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White House: Clinton Made Mistake Over Coffee -- Feb. 5, 1997

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More Troubles Besides Lake For White House

By Wolf Blitzer/CNN

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But critics claim the president is also taking a low road. Sources close to GOP Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee say he is worried the White House is trying to limit his hearings into fund-raising and coordinating with Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle -- something Daschle denies. "I don't see my role necessarily to defend the president as much as to see that he gets a fair hearing," Daschle said.

daschle

And Thompson says he and Daschle met Monday night to tone down the partisan sniping. "I think we all share the same general goal, and that is to do a responsible job," Thompson said.

Still, having the president push reform diverts attention from his money-raising headaches.

The latest is from The Boston Globe. Former Democratic National Chairman Don Fowler acknowledged that immediately after those controversial White House coffees with Clinton, the DNC routinely hit up participants for donations.

Thompson

The White House confirmed the blunt admission. "I think the president would wonder why he was doing all those coffees if they hadn't had some follow-up," said Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry.

That's not how Clinton described the meetings last month. "I think the president should keep in touch with people," said Clinton during a Jan. 28 White House news conference. "I think he should listen to people. I never learn very much when I'm talking, and I normally learn something when I'm listening so I think that they're good."

How good were those coffees, exactly? The Globe quotes Fowler as saying that the 358 individuals or companies represented contributed $27 million to the Democrats in 1995 and 1996.

Ann McBride, president of Common Cause, said: "What you have is the White House coffees being part of a very sophisticated fund-raising scheme that frankly smacks of putting the presidency on the auction block."

To counter that impression, the president has assigned his senior policy adviser, Rahm Emanuel, to coordinate the White House push for campaign reform. He knows the subject well; he was Clinton's chief fund-raiser in the 1992 campaign.


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