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Published: Wednesday, 1/6/2010

Clinton star speaker at local fund-raiser

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

In a 15-minute speech that some listeners said showcased his keen understanding of politics, former President Bill Clinton last night said Democrats have to pay special attention to the "disaffected independents and disillusioned progressives" to keep Democrats like Gov. Ted Strickland in office.

Mr. Clinton was the star of a fund-raiser held at the Carranor Hunt & Polo Club in Perrysburg, for which 132 tickets were issued. Tickets cost from $1,000 to $10,000.

The ex-president arrived about 5:10 p.m. and entered the front door of the club at 502 2nd St. He left a little more than an hour later with Mr. Strickland for a similar event at 7:30 p.m. in Youngstown.

The former president refused to meet with the media, and reporters were barred from the room where his speech was given, although the speech was somewhat audible in a corridor of the private club.

According to listeners, Mr. Clinton touched on the loss of millions of jobs, which he blamed on Republican trade policies and lack of regulatory oversight, and unrealistic expectations that President Obama could solve the economic crisis quickly.

He blamed the re-election defeat last November of former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine on the failure to appeal to progressives, or liberals, and independents.

Jerry Phillips, a Toledo lawyer, said Mr. Clinton quoted Mr. Obama on his GOP critics.

"The problem with Republicans is they're mad at us for not fixing their mess quickly enough," Mr. Phillips said Mr. Clinton said.

He quoted former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo that "you campaign in poetry and you govern in prose."

Mr. Clinton's wife, Hillary Clinton, won the Ohio primary in her bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, and Mr. Strickland campaigned for her. Mr. Clinton said his wife can't return the favor because, as President Obama's secretary of state, she cannot engage in partisan activity. "I'm the only one in my family who can do this," he said.

Jerry Chabler, who organized the fund-raiser, said 132 name tags were given out and more than $100,000 raised, but he would not be more specific.

Former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said Mr. Clinton's analysis of political dynamics was "brilliant." Mr. Finkbeiner said that as a former resident of Perrysburg he helped sell tickets because of the honor of having Mr. Clinton there, rather than Columbus, Cincinnati, or Cleveland.

Also on hand was Toledo's new mayor, Mike Bell, who spoke briefly during the introductions. With him were his mother and father, Norman and Ora Bell, date Karen Jarosz, and niece Shayla Bell.

Ben Konop, a Democratic Lucas County Commissioner, got Mr. Clinton's signature on a Nov. 4, 1992, edition of The Blade.

He said the speech was "more of a call to action to reach out to the disillusioned voters - independents who are looking for someone to blame and progressives who don't feel the Democratic agenda has gone far enough."

Mr. Clinton credited Mr. Strickland as the only governor who imposed a two-year freeze on college tuition, participants said.

State Rep. Peter Ujvagi (D., Toledo) said Mr. Clinton talked about the impact on Ohio of international trade policies. "He knew Ohio," Mr. Ujvagi said. "This wasn't a boilerplate speech."

The Ohio Republican Party said in a statement from Chairman Kevin DeWine: "It's ironic that Ted Strickland criticizes Wall Street for Ohio's economic problems but has no problem raising campaign cash with someone who's made a fortune from Wall Street firms. Bill Clinton received more than $2 million dollars from Wall Street banks that collapsed, filed for bankruptcy or took federal bailout funds, including $300,000 from Lehman Brothers. By Ted Strickland's shallow logic, Bill Clinton is personally responsible for the demise of Ohio's economy.

"Unless Bill Clinton has a plan to bring back the 330,000 jobs lost by the Strickland administration, this is just another political event that's keeping the governor from doing his job," the statement said.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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