BEVERLY HILLS — Bill Clinton may have spoken at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night, but at a Paul Ryan fundraiser Thursday in a town that’s a favorite venue for Democratic fundraising, he was the man who was mentioned the most.
And despite the former president’s scathing comments about the GOP vice presidential candidate in his speech in Charlotte, Ryan simultaneously praised Clinton and hit on President Obama.
“What’s happened over the past four years was not a Bill Clinton Democrat,” Ryan said referring to Obama. “Bill Clinton gave us welfare reform, Bill Clinton worked with Republicans to cut spending and to get a good budget agreement in place. Bill Clinton’s commission gave us Medicare reform that we are proposing right now. We don’t have a Bill Clinton Democrat. We have someone who went far to the left so it’s a different kind of approach or philosophy of the role and goal of government.”
On Wednesday night, Clinton had this to say about Ryan:
“When Congressman Ryan looked into the TV camera and attacked President Obama’s Medicare savings as the ‘biggest, coldest power play,’ I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry,” Clinton said. “Because, that $716 billion is exactly, to the dollar, the same amount of Medicare savings that he had in his own budget.”
Clinton added: “You got to (admit) one thing — it takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.”
It wasn’t just Paul Ryan who mentioned Clinton, and the praise was hardly uniform. Former California governor Pete Wilson was also on hand and asked the crowd of about 200 people if they had “watched that little show last night? The return of Bill Clinton?”
“You know, all through that … all I can think of was the last time I seen him shaking his finger,” Wilson said, referring to the Monica Lewinsky scandal. “‘I did not have sex with that woman.’ I figured that anyone who can redefine sex as he did in that moment is fully capable of redefining economics, which he tried to do last night.”
It was far from the only colorful remark Wilson made at the fundraiser at the posh Montage Hotel, where attendees paid $2,500 to attend and couples who wanted a photograph with the House Budget Chairman paid $10,000. A private dinner for 100 attendees was a $25,000 donation per couple. Wilson brought up Ryan’s direct opponent Joe Biden, who along with Obama, was set to address the DNC the same evening.
“We all believe in fairness and there’s one problem,” Wilson said. “Paul is going to be debating Joe Biden. And friends, that’s just not fair. That’s not a fair fight. You’ve got: an aging lightweight against a youthful heavyweight. … God, sometimes I think he must be a Republican: He gave us Joe Biden, who is good for at least one gaffe a day. How would you like to be his keeper? You’d need a year’s worth of valium.”
The candidate also clearly described what kind of victory his ticket wants, for the first time saying they “want a victory that like Ronald Reagan when he replaced Jimmy Carter, it is morning in America again” and the country will then get its “mojo back.”
“The worst thing that could happen is President Obama gets reelected, we get four more years of the same, and we end up with a welfare state and a debt crisis,” Ryan told the donors. “The second worst thing that could happen is we have a lonely victory where we win by default without the kind of mandate we need to get his country back on track. What we are trying to do here is win by acclimation.”
The fundraiser close to Hollywood had at least one star on hand: Lori Loughlin, who starred in the 1990s sitcom “Full House,” was in attendance and it was another high dollar event for the campaign. National Finance Chairman Spencer Zwick came out at the beginning with some news for the group.
“We now have more cash on hand and we will have the resources to go the distance,” Zwick said.
The Romney campaign has not released last month’s fundraising numbers yet.