August 17, 2008
At the Democratic national convention next week, Lynn Forester, Lady de Rothschild, one of Britain’s most influential political hostesses, will be contemplating treachery. She poured her heart and money into Hillary Clinton’s campaign and she is thinking of voting for John McCain, the Republican candidate, for president.
She is not impressed by Barack Obama and doubts he will reach the White House. “My loyalty is to the Democrats winning. Barack Obama is going to have a serious problem getting elected, for good reason,” she said in an interview.
“The party needs to face the fact that without Hillary Clinton on the ticket, the Democrats will probably lose.”
Rothschild, 54, is a New York businesswoman and top fundraiser for Clinton who married into the British banking dynasty.
The billionaire Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, 22 years her senior and former chairman of the family firm, NM Rothschild, will be with her in Denver when Obama is crowned the victor. She regards the presumptive Democratic nominee, 47, as something of a usurper.
The Rothschilds spent the night of their wedding dinner in the Lincoln bedroom at the White House when Bill Clinton was president, so her loyalty to Hillary is understandable. However, the passionate distrust of Obama shared by many Clinton supporters is turning into a headache for the Democrats.
Leon Panetta, Bill Clinton’s former White House chief of staff, was tasked by the Obama campaign this summer with soothing ruffled feelings and helping Hillary loyalists to get over their sense of loss. It has been a demanding assignment.
“There is a sense of entitlement that almost seems to be inbred,” Panetta said. “They are convinced Hillary is the one who should be assuming the mantle and it’s tough to crack that.”
Rothschild is the founder of Together4Us, a group formed to “honour” Clinton and the nearly 18m voters who supported her in the primaries. Among its demands were a state-by-state roll-call of votes – a final show of muscle by the vanquished Clinton – and a prime speaking slot for her.