Clinton diehards throw support behind McCain

Many of Hillary Clinton's most prominent supporters, including a number of her famous "Hillraisers," are either defecting to the Republican John McCain or withholding their support from the Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

Chief among them is the founder of the Esprit clothing store chain Susie Tompkins Buell who is bitter at what she claims was the sexist treatment of Mrs Clinton by the media during the campaign. "What really hurt women the most was to look back and see all this gender bias," she declared.

Many disaffected Clinton supporters and fundraisers believe Mr Obama did not do enough during the primary contest to end what they believe was a sneering campaign in the media. They are still angry at the way pundits referred to Mrs Clinton's laugh as a "cackle."

There is also anger at the way the mainstream media picked up on the comedian Chris Rock's comparison of Mrs Clinton to the knife- wielding madwoman in the movie Fatal Attraction.

Some of Mrs Clinton's fundraisers are pressuring the Democratic nominee to give her a prominent role in the general election campaign and in a future Obama administration.

"I am not a happy camper," said Jill Iscol, one of the 300 "Hillraisers," individuals who raised more than $100,000 (£50,000) for the Clinton campaign. But Ms Iscol said: "Not voting Democrat would be hard."

The disaffection is causing glee in the McCain campaign. Carly Fiorina, his most prominent female backer and former chief executive of the computer giant Hewlett Packard, announced yesterday that she was holding further talks with 20 of Mrs Clinton'sfinancial backers.

Details of campaign contributions reveal that in May, when Mr Obama clinched the nomination, 115 of Mrs Clinton's big contributors had switched to the Obama campaign with equal numbers donating to Mr McCain.

The front-page treatment by yesterday's Wall street Journal of the defection by some of Mrs Clinton's supporters to the Republican side was described as "quite misleading" by one of the Clinton's close advisers.

"Hillary raised almost a quarter of a billion dollars in the primary season," said Doug Sosnik who was political director in the Clinton White House. "The majority now supports the Obama campaign."

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