The spotlight may be set to shine on Al Gore, but for now he finds himself in the Clintons’ shadow. Read about the first couple’s star-studded L.A.fundraiser.
Aug. 13 — The first couple has gotten a jump on Al Gore’s Democratic National Convention, attending a $10 million brunch today benefitting President Clinton’s future library following a star-studded Hollywood fund-raiser Saturday night for first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s New York Senate campaign. The event, hosted by comic book publisher Stan Lee at the Los Angeles estate of businessman Kenneth Roberts, featured a chart-topping line-up of singing stars including Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Michael Bolton, Cher, Toni Braxton, and Melissa Etheridge.
About 1,000 guests sat on specially made directors chairs labeled “Hollywood Tribute to William Jefferson Clinton” on a hillside lawn overlooking the city. Guests paid $1,000 each to attend the concert; about 300 couples paid $25,000 to attend a dinner afterward with Clinton.
In between the tribute speakers and performers, guests were shown snippets of a re-edited Man From Hope video on Clinton that was featured at the 1992 Democratic nominating convention. The updated version intercut new interviews with Clinton in which the president reflected on his early childhood and his start in politics.
“I was looking at those movies up there … and I was thinking how quickly it all passed and what an absolute joy it was,” Clinton said after viewing the video. “Every day, even the bad ones, were good ones.”
A host of speakers included Red Buttons, Shirley MacLaine, Jimmy Smits, Whoopi Goldberg and Rosa Parks. For good measure, the president’s speech came with warm-up remarks from actor John Travolta.
“You ignite in others things that we have not resolved in ourselves,” MacLaine said. “I thank you for that. You are a mirror for all of us.”
“You kicked (butt),” Goldberg said, “and even when they tried to kick yours back you stood up and you never faltered.”
Democratic officials say the event will bring in at least $1 million for his wife’s campaign.
This morning, the president plans to attend a brunch at Barbra Streisand’s residence that is expected to raise millions for his presidential library.
Stealing Gore’s Thunder?
The entertainment industry has given significant support to the Democrats in recent years. But the high-profile events come after a week in which some Democrats expressed concern that the Clintons’s high profile was in Los Angeles could steal attention away from Vice President Al Gore, who is looking to use the convention to reintroduce himself to the nation.
In an attempt to keep a lower media profile this week, Clinton has canceled all the interviews he had scheduled this week — even an online Web cast — and instead spent the morning golfing with Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a Republican, and Democratic National Convention chairman Terry McAuliffe, Clinton’s main fund-raiser for the past several years.
But Mrs. Clinton, in a close battle against Rep. Rick Lazio in New York, appeared on NBC’s Tonight Show on Friday, playfully asking host Jay Leno, “What are you going to talk about when we’re gone?”
Gore Emphasizes ‘Own Agenda’
In an interview published in today’s New York Times, Gore dismisses the notion, raised by some Democrats this week, that the presence of the Clintons is preventing him from establishing a distinct identity for his own campaign.