Washington Prowler

One for the Price of Two

Bill Clinton's latest pitch to Kerry. Plus: Kerry sees stars.

By 3.31.04

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MR. INDISPENSABLE
Perhaps feeling the need to rekindle nostalgia for the good 'ole days of 1992, when Bill Clinton joked that voting for him was a "two-fer" since America would also get his wife, Hillary, in the White House, Clinton appears to be using his own persona to jump-start Hillary's veepstakes.

A New York Daily News gossip column on Wednesday put forward the notion that Sen. John Kerry might seriously be looking at announcing his vice president as early as next month, and perhaps would unveil his Cabinet at the Democratic Convention. The star of that group? Former President Clinton as Secretary of State … if the Constitution allowed it.

"The former president has made it clear he will do anything to help the Democrats retake the White House and get America back on course," says a former Clinton White House staffer. "That said, this is probably the former President's attempt to get Kerry to focus on Hillary as the vice presidential nominee. By stoking the P.R. machine he's saying, 'You get her on the ticket, then you have me.'"

The ex-prez Clinton is said to desperately want back in on the goings-on in the Middle East, and while Secretary of State is no doubt a nonstarter, special envoy to the Middle East could be the plum dangled by Kerry.

Few of Clinton's former supporters doubt that Clinton isn't behind the rumblings of a more politically active former president in a Kerry administration. "After the unity dinner in Washington last week, where he was getting all that adulation, and everyone was saying that John Kerry was no Bill Clinton, do you really think Clinton could help himself?" says a DNC staffer. "His presence in this campaign is going to remind everyone of what Kerry isn't, and Kerry's people are worried about it. But what can they do? They need him for fundraising and mobilizing the base."

ARE THE STARS OUT TONIGHT?
John Kerry probably slept a bit better on the red-eye flight home to Boston on Tuesday night after netting close to $6 million in campaign funds from events in Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, and Beverly Hills.

It is unclear whether that total includes the $1 million or so that will go to the DNC for its role in the events.

While the San Francisco event pulled in close to $2 million, the two high-wattage events were in San Diego and L.A., where supermarket magnate Ron Burkle opened two of his homes for Kerry cash-a-thons.

The menus at both events were decidedly California chic, with lots of pan-Asian fare and Mediterranean touches: glazed salmon, tandoori lamb chops, curried chicken, hors d'ouevres, vegan salads, and lots and lots of Chardonnay. And, in Beverly Hills, lots of celebrities.

Kerry wandered the grounds of Burkle's estate, shaking hands with most of the celebs in attendance, seeming at ease with the fact that almost all of them had contributed the maximum to either Howard Dean or Wesley Clark before jumping on his bandwagon after the fact. In Hollywood, after all, only the happy ending matters.

"It was like a lot of the Clinton and Gore parties. You had Oliver Stone [conspiracy theorist] there, Don Henley [musician], Barbra Streisand [blogger], and Mary Steenburgen [Arkansas FOB], all the usuals," says a DNC fundraiser. "In the end these folks don't care who the nominee is, just so long as it's not Bush in the White House."

They also, apparently, have little interest in anything more current than the 1970s. Along with the list of has-beens in attendance, they listened to the soulful strummings of Clinton-fave crooner James Taylor, who seems to have found currency for one of his songs: after performing "Carolina on My Mind" he told the audience that it had little to do with Sen. John Edwards.

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