Presidential races

Donors wanting female president backing both Fiorina and Clinton

Greg Nash

Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina disagree on just about everything, but some donors are nonetheless supporting both presidential candidates.

In interviews over the past several weeks, a number of Clinton-Fiorina supporters told The Hill they want a woman in the White House, and
so to hedge their bets, they
are supporting a woman on the right and the front-runner on the left.

{mosads}“I believe in female leadership, and I wanted to help both female candidates in the political arena right now,” said Patricia Lizarraga, a managing partner for the New York private equity firm Hypatia Capital Group.

“I want to see more female CEOs in America and the world, and it’s imperative for the economy that we utilize all of its population and the enormous amount of talent who are on the sidelines,” added Lizarraga, who has donated $500 each to Clinton and Fiorina.

Lizarraga is not alone. The Hill reached out to 17 people who had given substantial hard-dollar donations to both the Clinton and Fiorina campaigns by the close of the third-quarter fundraising on Sep. 30. 

They live mostly on the East and West coasts and include New York grocery billionaire and radio host John Catsimatidis and Los Angeles investor Robert Day. Of the group, five agreed to speak on the record.

Most of the 17 gave the maximum $2,700 to Clinton and smaller amounts to Fiorina, though some — including Day ($100,000) and New York furniture dealer Peter Gaslow ($10,000) — gave substantially larger amounts to the pro-Fiorina super-PAC than they gave to Clinton.

In campaign dollars, though, Clinton has the edge from these dual donors, and this seems to have to do with her electability.

Despite disagreeing with certain aspects of Clinton’s and Fiorina’s agendas, a number of donors are supporting both Clinton and Fiorina due, at least in part, to their gender.

“Any woman who has something meaningful to say and takes that risk has my attention,” said Julia Copeland, a lawyer at HMP Law Firm in Charleston, S.C., who gave $1,000 to Clinton and $500 to Fiorina.

Keith Poole, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, has donated $1,000 so far to Clinton’s campaign and $400 to Fiorina’s. 

He says his top concern when deciding which candidate to support is foreign policy experience, but he concedes gender had something to do with his decision to support both Clinton and Fiorina.

“I would like to see a woman president,” Poole said. “I think it would be good for the country.”

“Hillary Clinton would be an effective president,” he added. “She would listen to advice. She is a liar and ethically defective, to say the least, but she would be capable at dealing with foreign and defense policy.”

Clinton and Fiorina are perhaps most divided in their stance on abortion, but even this emotionally charged and often-bitter policy dispute has failed to dissuade some supporters.

George Vradenburg, a former attorney and chairman of the advocacy group USAgainstAlzheimer’s, said he identifies as a moderate Republican who “admires Carly Fiorina’s fiscal savvy and Hillary Clinton’s social positions.”

“Mrs. Fiorina called me, and we had a fairly long conversation about the campaign,” said Vradenburg, who has given $2,700 so far to Clinton — the maximum an individual can give to a campaign — and $1,000 to Fiorina.

“I said I very much admired [Fiorina’s] smarts and experience, but I had reservations about her social positions,” he recalled.

“I have also talked to Clinton a number of times before, and both candidates are supportive of the [National Institutes of Health], and that’s something I care most deeply about.”

While Clinton has cast her pro-abortion rights views and steadfast support of Planned Parenthood as markers of her feminism, Fiorina has positioned herself aggressively on the opposite side, calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood and making graphic — and factually challenged — statements about the organization.

During the CNN Republican debate on Sep. 16, Fiorina said, “I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes,” referring to the undercover videos leaked by anti-abortion activists. “Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’”

Fact-checkers took Fiorina to task for that claim, saying none of the footage leaked by The Center for Medical Progress concerning Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue program contained such a scene, but the emotional statement was an instant hit on the right.

Referring to Planned Parenthood and other differences between Fiorina and Clinton, Copeland, the South Carolina lawyer, said, “I am farther left on social issues, which is where Carly and I diverge. … But I fear with Hillary that we would get the status quo on foreign and domestic policies for another four years.

“If I could combine the two [candidates] in some respects, they would make the perfect candidate,” he added. 

Copeland, a registered Republican, says she is “on the fence right now” when it comes to deciding which candidate to finally support. 

“I’m waiting for the true colors to come out for each candidate. Right now, it is just rhetoric.”

But gender was not the motivating factor for all of these dual donors. Some found common attributes they liked, such as their perceived competence.

Alexis Fasseas, a Chicago small-business owner, said she does not “support a candidate on the basis of their gender.”

“I base it off their competence and if they could do a good job in office,” said Fasseas, who has given $2,700 to Clinton and $500 to Fiorina.

Although she donated the maximum contribution to Clinton, she said the reason for the large amount was that it was her friend’s fundraising party. She is unsure whether she could support Clinton in a general election.

“I certainly appreciated [former President Bill Clinton’s] perspective when he was in the White House, but I never appreciated Hillary’s,” Fasseas said. 

“She rubbed me the wrong way, but then she became a senator for New York and the people really respected her. Her time as secretary of State, though, I think has hurt her.”

Neither the Clinton campaign nor Fiorina’s responded to questions for this article. 

Recent polls suggest that a majority of Americans expect a woman to be elected in the coming years. A Makers/Huffington Post/YouGov national poll in November with 1,000 respondents found that 56 percent believed a woman will be elected to the White House in the next decade.

A May 2015 Economist/YouGov poll showed that a majority of voters from both parties believe the U.S. is ready to elect a woman president.

But the polls that matter most right now — the surveys of presidential primary voters — suggest that of the two women, only Clinton has a good chance of winning the presidency.

While Clinton has been the Democratic front-runner throughout and has only strengthened her lead recently, Fiorina’s fortunes have plummeted.

The former Hewlett-Packard CEO soared to third place in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls shortly after her impressive performance in the Sept. 16 Republican debate, but Fiorina has since fallen to sixth place, at just 3 percent, according to the RealClearPolitics national average.

These poor poll results may deter some of these dual donors from continuing to back Fiorina. 

Poole, a registered Republican, said he would be willing to donate more to Fiorina, but since she began lagging in the polls he has stopped contributing to her campaign.

“[Fiorina] is very articulate, really knows the issues and holds her own in the debates with the clown-car candidates like Trump,” Poole said.

“I would consider giving her money a second time just to keep her alive. But I’m not sure if she will stick around.”

Tags Barack Obama Bill Clinton Hillary Clinton

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