Hillary Clinton was on Wednesday scrambling to raise new money to keep her presidential hopes alive amid speculation that she can no longer afford to continue the battle against Barack Obama following her disappointing showing in North Carolina and Indiana on Tuesday night.
By Edward Luce in Washington
Mrs Clinton, who it was disclosed on Wednesday lent her campaign another $6.4m of her own money in recent weeks following a $5m personal loan in January, also faced mounting calls to withdraw from the race from former supporters.
On Wednesday George McGovern, the former Democratic presidential candidate, switched his support to Mr Obama saying he no longer believed Mrs Clinton could win. A number of uncommitted “superdelegates” – the unelected officials who will ultimately decide the race – were tipped to be following suit.
With Clinton officials maintaining a “never say die” stance and vowing to continue the race at least until the end of the primaries in June and possibly up to the convention in August, observers said that lack of money was likely to be the deciding factor if and when Mrs Clinton steps down.
The campaign is estimated to owe more than $10m to outside groups, such as pollsters and direct mailing companies, in addition to the $11.6m Mrs Clinton has lent it from her own resources. “Nobody drops out of a presidential race – they just run out of money,” said Sherrod Brown, a Democratic Senator for Ohio, who has not endorsed either candidate.
Fund-raisers for Mrs Clinton said she was likely to drastically cut down her advertising spending in the remaining six primary states since she would be unlikely to raise anything like the $30m needed to maintain recent spending levels in the final four weeks of the primary campaign.
But they said that even that measure may prove insufficient. “She has got hundreds of staff salaries to pay, dozens of field offices to maintain and other overheads,” said one fund-raiser. “At some stage she might have to cut her losses and stop building up future debt.”
However, Clinton officials held to the line that Mrs Clinton was still prepared to fight Mr Obama’s nomination right up to the presidential convention in Denver and to continue to persuade superdelegates she would be more electable in the autumn. “We don’t believe those arguments have suddenly lost merit,” said a senior adviser to Mrs Clinton.