Washington Prowler

Clinton to the Rescue

The DNC plays viral games with Bill's appeal.

By 10.25.02

Talk about getting a virus in your e-mail. Desperate to draw in small, dedicated donors to its rolls, the Democratic National Committee is putting out an e-mail appeal with a beatific visage of Bill Clinton as its central image. "The slim margin of the Democratic majority in the Senate means that every one of the 34 seats at stake has enormous significance," the party's website tells potential donors who link to it from the DNC e-mail. "The time is now. We need you now. We cannot win without you. Please be generous and give today. And make sure you cast your vote on November 5th for Democratic candidates. You have the power to put the country back on the right track with your vote and your gift to the Democratic Party."

It's unclear if "gift to the Democratic Party" refers to the cash or Clinton's opinion of himself. While the cash is what the DNC needs immediately, the web-based appeal is viewed as key to chairman Terry McAuliffe's plans for the DNC over the next two years. The party has become so soft-money oriented, there is real concern inside the DNC that it doesn't have enough individual, hard money donors in place to compete against the Republicans, who have plenty of individual donors.

"We expect that we'll be able to raise some money off the Clinton appeal, but more important, we're going to have new names of new donors to turn to next year and the year after. We have to build up that donor list," says a DNC fundraiser.

There was internal debate inside the DNC about whether it should put Clinton front and center on what amounts to the DNC's last big fundraising push before the November elections. But in the end, just as Clinton was a fundraising boon for Republicans, Democratic Party officials couldn't deny the lure of Clinton to devoted grassroots supporters.

The Clinton e-mail comes on the heels of a conference call McAuliffe, Sen. Tom Daschle and Rep. Dick Gephardt made to soft money donors earlier this week. The three men placed more than 50 calls together, hooked up via speaker phones. The target was to pull in more than $5 million. The take, less than $3 million.

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