WASHINGTON—Barack Obama’s presidential campaign “scored a significant hit” against chief rival Hillary Rodham Clinton “by helping to place” a story about tainted Democratic donor Norman Hsu, according to an article about Obama in the December issue of The Atlantic.
The story, titled “Teacher and Apprentice” by associate editor Marc Ambinder, describes how Obama campaign staffers were “frustrated” because the press was not covering Clinton “in the way they expected it would.”
“…And at a campaign event in Iowa, one of Obama’s aides plopped down next to me and spoke even more bluntly. He wanted to know when reporters would begin to look into Bill Clinton’s postpresidential sex life,” Ambinder writes.
Ambinder, who is covering the presidential campaign for the magazine, reveals in his piece that Clinton’s aides where blindsided by the quick rise of Obama once he jumped in the 2008 Democratic primary. “They did not perceive any threat until it was almost too late.’’ And Obama’s team was surprised because “they expected to be a large anti-Hillary vote.”
Newspaper stories last summer revealed that Hsu—a major Clinton bundler—was an outlaw, on the lam from criminal charges and suspected of improperly funneling campaign cash through straw contributors. After the stories ran, Clinton returned about $850,000 in donations linked to Hsu.
Hsu also was a donor to Obama’s senate campaign and his HOPEFUND political action committee. If Obama’s operatives had a hand in “helping to place” the Hsu story, it would be counter to the claim that Obama was running a different and unconventional campaign.
Asked for comment on whether the campaign had a hand in “helping to place” the Hsu story, Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said " We had no knowledge of Norman Hsu’s past criminal activity, fugitive status or potential straw donor scheme until reading it in the newspaper."
Regarding the unidentified aide wondering about Bill Clinton, LaBolt said "In no way, shape, or form would anyone who would say such a thing be representing our campaign."
Ambinder, told of the Obama campaign comment said, “I stand by my reporting and the article speaks for itself.”
Ambinder also writes that Clinton loyalist James Carville “continued to try to tamp down excitement over Obama by saying publicly that he expected Al Gore to get in the race” and that at one point Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle was on thin ice. “ Worried advisers to Bill Clinton unsuccessfully tried to oust Solis Doyle, who had never run a campaign,” writes Ambinder.