- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 29, 2016

Faced with sagging fundraising numbers, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign admitted it was wrong in assuming GOP nominee Donald Trump couldn’t possibly win a general election contest, and that it needs a cash infusion to move beyond a bruising primary and take on the mogul.

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told supporters in an email that the campaign took for granted that donations would pick up once a Clinton-versus-Trump November matchup became certain.

Instead, the campaign says fundraising numbers in May have dropped, and the Clinton operation’s assumption that voters would reject Mr. Trump have been proven wrong.

“One assumption seemed pretty safe: That if we were to wind up running against Donald Trump, our supporters, especially our grassroots donors, would be so horrified that they’d step up big time. It’s now been three weeks since Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, and the fact is that isn’t happening yet,” Mr. Mook said in the email.

The plea underscored a tumultuous week for Democrats. Party members on Capitol Hill openly pondered whether to remove Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz because she had become an obstacle to unifying the party behind Mrs. Clinton.

Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernard Sanders and his supporters, in particular, have accused Mrs. Wasserman Schultz — who insists she has the support of her party — of gaming the nominating process to benefit Mrs. Clinton.

On Sunday Mr. Sanders said the process wasn’t so much rigged as inherently flawed, with closed primaries shutting out independent voters who would back him.

“That’s not rigged, I think it’s just a dumb process, which has certainly disadvantaged our campaign,” Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent and self-described democratic socialist, told “Face the Nation” on CBS.

Mr. Sanders said he poses a greater electoral threat to Mr. Trump than Mrs. Clinton, who was dealt a setback by a State Department inspector general’s report Wednesday that said she broke government rules by setting up her own secret email server, and that she failed to report hacking attempts and waved off warnings that she should switch to an official email account.

Two days later, a rattled Clinton camp urged their primary donors to hit the reset button and take Mr. Trump seriously.

“Don’t get me wrong — you’ve been amazing,” Mr. Mook’s email said. “But for the time being, our fundraising is actually DOWN slightly from where it was in April. I don’t know if it’s that you think we don’t need the money yet (we do), or that Trump couldn’t possibly win (he really, really could), or if you’re just exhausted from a long primary (I don’t blame you!) — but whatever your reasons are, I am personally asking you to get up off the bench and help make sure the most extreme, erratic presidential nominee in history never makes it to the White House.”

General election polls have shown Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump competitive nationwide, and some surveys actually have shown the billionaire businessman virtually even or slightly ahead in key battleground states such as Ohio and Florida.

Mrs. Clinton in recent weeks has turned all of her attention to Mr. Trump and is all but ignoring her lingering battle against Mr. Sanders.

Mr. Sanders refused to use Mrs. Clinton’s emails as a political cudgel against her Sunday, saying the FBI will finish its own probe soon enough, and that she is still a far better choice than Mr. Trump.

He also refused to say whether he would accept an offer to become Mrs. Clinton’s vice presidential pick, saying he’s focused on a three-point plan to secure the nomination for himself.

To do that, he must win big in California on June 7 and do well enough in five other states to nab a majority of pledged delegates. He also wants to sway superdelegates to his side in states where he won by large margins, or if those delegates rallied to Mrs. Clinton’s side before voting even began.

“There are over 400 superdelegates who made a decision to vote for Secretary Clinton before anyone else was in the race,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Before they got a sense of what the campaign was about. And all that I am saying is for those superdelegates who came onboard before I was even in the race, you have got the very grave responsibility to make sure” Mr. Trump doesn’t win.

While he waits in the wings, Mr. Trump appears to be relishing the type of intraparty turmoil that dogged the GOP primary process for months yet now seems to be infecting the Democratic side.

He closed the door Friday to a proposed debate with Mr. Sanders ahead of the California contests, saying it would be “inappropriate.”

“Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher,” Mr. Trump said in the statement.

Mr. Sanders said he didn’t really know what to make of Mr. Trump’s statement, arguing the flamboyant mogul might flip-flop and decide to debate after all. “I do appreciate his love and compassion for me,” he said, tongue in cheek, “but I don’t really accept his words.”

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