Hillary Rodham Clinton has a solution for the summer doldrums in big-money politics: Go where the rich people go.
Specifically, where the rich liberals like to go.
Clinton will be in Water Mill, N.Y., on Saturday at the home of New York philanthropists Arthur and Selma Rabin. She returns to the Hamptons next weekend for a dinner reception at the Southampton home of celebrity fashion designer Tory Burch.
Last weekend, fundraising parties were held in her honor on the Massachusetts resort islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Democratic donors have also hosted fundraisers for her this summer in Park City, Utah, and Aspen, Colo., as well as a pair of events on Cape Cod.
“I’m just hoping that people who are Hillary supporters are going to be behind her,” Arthur Rabin said in an interview. “I want to let her talk, explain to people her views and work with her to become the president.”
Rabin said he preferred not to say much more, noting that Clinton’s hosts next weekend “are the big people,” as Democratic donors go. “I’m a small person.”
The event he will host is similar to those Clinton has attended at least once or twice a week since entering the presidential race in April. They have helped her raise a record $46.7 million between April and the end of June.
They are fairly straightforward affairs, according to attendees: Clinton mingles, poses for some pictures and delivers a slightly earthier version of her standard stump speech. She talks about the need for a steady infusion of cash for a modern campaign, even as she detests the dominance of money in the era of super PACs.
Clinton holds such events all over, from Manhattan to Los Angeles to Wayzata, Minn. But the events hosted in storied summer playgrounds for the wealthy underscore the pride of place for the super-rich in her campaign and her perch as a member of the wealthy 1 percent herself.
The candidate has so far appeared in person only at
campaign-sanctioned events that raise direct contributions of up to $2,700 per person. Later in the Democratic primary season, she is expected to also attend events sponsored by one or more of the outside super PAC fundraising operations supporting her.
By some estimates, Clinton needs to keep on pace over the summer to roughly match her average take of $15 million per month in the spring. The next Federal Election Commission report deadline comes at the end of September.
The Clinton campaign has been sensitive to the image of a wealthy candidate whose meet-the-voters moments are ringed by Secret Service agents and who commanded $225,000 per speech before she entered the 2016 race. Her campaign ads emphasize her middle-class roots and her mother’s humble beginnings, and promise that she will work to expand middle-class opportunities.
“Hillary Clinton is campaigning on her ideas to help middle-class Americans get ahead and stay ahead. Just last week she was out talking about her plan to ease the burden of college debt,” said campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin.
But many on the Democratic left distrust Clinton’s long ties to Wall Street titans and Hollywood royalty, both key sources of campaign money. She has watched her formidable lead among Democrats erode because of the populist surge of Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), an independent who eschews most fundraisers.
Clinton is not taking much of a vacation this summer, but she did spend a long weekend with former president Bill Clinton and friends on Martha’s Vineyard, where the Clintons partied alongside President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at presidential confidant Vernon Jordan’s 80th birthday party.
Clinton is not the only candidate whose wealth and connections pose a potential image problem. Republican Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida and the son and brother of former presidents, also raised money in the Hamptons and on Nantucket in the past week.
Clinton must try to connect to different audiences simultaneously — rich, poor and in between — but often seems to lack her husband’s easy touch in doing so, said Meena Bose, a political science professor at Hofstra University, not far from the Hamptons enclave on Long Island.
“Her time spent in these Northeastern-liberal-elite summer places is really what needs to be done to mount a viable candidacy,” said Bose, director of Hofstra’s Center for the Study of the American Presidency.
At the same time, Bose said, “we are seeing how Bernie Sanders is appealing to some in the Democratic Party who seem to think she’s not able to make that kind of general public connection. If she’s not able to make that general public connection, she’s going to have a tough time getting the nomination.”