COLUMNS

President Clinton — And Expensive Best Friend

  • Capital Connections ®
  • |
  • November 17, 1999

by Karen Feld

We won’t have Bill Clinton to kick around anymore after the 2000 elections, but he confided to a close friend over a private dinner in the residence last week that he wishes he could run for re-election again. Oh darn, that term limit restriction is in the way!

So he’ll get involved with his Presidential Library and is looking to distant hot spots to establish his legacy. Kosovo is next, the last stop on his ten-day trip to Turkey, Greece, Italy and Bulgaria. What’s next? Perhaps he can rescue the Good Friday accord in Ireland and negotiate an expedited settlement in Chechnya.

President Clinton is very supportive of his wife’s New York Senate race, say friends, and is behind her run for the White House in 2004 should the Republicans win it back in 2000. Mrs. Clinton is expected to raise $25 million by the end of the year and plans to announce in January that she’ll officially announce in February.

Washington insiders, who know and like the “old” Al Gore, are leery of his new “alpha dog” image à la feminist Naomi Wolf. Former Clinton adviser Dick Morris had unsuccessfully urged Bill Clinton to heed her advice in his first presidential campaign. And now, longtime Al Gore watchers hope he’ll be “himself” rather than trying to be too “hip.”

And one more incestuous Washington connection. . . Former Congressman and investment banker Tony Coelho, now General Chairman of the Gore 2000 campaign, was best man in First Friend Terry McAuliffe’s wedding. Last week Hillary Clinton gave a tea for McAuliffe’s week-old baby, who made a first visit to the Oval Office in The President’s arms. McAuliffe plays golf regularly with President Clinton and had agreed to guarantee the mortgage for the Clintons’ home in New York. Actually, McAuliffe, 42, was golfing with the President when he got a call from Deputy White House Counsel Bruce Lindsey, saying that everyone else had backed out of the house deal: Clinton childhood friend Mack McLarty because he was ready to sign-on as Henry Kissinger’s partner and Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles because “he’s not a stand-up guy.” So McAuliffe agreed to put up the $1.35 million collateral for the house. He knew it was temporary, and had planned to pull out, but it was the only way the Clintons could sign the deal. And after all, the Secret Service liked the home. McAuliffe is now laughing off the eight lawsuits he’s defending because of his kindness, including one from Judicial Watch’s Larry Klayman. But he did say, “The President is one expensive best friend.”

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