August 25th, 2008
09:30 AM ET
13 years ago

Angry Clinton backers targeted

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="A new McCain ad is targeting supporters of Hillary Clinton."](CNN) - As the Republican campaign to take advantage of fresh reports of friction between the Clinton and Obama camps shifts into high gear, John McCain released his second ad in two days aimed at wooing the New York senator's disappointed supporters.

Watch: McCain's new ad targets Clinton supporters

The new spot stars the Democratic convention delegate who lost her slot two months ago when she said publicly she'd vote for McCain, not presumptive nominee Barack Obama. After the party's decision, McCain asked Debra Bartoshevich to join him on the Straight Talk Express during a campaign visit to her home state of Wisconsin.

Watch: How is McCain's new ad playing out?

"I'm a proud Hillary Clinton Democrat," says Bartoshevich, a nurse, in the 30-second spot. "She had the experience and judgment to be president. Now, in a first for me, I'm supporting a Republican, John McCain.

"A lot of Democrats will vote McCain. It's okay, really!"

The TV ads, and the campaign's "Citizens for McCain" outreach initiative to former Clinton supporters, are being joined this week by efforts on the ground, as senior advisor Carly Fiorina and other top McCain officials head to Denver to recruit these disaffected Democrats. The Republican National Committee – which has opened a temporary war room in Denver – has made it clear the effort is a convention priority. "Typically when parties are split, the other one wins," RNC Chairman Mike Duncan told reporters.

Bartoshevich is among a small group of self-described Clinton-turned-McCain voters who've traveled to Denver this week and organized a kind of parallel counter-convention, with daily press conferences, protests, and movie screenings.

Sunday evening, a few dozen gathered in a former garage-turned-cafĂ© a few minutes and light-years away from downtown Denver for the premiere of a new anti-Obama documentary, "The Audacity of Democracy." Participants included PUMA founder Will Bower – part of a pro-Clinton group that visited McCain headquarters shortly after she conceded in June – and Andy Martin, a conservative activist and author of an anti-Obama book who has been credited by supporters of the Democrat's campaign as the original source of the false rumor that he is a Muslim.

Nearly all of those interviewed said they planned to vote for the Republican ticket in the fall. Some insisted Clinton might still stage a convention floor coup and win the nomination Wednesday; others said they believed McCain might tap her as VP of a unity ticket

Reports that Clinton was planning to ask her delegates to support Obama were greeted by some there with angry disbelief. "Have you heard it from her mouth? Have you? Have you? Did her campaign say it on the record?" demanded a woman in a black pro-Hillary t-shirt. "Yeah, I didn't think so," she said, and walked away.

Others expressed hope that McCain might tap her as his running mate on a new "unity ticket." "We went to mass and prayed for it," said Toni Leigh of Taos, New Mexico. "They would make a great team."

Monday morning, Bartoshevich herself – along with a few other minor celebrities of the "PUMA" movement – is slated to hold an RNC-sponsored press conference plugging the Arizona senator's presidential bid.

soundoff (167 Responses)
  1. Susan

    Obama made an unfortunate mistake not picking Hillary for veep. Now millions of her supporters will vote for McCain.

    August 25, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  2. S.T. Vandergrift

    I will vote for McCain! I was a Hillary supporter and I do not think Obama has the experience to be president. I was further insulted when he chose Biden as his VP selection. If Obama had wanted unity in the party, he would have chosen Hillary.

    August 25, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  3. Christina

    Hillary is capable of telling these PUMA women, in strong terms, to stop undermining Obama on her behalf. Why doesn't she?

    August 25, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  4. Not as Dumb as you think

    Does the McCain Camp have any ideas to fix the problems we are currently facing? or do they just like to continue the Bush negativity train...

    At least Obama has ideas.

    August 25, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  5. J, Philly PA

    Wow, what foolishness....
    Why does CNN keep fueling drama and enabling these PUMA wackos?? There is no way that Hillary would ever join a ticket with John McCain, I've heard her say dozens of times that her goal is to get rid of the Republicans!

    August 25, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |

    TYPICAL republican behavior – divide and conquer – the only problem is those that are so called "Clinton voters" were never democrats and were only voting for a women regardless of her positions on the issues, her inability to run an effective campaign and her lack of fundamental management skills to keep her staff from fighting amongst each other. They were never democrats.

    August 25, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  7. KateyGreen

    This says it all. While the Democrats try to narrow their base by trashing Hillary and her supporters, by threatening Hillary with their thuggish tactics, the Republicans try to expand their base by trying to appeal to disaffected Democrats. This is how the Republicans have won through the years. And for all of their talk, Roe v Wade has survived Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II. It will survive McCain.

    August 25, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  8. Michael in NC

    This doesn't make any sense, people!!! Hillary and Obama shared a very similar stance on the major issues (Iraq, national health care, the economy, etc.), while McCain has an entirely different one altogether. How can you possibly go from supporting Hillary to supporting McCain?! Unless you don't care about the issues period and are making this major decision out of pure spite? Aren't we Americans better than that?

    August 25, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  9. nic


    August 25, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  10. John Hussein Karsten

    We will only have to hear her name a few more a REAL democrat, I would have voted for her, but she mis-managed her campaign, so I won't and can't vote for her.
    Remember PUMA folks, if we lose this year, we Obama supporters WILL blame you for this loss and what goes around, comes around. We will not FORGET......but in the end Obama and Biden will win in a huge landslide!!!!! Nobody wants four more years of bush and that is what John Mc____(fill in the blank is)!!

    August 25, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  11. carol

    McCain should select a woman Vice President . Meg Whitman is perfect. She is accomplished–former CEO of Ebay. She helped to grow a small internet business into a global giant. She understands the needs of a small business owner. Remember , it is in small business where most new jobs are created.
    Meg Whitman is not unfamiliar to Americans . Many people have interacted with Ebay by either buying or selling items.
    Plus, by selecting a woman, McCain would show respect for all women–something Obama hasn't quite accomplished yet.
    Meg Whitman would be change you can believe in.

    August 25, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  12. Fernandez

    It is time for Howard Dean to resign. Barack is not capable of making a sound decision, He picked pciked Biden who has been 10 years too long in Congress. Is this CHANGE?
    Now its ok for Florida and Michigan to have full voting rights

    August 25, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  13. Lifelong Black Democrat

    You can make Hillary stump for Obama, but you can make ANYBODY VOTE for him. You should have left well enough alone and let Hillary lose or win without such gross manipulation and crude bias-it's left so much bitterness and disaffection. Even I am suprised at how turned off I am to the whole election.

    August 25, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  14. Scott from NC

    McCain should tap Billary as his VP!!!! Then all those whiners could just go away and vote for McBush. Could you imagine Bill Clinton's wife as VP??? Ha!!!

    August 25, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  15. William Spivey

    who the hell needs her in the DNC? Take HRC with you.

    August 25, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  16. John McGillivray

    The more this goes on,the more i've come to realize that this is not a campaign to elect Obama but to take over the Democratic Party from Bill Clinton & Hillary.The Democrats who are backing Obama don't even care if Obama wins, as long as Hillary don't .The news media are so in love with Obama they can't or won't even take it into consideration,Oh well their not the smartest people on the planet go McCain

    August 25, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  17. Tam Tam

    This woman makes no sense whatsoever. It is obvious that she just doesn't like Obama, and that's okay, but to vote for McCain and campaign for him shows that her personal preferences outweigh what the principles of the democratic party stand for because McCain is anti-Hillary on the issues from the economy to the war.

    August 25, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  18. Dash Riprock

    A lot of Republicans and Indys will vote for Obama, so it all balances out! See how well that works?

    CNN, we're tired of you giving voice to a few delusional Clinton fans and right wing plants. These divide and conquer tactics may have worked in the past, but not this time

    August 25, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  19. Brian

    This just makes me sick. Obviously Hillary supportes are not supporting her due to what she believes in. Otherwise they wouldn't go against everything she believes in by voting for McCain. It's quite disgusting. As far as her not getting VP, why would they want Hillary in such a role as VP where she can't do nearly as much for the country as she can in the Senate?? I'll tell you why.... ego. It sounds better, and she's a woman, and that's all it is. Otherwise there is absoluetly no argument as to why Hillary supporters are so angry. How about the fact that she didn't even WANT to be VP?

    You support Hillary so much, that now you don't even want to listen to her or even follow her beliefs. That makes ALOT of sense. And it makes even less sense for the women supporting Hillary. To go and support a candidate who is so anti-women's rights is just unbelievable. You get what you deserve in the end.

    August 25, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  20. Fed up with the lies

    Seriously folks; you need to get over the fact Sen. Clinton lost, and get behind Sen. Obama. Voting your anger is only going to guarantee another four years of hell for America. John McCain is not a maverick; he is a follower of George Bush, and will continue to drive our country in to the ground.

    Sen. Clinton will likely run again in four years, and if Sen. Obama hasn't done a good job in your eyes; by all means vote for her then. But if you cross party lines and vote for Sen. McCain; you will be handing her a tougher job than Sen. Obama faces now.

    Please take a minute to think this through, and get a Democrat into the White House who will help Congress get this country back on track.

    Thank you.

    Obama & Biden '08

    August 25, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  21. You'll be sorry Hilllary Supporters

    If Barack loses the election because Hillary Clinton supporters vote for McCain why do you think she will win in 2012? His supporters will not vote for her either. I saying this because when it happens I'm not going to show up to vote in the next election and I'm sure there are plenty of people who feel the same.

    In fact I don't believe these poles. barck has raised more money than any politician in American history. All of his supporters will vote and he will win by a landslide.

    August 25, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  22. Bulldog

    How much was this lady paid? She doesn't talk about a single issue she just demostrates her anger over losing. Anybody who votes for John McCain out of anger better be able to take responsiblity if he wins. They will have no right to complain the next 4 years when their children and grandchildren are drafted into the military and they see poor people getting poorer while the wealthy get wealthier.

    August 25, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  23. Ali

    She should have lost her spot. Delegates are supposed to be commited party members.

    August 25, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  24. Phil Newton from Murphy, Oregon

    "A lot of Democrats will vote McCain. It's okay, really!"

    Don't make me puke.

    August 25, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  25. david

    way to go hillary you have given the republicans plenty of ammo to use against obama no wonder he didn't call u for the vp slot...

    August 25, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
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