George W.'s ambassador
By Romesh Ratnesar
September 20, 1999
Web posted at: 3:49 p.m. EDT (1949 GMT)
Gregory Slayton, CEO of ClickAction Inc., is also running George
W. Bush's Silicon Valley campaign, and he's convened a group of
30 well-scrubbed executives for a breakfast at Scott's Seafood
Restaurant in Palo Alto. Slayton is decked out in a dark blue
suit and a SILICON VALLEY BUSH 2000 baseball cap. When he
laughs, he throws his head back and rolls his weight onto his
heels. He greets guests by simultaneously shaking their hands,
slapping their backs and bellowing,
"Buddyhowareyagoodtoseeyouman!" Watching him, it's easy to
forget that it is not yet 8 in the morning.
Republicans go to work early. This breakfast meeting is intended
to be "a brainstorming session," to prepare for a Sept. 30 Bush
fund raiser. "The goal for the event is substantial, but it's
doable," Slayton says. "The Governor is really relying on us."
While it's unusual to meet techies who can even name a
presidential candidate, it's rarer still to find people actively
campaigning for a Republican. But the Valley's new rich are
realizing their political clout, and Bush has gone after their
pocketbook issues, like tax cuts and tort reform. It's working:
though he has spent only two days in the Valley, Bush has raised
more than $2 million there.
Slayton is still new to the game. Reared as a Democrat, he
campaigned for Jimmy Carter in 1980 but lost interest in
politics once he got an M.B.A. from Harvard in 1990. After
saving a faltering software company, becoming a multimillionaire
and finding God, he joined the G.O.P. In 1997 he met the Bushes.
"I was always very enthusiastic about W.," he says. "I loved
what he's done in Texas, and his dad is a great man. But I had
no idea this was going to explode."
Slayton shares Bush's sunny, crowd-pleasing disposition.
Enthusiasm comes easy to him. Midway through the breakfast, when
Jack Oliver, Bush's national finance director, calls to tell the
group that the Governor won't be phoning in as promised, Slayton
reacts as if this is good news. "Thank you so much for calling
in, Jack. It's an honor to be part of the team. We're rocking out
here." At the end of the event, he's a whirlwind of handshakes
and high-fives. He is halfway out the door when he buttonholes an
attendee: "Kiddo! Do we have your wife on board for Silicon
Valley Bush 2000?" The man nods. "Excellent!"
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Cover Date: September 27, 1999