Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008 | 2 a.m.
The presidential campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton racked up big bills at some of the Strip’s finest hotels, according to recent campaign finance disclosure reports.
The tabs at such hotels as the Bellagio and the Four Seasons aren’t meaningless: Clinton faces an emerging financial disadvantage against her rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, in the run-up to must-win contests in Ohio and Texas.
The gap came to bear in Wisconsin, where Obama outspent Clinton by a ratio of 5-to-1 on TV advertising in Tuesday’s primary and won by 17 percentage points.
The Clinton campaign spent at least $264,133 in Nevada during January, 47 percent of which went for travel and lodging.
Among Clinton’s bigger Strip tabs:
• Planet Hollywood: $45,387, plus $9,963 for “Internet service” at the hotel.
• Bellagio: $25,479;
• New York-New York: $12,240;
• Circus Circus: $10,503;
• Tropicana: $8,685;
• Four Seasons: $5,183.
The Obama campaign spent $2,116 on Nevada travel and lodging in January, though for the fourth quarter it spent nearly $40,000, with big bills from the Monte Carlo and Wynn Las Vegas.
On all expenses, the two campaigns spent roughly the same during January, with Obama making up for smaller hotel bills with $111,749 on payroll and $87,653 on printing, which dwarfed Clinton’s totals in those areas. (One Democrat reported receiving an Obama mail piece on caucus day, which would seem to be wasteful.)
The totals reported for Nevada are likely lower than actual totals because of unknown money spent on out-of-state vendors, as well as Nevada staff with out-of-state addresses.
Jennifer Duffy, an analyst for the Cook Political Report, said the Clinton campaign’s extravagances have added up.
“It’s clear this is a campaign with enormous discipline, except on the spending side,” she said. The Iowa caucus campaign set off alarm bells, she said, when Clinton and her husband, the former president, flew around in a private jet, with the media in a chartered plane flying behind them. By flying with the media, they could have cut costs considerably.
Also, Duffy noted, the Clinton campaign didn’t seem to plan on the race continuing past Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, while the Obama team planned for the long haul.
David Cohen, Obama’s Nevada state director, said out-of-state volunteers and staff stayed with Nevada supporters, who were asked early last year if they had spare bedrooms and would be willing to house staff and volunteers.
The Clinton campaign hadn’t responded late Friday to requests for an interview.