Business Places Its Bet for 2008…on Hillary Clinton

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Just ahead of the 6/30 deadline for fundraising reports, FORTUNE Washington Bureau Chief Nina Easton gives us this behind-the-scenes look at the scramble for endorsements and contributions from business executives. “What’s different this time,” she writes, “is that CEOs are up for grabs on both sides.” The reason: “long-held alliances shifting under the weight of an unpopular President, an unpopular war and no obvious White House heir on either side.” All of the candidates are working the corporate chieftains hard, of course, but Easton finds:

Even at this early stage of the primary race, the business endorsements of Clinton alone rival – in size, scope, and prestige the list of CEOs publicly supporting the Kerry – Edwards ticket in the 2004 general election. The more than 150 top executives who have raised money for Clinton represent such brand names as Anheuser-Busch, Comcast, Estée Lauder, Palm, Sun Microsystems, and Qualcomm. Venture capitalist James D. Robinson III, the former CEO of American Express and a longtime Republican, told Fortune he now supports Clinton for President, citing her “breadth of experience, especially on the international level, which is critical for going forward.”