hear any whining from Obamabots blaming Hillary supporters if this goes south.
    And Team Obama’s childish reactions rather than having an open ear to voters’ concerns and feelings…stop looking down on people who disagree with you and think you have room for improvement….it’s helpful to know where your obstacles lie. and how you can remove them… don’t expect well informed, thinking voters to just get with the progam and tow some line because you want it that way. What is that, The Shut Up and Vote, policy? McPain was in the lead until the meltdown and the tighter the race gets, the easier it is to steal. Don’t quit your day job…. or maybe Joe the Plumber can now take on an apprentice…
    Good luck scolding people… if Steve commenting on feelings at this fundraiser is disrespecting Obama canvassers, dissing Governor Rendell was disrespectful to all the people who voted him into office and also those who voted for Hillary, if your reason for not seating the Governor at the head table was his support for Hillary…
    POA where would we be without your sharp incisive insights??? But don’t throw your vote away…if you can’t vote for Obama then at least vote for the guy who wants to throw the garbage out from day one..vote for impeachment, vote Nader.

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  3. Robert M says:

    At last speech he gushed on Hilliary and Bill including leading cheers. She at least is attempted penance by keeping the rally on Obama. He has never done anything here in Pennsylvania to help Obama. In fact, he has been about as much help as he was to Al Gore in Fla.So he can sod off.
    Since he has been district attorney here in Philadelphia he has been a carpet bagger. Just like the whore he put so much into is a carpet bagger from Arkansas. Should he find out that the Christian view of the afterlife is correct he will find himself standing beside the Clinton’s in the 8th level of Hell occupying two sections of it like them

    Reply

  4. Arun says:

    The reader should understand that what this blog offers is a window into what some influential people think. As with George Dubya’s reading habits and supposed erudition, it may have no contact with reality.
    Here is the complacency in play (you can find this on one of the news wires):
    “At one rally, in a North Philadelphia neighborhood near Temple University, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the popular former Philadelphia mayor who backed Clinton in the primary, warned the crowd of 20,000 that Obama would need a massive turnout in Philadelphia to carry the state.
    “In the primary, only 53 percent of registered voters in Philadelphia turned out,” Rendell said. “Ladies and gentlemen, 24 days from today, 53 percent will not cut it. It will not cut it. If we want to make sure Barack Obama is the 44th president of the United States, we need to turn out at least 75 percent.”
    …..
    Still, Rendell said that when a Quinnipiac University poll came out last month showing Obama leading by 15 points, “I shuddered, because I don’t believe for a minute that we’re 15 points up” and “we can’t be overconfident for one second.”

    Reply

  5. Steve Clemons says:

    jhm — to be honest, it was someone’s sense of inevitability at a dinner in philly….perhaps that is all it was. more soon, steve

    Reply

  6. jhm says:

    Was this inevitability in PA? or the US? or just Phily?

    Reply

  7. jeff says:

    Living in Philadelphia it’s hard not to feel like Obama is going to
    win and win big. That said, the Obama camp knows not to take it as
    a done deal. They learned from Hillary’s mistake.

    Reply

  8. Steve Clemons says:

    Liz — Thanks. I think his ad buy and all of the large scale ad buys in battle ground states are vital…very important. I think that they need to run scared until the finish line — The gap between them is wide now, but not definitively so. So yes, I think that the ad buys they are doing are in contrast to the tone some felt that evening.
    Should be an interesting couple of weeks.
    Hope you are well.
    Steve

    Reply

  9. kim says:

    Look, I like Obama; but isn’t the lesson of Iraq (and of the USSR, and of the British Empire) don’t invade Afghanistan?

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  10. Liz says:

    Steve, I thought of one more thing. What does Obama’s 30 minute ad buy tell you ? Do you really think that if he thought he had this “in the bag” in 23 days that he would be proceeding with that strategy ? Perhaps this was already in the works many months ago and they just decided to proceed, however that may indicate an understanding on the campaign’s part that this is not a done deal in any way. I’m not arguing with you, just wondering if you had considered that in your thinking.

    Reply

  11. Liz says:

    I love Steve’s gossip and find his comments interesting. I would suspect that this is more likely much ado about nothing involving large egos, previous Hillary supporters, and the inevitable tendency of democrats to “eat their own”. It is quite possible that there was an air of inevitability during the event and it would be interesting to know more about how such an atmosphere was generated (speakers, agenda, etc.) and by whom.

    Reply

  12. Robert Morrow says:

    INEVITABLE. No problem acting like that if it is the truth. Let me spell out it for you, Obama is I-N-E-V-I-T-A-B-L-E to be the next president … unless he commits some sort of mind boggling mistake. Like Edwin Edwards used to say, the only way Obama could lose was to be caught in bed with a live boy or a dead woman. In this case, it might have to be a farm animal on videotape.
    This is going to be a blow out. Obama could very well win ALL FOUR of Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. All big electoral Republican states in the past. That is in addition to Nevada, New Mexico, Penn, Wisc, Minnesota. How about buckle of the Bible Belt – Missouri and even Republican forever Indiana for crying out loud? I think Obambi will win ALL of those above states and tack on N. Hampshire, also.
    In my mind Obama has 95%+ chance, although the political trading markets are a bit lower with Iowa University’s political market at 84% Obama and http://www.intrade.com at a measly 79%. Iowa has Obama getting 55% of popular vote vs. McCain 44%. If true, that is an electoral college landslide.
    Iowa’s link: http://iemweb.biz.uiowa.edu/quotes/Pres08_Quotes.html
    Also, here is http://www.intrade.com
    Let’s not forget about the vastly superior GROUND GAME that Obama has and that is NOT being reflected in current polling. That long Demo primary was great for registering voters and identifying the Democratic base. That alone will be immense tools for Obama forces to use.
    The Republican base to this day hates McCain, they only put up with him because he put Palin on the ticket. Nobody is busting their ass getting out the vote for McNasty. I sure am not; I’ve got more important things to do like organizing my sock drawer.
    McCain’s whole strategy was to somehow get nominated then you must vote for me over Hillary. Guess what? Hillary is NOT on the ballot. Black JFK, or black Reagan or black Jesus is on the ballot. Soon to be the first black president, not you Bill Clinton.
    The racist vote against Obama is just not going to matter because most of them live in states like KTY, TENN, SC, ALA, LA that Obama is not going to win anyhow. Besides there will be plenty of inner city black racists voting FOR Obama in key places like Philly, Cleveland, Detroit, and East St. Louis. And even Virginia and North Carolina should see massive black voter turnout for Obama that could really skew things his way.
    There just is NO grassroots enthusiasm for McCain. Are you kidding me??? And the hard core right simply does not hate Obama like they hated the Clintons. They may even hate McCain as much as they don’t like Obama.
    Have I mentioned MONEY that Obama is going to whack McCain with like a 2×4 for the last month? Money to buy a channel loop all day running ads, money for TV every-freaking-where, money for mailers, money for GOTV efforts. Money, money, money and it is getting easier every day to raise that money because folks like to invest in the INEVITABLE WINNER, which is going to be Barrack Hussein Obama.
    How about that timely STOCK MARKET CRASH favoring Obama? Heck, I and a chicken might could even get elected under these conditions. But McCain has a solid plan because he says “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” NOT! His campaign all but ended with that comment.; Phil Gramm says we are a nation of whiners. Well let me tell you what McCain is:
    have you ever seen the propped up corpse in the movie “Weekend at Bernie’s” – well, that corpse Bernie Lomax is McCain for the next 3 weeks.
    Speaking of death, Sarah Palin can field dress a moose, well, do you think she can field dress an ELEPHANT? Because one political party is a big stickin corpse that will be needing a lot of clean up or “field dressing” pretty soon.
    So let’s sum up what Obama has going for him:
    1) ahead in the polls, which do NOT take into account his far superior GROUND GAME in the swing states
    2) his GROUND GAME, volunteers, organization, superior voter identification.
    3) MONEY advantage … and it is easier to raise more of it every day
    4) grassroots ENTHUSIASM among Demo base, liberals and blacks
    5) STOCK MARKET CRASH to be blamed (unfairly) on just the party in power, soon to be OUT of power, the GOP.
    6) he is running against either a corpse or a batty old grouch, take a pick.
    7) disredited GOP with Bush’s approval rating at a sub-Artic 28% or even less.
    Before I go, let me mention ELECTION DAY EXIT POLLS which are going to be extremely favorable to Obama because a bunch of liberal female grad students are always the poll takers and they skew the results. The exit polls are going to be THROUGH THE ROOF favorable to Obama. He will again under-perform them once again, but it won’t matters. The early exit polls from Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire will really rock your socks, further demoralizing the Republicans. He could be ahead by double digits in those swing states, but hold on to win by just 4-6%, still an amazing performance.
    And get this, local Democrats for Congress and Senate will do EVEN BETTER THAN OBAMA!! Mitch McConnell could even lose in Kty, and he does that Obama might even win Kty? Man it is going to suck to be a Republican on the night of November 4th and yes the election will be called EARLY THAT NIGHT because of Obama’s win in East Coast swing states.
    It is very likely to be an election BLOWOUT with Obama garnering 350+ electoral votes. Worst case scenario is just winning with 300+ electoral votes.
    By the way, I am voting for McCain, but he sucks … and swallows. But we won’t have to worry about him in about 3 weeks.
    In sum, it is ALL BUT INEVITABLE that Barrack Hussein Obama will be the 44th president of the USA.
    I don’t think he will be that bad of a president. He seems a like a decent guy and a family man … and at least he is not a sociopath unlike a lot of previous presidents!

    Reply

  13. arthurdecco says:

    Ahh me nit! wink

    Reply

  14. arthurdecco says:

    Re: Posted by PissedOffAmerican Oct 11, 4:20PM
    My Gawd! I wanna bee yur A Gent! Yer a riter fer sher! Jeanie Us!

    Reply

  15. Richard says:

    Ed Rendell was as vociferous against Obama in PA as one could get in the primary, even bringing in the “white people here won’t vote for Obama” nonsense. There’s no doubt that he’s going to be in the penalty box for awhile…. Memories aren’t that short…

    Reply

  16. toutatis says:

    I don’t believe Steve is being fair about this and it is his blog and he can say whatever he wants.
    Personally I believe Obama is destined to be our next President in the same way FDR was in 1932 and Lincoln was in 1860. Of course, all had to run a hard-fought, in-the-mud political campaign but in the end there was an inevitability about it as bitter as the losers reacted. Obama has the same fine judgment, temperament, way with people, and tenacious character that Lincoln and FDR had. I firmly believe that 100 years from now, Obama will be as revered as the 44th President as Lincoln was as the 16th.

    Reply

  17. Bil says:

    Agree Karl, AND Bolton is STILL getting press and interviews?
    I mean other than Perles was ANYONE that consistently wrong?

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  18. BIl says:

    Ditto POA, I still haven’t forgotten the Obama train throwing Wesley
    Clarke OFF the train for telling the truth, that hurt.

    Reply

  19. Karl says:

    Bil – I absolutely agree that Steve is fair. Which is exactly why I was disappointed in that piece. Maybe I have too high expectations. I don’t know. I’ve read this site first thing every day to get a fair take and have for over a year and this is one of the only things I think was over the top.
    Steve – I guess I can see your point. But I don’t think two attendees of one fundraising dinner is anywhere close to enough to call Obama or his campaign acting inevitable. We’ll see if it becomes a trend, I think it could be as little as feeling happy that your campaign is throwing the biggest fundraiser in a states history.
    I have to say. One thing I am happy about is the meltdown of Bolton and his allies. His chief Senate ally Norm Coleman looks likely to go down in defeat and while it seems he’s hijacked McCain’s policy camp on North Korea at least that position is becoming more and more isolated.

    Reply

  20. Bill R. says:

    In reviewing comments on this thread and the previous one this subject of this most **important** fund-raising dinner, one might think this dinner was the center of the political universe.
    What I do know is that out here, on the ground, people are working their fannies off, registering voters, canvassing, getting out the vote. And that’s what matters, not what Steve thinks based on what two rich guys said, or whether Ed Rendell’s ego was bruised, and these people on the ground and the four million contributors are what’s going to determine the outcome. Our guy, Obama, has his eye on the prize, and he’s going to sprint to the finish line.

    Reply

  21. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Obama’s camp needs to understand that there are voters such as myself that are voting more to keep Palin/McCain OUT of office than we are to put Obama IN office. I am none too thrilled with Obama’s backpeddling on the Israel/Palistinian issue, the fealty he pays to AIPAC, his vote on the FISA deal, and many more aspects of his policy decisions and campaign rhetoric. And his failure to sound the klaxon to hold the Bush Administration accountable for blatantly criminal acts, both before and during his candidacy, does not seem the attitude one would expect from someone that does not intend to exercise the same kinds of abuses.
    My support for Obama is tenuous at best, and easily turned to apathy and disgust with both candidates. I can imagine waking up on election day, yawning, and saying “fuck’em both”, and going back to sleep. However, my disdain for Palin/McCain is not near as tepid as my support for Obama is. Undoubtedly, I’ll bite down on some leather, and trudge to the polls in an effort to do my part to keep this Palin wackjob and her political sugar daddy from oozing their slimey hind ends into the catbird seat.
    But if, between now and then, Obama’s actions convince me that he is as insincere and as inclined to the status quo as I suspect he is, then he will lose my vote. And I’m not alone. Many of us are fed up and dissillusioned, and supporting Obama reluctantly. I could never bring myself to vote for McCain, but I can certainly, with clear conscience, rescind my weak support for Obama.
    Obama better keep his nose to the grindstone and work hard to sustain the tenuous support of people like myself, or there might just be an army of us snoozing through election day, or simply goin’ fishing. Truth be told, a full fishing creel may well be more rewarding to the common citizen than having either one of these posturing politicos in the Oval Office may be.

    Reply

  22. Bil says:

    Karl, Steve is as impartial an observer as I have found, and what is
    wrong with anticipating a scenario anyway? Something the Bush2
    administration might have tried instead of Group think circle jerk.
    Chill. Shoot some other messenger, doth protest too loudly etc
    etc…
    Ed Rendell backed the wrong pony, get over it Ed; you can eat too
    much at that table also.

    Reply

  23. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks Karl. I have tremendous respect for Barack Obama and as I said, I do want him to win. But I guess I disagree with you. There are just a few weeks left. He needs to be nimble and anticipate what’s ahead and keep running hard. You don’t ease up at the end of the race — and he’s already had his Silky Sullivan come from behind moments a few times already.
    The reason he is ahead is that the economy is melting down….he should not be “happy” about that — nor triumphal. Other exogenous, unexpected shocks could occur and then he’d be “unhappy.” His happiness should be irrelevant to the toughest, most important race he’s been in and one that is hugely consequential to the nation.
    So, I guess no — I won’t yield to him on attitude…he needs to connect with those least well off and keep working hard and not convey even in the slightest that this race is sorting out in his favor. Absolutely not.
    I’ll write more about North Korea. It’s very important — but right now I’m mostly pleased to see how publicly angry John Bolton is — and this is an indication of how privately frustrated the Cheney camp is.
    Thanks much for your note — and I do get what you are saying…but I don’t think this is tabloidish…it is what it was…two high paying attendees who had comments on the dinner. I think it matters….and hope the Obama team stays on the earnest side of this process a while longer.
    best, steve

    Reply

  24. Karl says:

    Steve. We don’t have any proof of this and even if he is feeling good. So what?
    Barack Obama has been campaigning for president for what? 20 months straight? He has barely seen his family that whole time, he’s working 20 hour days. Can you imagine how stressful and painful that would be to not be able to see your family for weeks, sometimes close to months in a row over two years?
    Come on. If you’d invested all of that into a campaign and found yourself in Obama’s position, wouldn’t you be a little happy? His campaign has shown no signs of letting down. He’s not taking a vacation or anything. His campaign is fighting with everything and so is he. Hillary Clinton ran on inevitability. Barack Obama hasn’t done anything close to that no matter what a few sources may say to you.
    And I’m not saying this as a attack on you or beacuse I don’t think you should criticize anything Obama does, in fact you’ve made a lot of fair criticisms that I agree with. There is a difference between fair criticisms of candidates policy and campaigns and gossipy cheap shots, which is what this is.
    I’m a big fan of your work Steve. But this is a cheap shot. That’s the kind of tabloid style “journalism” I’d expect to see in a gossip rag not in the Washington Note.
    On another note, I’d love to hear more about what you think about the implications of the North Korea deal.

    Reply

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