WASHINGTON Hillary Rodham Clinton needs Barack Obama's donors to help retire her sizable debt. Obama, who's forgoing public funds for the general election, could use her donors to boost his ample fundraising.
The two former Democratic presidential rivals filed their May fundraising reports Friday hers awash in red ink and his lacking the high-dollar sizzle of his previous monthly reports.
How the campaigns can help each other will be a likely topic when Obama, the Democrats' nominee in waiting, meets with Clinton and some of her top fundraisers on Thursday in Washington. The two then plan to campaign together on Friday. But so far, the Obama camp has not devised a Clinton assistance plan.
Asked on Friday whether Obama's finance team had discussed ways to ease Clinton's debt when it met Thursday night in Chicago, Obama communications director Robert Gibbs said "those meetings have focused more on what these two can do together to bring the party together and move it forward than it has on these logistical details."
Clinton and her backers, meanwhile, are eager for some help.
The former first lady, who bowed out of the Democratic contest on June 7, reported a $22.5 million debt at the end of May, more than half of which was a personal loan to her presidential campaign. She lent her campaign nearly $2.2 million in May, bringing her total personal investment in the campaign to $12.175 million. She had $3.4 million cash on hand left for primary spending. She also had more than $23 million for the general election, money her campaign cannot use.
Obama had his weakest fundraising month of the year, collecting $22 million and ending the month with $43 million cash on hand and $304,000 in debts. But $10 million of his available cash can only be spent in the fall after the party national conventions, leaving $33 million for the summer months. Obama's decision to bypass the general election's public finance system allows him to use left over primary money in the fall campaign.
Republican John McCain, who secured his party's nomination in March, raised $21 million in May and had $31.6 million in the bank. The figures place him virtually on the same financial footing as Obama.