By Amie Parnes - 09/23/15 08:49 PM EDT
Democratic fundraisers are urging Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonVoters won't get a refund on Election 2016 choice HHS chief: EpiPen cost surge could have been avoided Arizona Republic gets death threats after endorsing Clinton MORE to make Bill ClintonBill ClintonAide: Trump 'gracious' for not mentioning Bill Clinton infidelities Trump camp talking points: Mention Monica Lewinsky The Trail 2016: Miss Universe crashes campaign MORE a bigger part of her presidential campaign, particularly when it comes to fundraising.
The donors, who have contributed some of the biggest checks to President Obama and the Democratic Party, are disappointed by the lack of face time, overall communication and gratitude from Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail.
Hillary Clinton is “lacking a certain personal touch,” the person said. The source added that the former secretary of State “publicly, is a little stiff.”
Donors think Bill Clinton, who so far has been on the sidelines of his wife’s presidential bid, could fill a void for the campaign.
“She doesn’t come across as naturally comfortable in these settings,” the donor said. “Bill Clinton is the complete opposite. The more social an environment, the more at ease he feels.”
Bill Clinton is starting to make the rounds at fundraisers — he attended his first two big-dollar events in Chicago last week. And the Clinton campaign says there are plans for the former president to appear at more fundraisers for his wife this fall.
Clinton — who famously opened up the Lincoln Bedroom during his presidency — is also set to attend fundraisers for Priorities USA, the super-PAC backing his wife’s bid.
After playing a huge role in Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign, the “explainer in chief” has seldom appeared alongside his wife at campaign events in this cycle.
It’s all part of a strategy by the Clinton campaign, particularly at the beginning of the presidential race, to avoid a repeat of 2008, when Bill Clinton overshadowed his wife at times and made some controversial comments that caused unneeded headaches for her campaign.
This time, the idea was to put Hillary Clinton front and center for voters.
“I think it’s important, and Hillary does too, that she go out there as if she’s never run for anything before and establish her connection with the voters,” the former president told Town & Country magazine in April. “And that my role should primarily be as a backstage adviser to her until we get much, much closer to the election.”
J.B. Pritzker, the billionaire venture capitalist and longtime Clinton donor who hosted the Chicago fundraiser that Bill Clinton attended last week, said in an interview on Tuesday that he has not heard the consternation from those in the donor world.
Calling the donors who voiced complaints “outliers,” he said most want to hear from Hillary Clinton herself.
“She’s listening to the voters and putting her views out there on her own,” Pritzker said. “She’s running as her own candidate.”
“I don’t think it has been a hindrance to the campaign that he hasn’t been out there,” he said of the former president.
But a number of donors contacted by The Hill say a campaign criticized as lackluster so far could use Bill’s personal touch.
Since the start of the campaign in April, there has been very little, if any, interaction in person with either Clinton, particularly for Obama’s biggest fundraisers, they say.
Face time with the candidate has been limited to brief grip-and-grins in photo lines after an event, with no phone calls and few meetings with small groups.
The sentiment that Hillary Clinton isn’t doing enough for donors is echoed far and wide among the relatively small circle of people who like to feel appreciated not only for writing large checks but for their countless hours fundraising for the candidate.
The former secretary of State has attended a number of fundraisers around the country, including one Tuesday in Dallas, where hosts Marc and Wendy Stanley raised more than $27,000, according to a campaign official.
But that hasn’t been enough, say unhappy fundraisers, who also warn they could flock to Vice President Biden if he decides to enter the Democratic race.
“The assumption is that everyone is just going to get behind them because they’re the only game in town,” the donor said. “But this is why there’s an opening for someone like Joe Biden.”
“If this was a business, you’d never run it that way,” the donor said. “I’ve been unbelievably shocked by the lack of basic courtesy.”
A second donor, who has given money to the Clinton campaign, agreed. “There needs to be more than a 10-second
photo-op in a long photo line. The campaign needs someone to cultivate these relationships. The person who can do that ably is Bill Clinton.”
Pritzker conceded that Bill Clinton “may be one of the best retail politicians in my lifetime, so that makes him one heck of a good surrogate.”
He said the former president’s first two fundraisers last week in Chicago were successful and “very well attended,” and he expects that his presence at other big-dollar events will only help.
“There is no better surrogate for a candidate,” he said. “He is out there now and he is helping and it can only be a big plus for the campaign.”