Washington Prowler

Classic Clinton

Whose advice was Bush heeding on Africa? Plus: Carol and the Six-Pack.

By 2.11.03

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STILL THE ONE
Ex-Prez Bill Clinton had people scratching their heads in Boston the other night when he spoke before the 10th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, one of the most prestigious gatherings of researchers specializing in AIDS.

The speech had been long planned, but Clinton used the address to sidestep one controversy while creating a new one. At one point, in discussing the Bush Administration's decision to target $15 billion in funds to contain and defeat AIDS in Africa, Clinton said he was "very grateful for that."

"It was like he had asked Bush to do it, or had proposed the plan, that's how it sounded to us," says an attendee, who works at NIH. "He led right into what his foundation was doing elsewhere, and how this money was going to help him achieve his own goals. He did give Bush his props, but made sure everyone realized that Bush couldn't have done this if he hadn't taken the lead. It was classic Clinton."

Clinton's insistence on taking credit for budgeting the $15 billion he really had nothing to do with comes on the heals of an embarrassing -- for him -- moment at a New York fundraiser ten days ago, when Buddhist AIDS activist and actor Richard Gere lambasted Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's husband for doing nothing in the fight against AIDS in his eight years in the White House.

A-CAROLING WE WON'T GO
Ex-Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun can't be happy about the slotting of speakers at the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting in Washington, D.C. next week. As it stands, the so-called six pack of Sens. John Kerry, John Edwards, and Joe Lieberman and Rep. Dick Gephardt, former Vermont Gov. Howie Dean and Al Sharpton all have speaking slots on the February 21-22 schedule. Braun as yet does not, despite having been promised a prominent place on the two-day program.

(As of Tuesday evening, after news broke that Kerry will undergo prostate surgery today, his staff had not withdrawn his name from the DNC event.)

Braun, you'll recall, is mulling a presidential run, and has already visited Iowa on a campaign swing to get the lay of the land. She's met twice with DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, who had promised her slot at the winter meetings as part of a brokered deal to persuade her not to run again for the Senate seat she lost six years ago to Sen. Peter Fitzgerald.

According to the current lineup, Lieberman, Gephardt and Dean open the conference and Kerry, Edwards and Sharpton speak the following day. A DNC source said the agenda for the two-day soiree had yet to be firmed up and that "Moseley Braun is supposed to speak, but it isn't clear her speech would coincide with other presidential candidates. All the others speaking are announced candidates. She's still exploring her options."

According to another DNC staffer, aides to Edwards were unhappy to learn their man would be speaking on the same day as Kerry: "They didn't want him speaking with the frontrunner, and then having to deal with Sharpton, who will probably put on a pretty good show. He really wanted the Lieberman, Gephardt day."

Edwards' concern is that many of the attendees at the DNC meeting are delegates for the national convention which will be held in Boston. This is the first chance a presidential hopeful has impress uncommitted party ground troops leading into the primary season. Kerry would be expected to get the bulk of the attention from the media, and Sharpton's speaking style is wildly different from any of the other speakers. Edwards' people are concerned their man will get lost in the shuffle.

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