Hillary Clinton Scored with Republican Donors

Eric Zuesse

An analysis of Federal Election Commission records, by TIME, which was published on 23 October 2012, just before Obama’s re-election against Republican Mitt Romney, showed that the 2012 donors to Romney’s campaign were already donating more to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign than they had been donating to any one of the 2016 campaigns of — listed here in declining order below  Clinton — Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, George Pataki, or Jim Gilmore. Those major Romney donors also gave a little to two Democrats (other than to Hillary — who, as mentioned, received a lot of donations from Republican donors): Martin O’Malley, Jim Web, and Lawrence Lessig. (Romney’s donors gave nothing to Bernie Sanders, and nothing to Elizabeth Warren.)

Clinton is the only Democratic candidate who is even moderately attractive to big Republican donors.

In ascending order above  Clinton, Romney’s donors were donating to: John Kasich, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Jeb Bush. The top trio — of Bush, Cruz, and Rubio — together, received around 60% of all the money donated for the 2016 race by the people who had funded Mitt Romney’s 2012 drive for the White House.  

So: the Democrat Hillary Clinton scored above 14 candidates, and below 6 candidates. She was below 6 Republican candidates, and she was above 11 Republican candidates. The 6 candidates she scored below were: Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, and John Kasich.

This means that, in the entire 17-candidate Republican  field, she drew more Republican money than did any one of 11 of the Republican candidates, but less Republican money than did any one of 6 of them. So, if she were a Republican (in what would then have been an 18-candidate Republican field for 2016), she would have been the 7th-from-the-top recipient of Romney-donor money.

Hillary Clinton, therefore, to Republican donors, is a more attractive prospect for the U.S. Presidency than was 64% of the then-current  17-member Republican field of candidates.

Another way to view this is that, to Republican donors, a President Hillary Clinton was approximately as attractive a Presidential prospect to those big Republican donors as was a President Graham, or a President Kasich — and more attractive than a President Lindsey Graham, a President Rand Paul, a President Carly Fiorina, a President Chris Christie, a President Rick Perry, a President Mike Huckabee, a President Donald Trump, a President Bobby Jindal, a President Rick Santorum, or a President George Pataki.

To judge from Clinton’s actual record of policy-decisions, and excluding any consideration of her current campaign-rhetoric (which is directed only at Democratic voters), all three of those candidates — Graham, Clinton, and Kasich — would, indeed, be quite similar, from the perceived self-interest standpoint of major Republican donors.

As to whether any of those three candidates as President would be substantially worse for Republican donors than would any one of the Republican big-three — Bush, Cruz, and Rubio — one can only speculate.

However, the main difference between Clinton and the Republican candidates is certainly the rhetoric, not the reality. The reason for that rhetoric is that Ms. Clinton is competing right now only  for Democratic votes, while each one of the Republican candidates is competing right now only  for Republican votes.

Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric is liberal, but her actual actions in politics have been conservative, except for her nominal support for liberal initiatives that attracted even some Republican support, or else that the Senate vote-counts indicated ahead of time had no real chance of passage at the time. In other words: her record was one of rhetoric and pretence on a great many issues, and of meaningful action on only issues that wouldn’t embarrass her in a Democratic primary campaign.

In a general-election contest against the Republican nominee, Clinton would move more toward the ideological center, and so also would any one of the Republican candidates, who would be nominated by Republican primaries and so running against her in the general election; but, right now, the rhetorical contest is starkly different on the Democratic side, than it is on the Republican side, simply because the candidates are trying right now to appeal to their own Party’s electorate during the primary phase of the campaign, not to the entire electorate (as during the general-election campaign).

Only in the general-election contest do all of the major candidates’ rhetoric tend more toward the center. The strategic challenge in the general election is to retain enough appeal to the given nominee’s Party-base so as to draw them to the polls on Election Day, while, at the same time, being close enough to the political center so as to attract independent voters and crossover voters from the other side.

A good example of the fudging that occurs during the general-election phase would be the 2012 contest itself. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney drew closer to the rhetorical center during the general-election matchup; but they were actually much more similar to each other than their rhetoric ever  was. (After all, Obamacare is patterned upon Romneycare.) During the general-election Romney-Obama contest, Romney famously said that Russia “is without question our number one geopolitical foe, they fight for every cause for the world’s worst actors.” Then, Obama criticized that statement, by saying, “you don’t call Russia our No. 1 enemy — not Al-Qaida, Russia — unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War mind warp.” But, now, as President, Obama’s own National Security Strategy 2015  refers to Russia on 17 of the 18 occasions where it employs the term “aggression,” and he doesn’t refer even once to Saudi Arabia that way, though the Saudi royal family (who control that country) have been the major funders of Al Qaeda, and though 15 of the 19 perpetrators on 9/11 were Saudis — none of them was Russian — and though the Saudis are using American weapons and training to bomb and starve-to-death Yemenis. Instead of calling the Saudi regime “aggressors,” we supply arms to them, and cooperate with them against their major oil-competitor, Russia. (For example, we arm the Saudi-funded jihadists that Russia is bombing in Syria, because Syria is a key potential pipeline route into Europe for Saudi oil and Qatari gas, to replace Russian oil and gas in Europe. So, we support the jihadists, even though Obama’s rhetoric opposes them. Hillary Clinton is even more hawkish against Russia than is Obama. She would be even better for Republican donors than Obama has been.) Also, on 27 March 2009, President Obama in secret told the assembled chieftains of Wall Street, “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks. … I’m protecting you.” Romney could have said the same, if he had been elected. And President Obama’s record has now made clear that he indeed has fulfilled on that promise he made secretly to them. The reality turned out to be far more like Romney, than like Obama’s campaign rhetoric had ever been. Similarly, on Obama’s trade-deals (TPP, TTIP, and TISA), he has been very much what would have been expected from Romney, though Obama in the 2008 Democratic Presidential primaries had campaigned against Hillary Clinton for her having supported and helped to pass NAFTA. Obama’s trade-deals go even beyond NAFTA, to benefit international mega-corporations at the general public’s expense.

What Hillary’s fairly strong appeal to Romney’s financial backers shows is that the wealthy, because of their access to leaders in government, know and recognize the difference between what a candidate says in public, versus what the winning public official has said (to them) in private and actually does  while serving in office.

Hillary Clinton is a good investment for a billionaire — even  for the 70% of them who are Republicans.

Here are the main investors in her, and here (most of them shown only in photos without their names being identified) are the biggest individual donors to the Clinton family. Those are figures up through the present time, not only up through 23 October 2012. She has retained a steady and loyal group of political investors. She serves them well, and they reciprocate.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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  • kimyo

    ah, the old clinton bad sanders not so bad so we should vote for him gambit…..

    for npr listeners, sure, there’s quite a disparity between clinton and sanders. otoh, those who frequent these pages are often left scratching their heads, as sanders doesn’t seem to comprehend reality.

    my top ten list of things that sanders doesn’t seem to comprehend:
    1) what’s actually happening in the ukraine (ie: us foisted coup)
    2) that carbon taxes unfairly target the poor
    3) that isis is a result of u.s. policy
    4) that the f-35 is for decorative purposes only
    5) that it is open season on black people in the u.s., by cops on steroids, lead poisoning and beyond
    6) that 300,000 vets dying while awaiting healthcare is a matter requiring attention
    7) that snowden/manning are heroes and among the bravest americans alive today
    8) that drone killings are a grievous war crime
    9) that the fda/epa/usda present more of a threat to human health than all of the other bogeymen combined
    10) that turkey, saudi arabia and israel are the most destabilizing forces in the middle east

    if he doesn’t understand these most basic issues, how can he possibly lead us to a better place?

    • cettel

      My article didn’t mention Sanders, except in an aside: “(Romney’s donors gave nothing to Bernie Sanders, and nothing to Elizabeth Warren.)”

      The author appreciates reader-comments that are relevant to what the article is alleging, not irrelevant to it.

      • kimyo

        you were one of those ‘stay within the lines kids’, no? yes?

        you know what would be really cool? sanders taunting clinton, using her own words to turn her into a rubio-esque sputtering ‘hillary-loop-bot’.

        why has he not taken her down? she is the single greatest threat against humanity and all natural life on the planet, and yet he treats her with kid gloves? tells us to get past this minor little email thingie?

        maybe he’s part of the problem.