- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 29, 2002

There are more every day, it seems Clinton administration alumni looking for another term in the political spotlight. No less than a dozen Democrats from the former president's White House are running for office this year.
They seek keys to governor's mansions, Senate offices and even some state legislator spots.
"It is really part of the influence of the presidency," said Paul Begala, a former Clinton aide. "Republican or Democrat, they look back and say 'I was part of something larger than myself.' They want to see those ideas live on."
Mr. Clinton and Ronald Reagan, he said, were similar in terms of party influence, each changing ideologies permanently. While Mr. Reagan defined a more conservative Republicanism, Mr. Clinton inspired a more moderate Democratic Party, Mr. Begala said.
"What matters is if the president was a transformational figure. Reagan was; Clinton was."
The new batch of Clintonites are drawn by a "sense of unfinished business," said Mike McCurry, former White House press secretary. He dismissed the idea of political players left out in the cold by a new guard seeking power.
Theirs is a quest born of altruism, Mr. McCurry said.
"This is no blood lust for power," said Mr. McCurry, who is now CEO of grassroots.com, a business management firm. "You don't just do this because of the thrill of it. It is demanding. And these are people who saw they could make a difference."
The coattails of Mr. Clinton are long enough to run on in some circles.
Six Clinton alumni are running for governor in 2002: Janet Reno in Florida, Bill Richardson in New Mexico, Jim Blanchard in Michigan, Andrew Cuomo in New York, Robert Reich in Massachusetts and Bill Curry in Connecticut.
At least two are making bids for the Senate: Erskine Bowles in North Carolina and Gloria Tristani in New Mexico.
Mr. Clinton's ability to bend politically has spawned a strategy that the new wave of candidates will uphold, noted one veteran politico. "Trimming is what he was able to do," said Peter W. Schramm, a former Reagan appointee and executive director of the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs.
When Republican lawmakers needed some give from the former president, he could acquiesce and temper his liberal tendencies. "When he was beaten politically, that's what he did. He could pull back from the extreme. And some of these people running will win, having understood that ability."
In that way, Mr. Clinton may have inadvertently fostered a centrist Democrat, which may very well be his legacy although hardly the one the former president has sought. "This would be it," Mr. Schramm said. "A moderate Democrat."
These Clinton administration offspring will also carry a defining characteristic of the old Democrat, however: the proverbial bleeding heart, Mr. Shramm noted.
"Democrats have always talked of representing the oppressed," Mr. Schramm said. "This is now manifested in the multicutural, the diversity ideology."
Which is why many of those hailing from the last administration are speaking to groups like the NAACP and NOW, as Miss Reno has done already. Mr. Reich is courting college students on his Web site, informing the traditionally liberal bloc that they can vote in the fall. "As long as you plan to reside in Massachusetts for six months in 2002, you are a resident," the site says.
While the Democrats look for a home, Mr. McCurry said his foray into the private sector has been a sobering experience.
"Running a business is a lot harder than running your mouth for a living," he said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide