Time may heal all wounds, but in politics, the saying often ought to be “Money heals all wounds.”
On Friday, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, who led their opposing parties in the White House for the past 16 years, will appear together in Toronto for what is being billed a “conversation.”
No one will say how much each will take home, but estimates run as high as $150,000 apiece for the two-hour appearance. Just to be one of the 6,000 people inside the city’s convention center costs $250, with VIP tickets at $625 and the sold-out “emerald” section seating going for $2,500. Front-row ticket holders also get a photo with the two ex-presidents.
The event will be only the second public appearance by Mr. Bush since leaving office; his first was also in Canada, in Calgary. Mr. Clinton, meanwhile, is an old hand on the speakers’ circuit, hauling in a reported $31 million in speech fees from 2001 to 2005.
Friday’s event is being put on by “The Power Within,” which produces “full-day inspirational, motivational and entertaining events with the power to ignite your spirit!” as its Web site, www.powerwithin.com, proclaims exuberantly. The Toronto-based company is affiliated with self-help guru Tony Robbins, “the nation’s foremost authority on the psychology of peak performance.”
No one will divulge details about how the joint appearance came about. Rob Saliterman, Mr. Bush’s spokesman, said only that “the event organizers proposed the idea for the event to the former presidents, and they agreed to it.”
Mr. Clinton’s handlers didn’t return calls seeking comment.
But the two baby boomers - born just six weeks apart in 1946 - suddenly are far more alike than different. They are members not only of the exclusive former presidents’ club, but also of a subset within it - two-termers. Unlike former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, the two served eight years, living through the sensational highs and disastrous lows the office brings.
Although Mr. Bush centered his 2000 campaign on restoring “honor and dignity” to the Oval Office - a direct slap at Mr. Clinton’s ethical troubles while in office - he tapped his Democratic predecessor for help later in his presidency.
“Presidents Bush and Clinton developed a good relationship over the years, and Bush called upon Clinton to help with some of our biggest crises - helping raise awareness and funds for the tsunami and then Hurricane Katrina victims,” said Dana Perino, last White House press secretary to Mr. Bush.
In January 2005, Mr. Bush named his father and Mr. Clinton to head up private fundraising efforts to help nations devastated by the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The two bonded, despite the fact that Mr. Clinton portrayed the elder Mr. Bush as out of touch during their 1992 presidential contest.
Mr. Bush the younger, who had been bitter about that election, had actually started to warm toward Mr. Clinton months earlier. In June 2004, he unveiled official portraits of Mr. Clinton and his wife, Hillary, at the White House.
“The years have done a lot to clarify the strengths of this man,” said Mr. Bush, calling his predecessor a man with “a deep and far-ranging knowledge of public policy, a great compassion for people in need, and the forward-looking spirit that Americans like in a president.”
Mr. Clinton returned the favor at the ceremony.
“The president, by his generous words to Hillary and me today, has proved once again that in the end, we are held together by this grand system of ours that permits us to debate and struggle and fight for what we believe is right,” he said.View Entire Story
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