US Elections 2016

Clinton's big money v focus on little guy

A supporter outside a fund-raiser for Mrs Clinton on Tuesday in Piedmont, California. Mrs Clinton is attending fund-raisers in the state.
A supporter outside a fund-raiser for Mrs Clinton on Tuesday in Piedmont, California. Mrs Clinton is attending fund-raisers in the state.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • Mrs Hillary Clinton may have touted her growing support from small contributors, whose donations of US$200 (S$270) or less made up nearly 40 per cent of her campaign's US$62 million haul last month.

But she devoted much of this month to seeking big money to finance the Democratic Party, a race for cash that has taken her from Connecticut to Massachusetts to California.

The fund-raising drive is a reminder of her deep and decades-long connections to some of the country's wealthiest figures, a jarring contrast with her efforts to cast herself as an ally of those left out of prosperity. "There is too much inequality, too little upward mobility. It is just too hard to get ahead today," Mrs Clinton said during a major economic speech this month in the blue-collar community of Warren, Michigan.

That appeal to working-class voters was bookended by two expensive fund-raisers. The night before, Mrs Clinton had held a US$25,000-a-head event in nearby Birmingham at the home of a musician whose father was the owner of basketball's Detroit Pistons. Legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin provided entertainment for the roughly 70 guests.

And on the evening of her speech, donors paid US$50,000 apiece to mingle with the candidate at the Chicago Club, one of the city's most exclusive social gathering places.

"Hillary Clinton's donors own her," Republican nominee Donald Trump said at a rally in Ohio on Monday night. "They own her lock, stock and barrel... and she will do whatever they tell her to do."

She spent most of this month raising huge sums for the party. Last weekend, she got at least US$3.8 million from five events held by the likes of investor Lynn Forester de Rothschild and former Universal Studios chief executive Frank Biondi.

Those who have observed Mrs Clinton in these settings say that she takes pains to point out the vast economic chasm between the attendees and the majority of Americans. "She starts by saying that the economy is working for all of us in the room, but it's not working for too many people and her job is to make it work for everybody," said Democrat Wade Randlett who is raising money for Mrs Clinton's campaign.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2016, with the headline 'Clinton's big money v focus on little guy'. Subscribe