Capitol Alert

Campaign really wanted Hillary Clinton at Ro Khanna’s wedding in Cleveland

Ro Khanna, center, and then-girlfriend Ritu Ahuja, right, greet supporters at the Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, Calif., on June 3, 2014.
Ro Khanna, center, and then-girlfriend Ritu Ahuja, right, greet supporters at the Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, Calif., on June 3, 2014. AP

Ro Khanna, in a same-party rematch with Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, was preparing to wed his bride, Ritu Ahuja, in Cleveland, when a campaign aide put forwarded an “intriguing idea ... that may be win-win.”

In an Aug. 12, 2015 email, since hacked and posted to WikiLeaks, Khanna adviser Steve Spinner reached out to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to see if she might be willing to briefly drop by the festivities.

“Ritu’s father, Monte Ahuja, is a very prominent businessperson and philanthropist,” Spinner wrote to Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta. “He happens to be a Republican, and Sen. Rob Portman, his friend, is coming...”

Spinner, having done some research, added, “Secretary Clinton happens to be in Cleveland on August 27th for a fundraiser. I wonder if it would be possible for her to stop by the event for 10 minutes...”

Podesta did not reply, according to the posted correspondence, but Spinner had several reasons why Clinton should have considered the invite, including sending an “incredible signal to the Indian American diaspora, and even the tech community, of her being supportive of the future.”

As for the optics, Spinner wrote that Clinton need not worry about offending Honda, a fellow Democrat and stalwart of key party allies, including labor unions. “She risks no blowback,” Spinner wrote.

“Honda’s folks would be very petty to criticize Secretary Clinton for wishing a couple on their marriage, particularly given it will be a beautiful ethnic ceremony.”

Spinner did not not return a recent message from The Sacramento Bee, and the campaign did not reply to a voice mail.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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