- The Washington Times - Monday, October 7, 2002

The mailers sent recently from Erskine Bowles' Senate campaign to black North Carolina voters were similar to those that went to white voters, with one exception: A photo of Bill Clinton, once dubbed the nation's "first black president," graced the note to blacks.
Mr. Clinton's former chief of staff who is trailing Republican Elizabeth Dole in the polls has also run ads in the state's black newspapers featuring the former president, who left office in 2001 with an 87 percent approval rating among blacks.
Mr. Bowles' campaign spokeswoman did not return calls. A spokeswoman for Mrs. Dole declined to comment.
The former president's enduring good standing with black Democrats is at times in conflict with a tarnished reputation with more-conservative Democrats. But he has campaigned tirelessly for some candidates and has been used to mobilize the minority vote.
In April, he made a visit to Houston to raise money for a foundation created by his one-time Housing and Urban Development secretary, Henry Cisneros. The Every Texan Foundation was created to increase voter turnout in urban areas.
Mr. Clinton also appeared at the Apollo nightclub in Harlem in April, again to finance voter-registration drives in urban areas.
But even Democratic Party officials recognize that, in some cases, the clout of the scandal-plagued ex-president is no asset. North Carolina's voters rejected Mr. Clinton twice in presidential elections, backing the first President Bush in 1992 and Mrs. Dole's husband, Bob Dole, in 1996.
"There is no doubt that in areas where there are moderate Democratic voters, he is not welcome," said one national Democratic official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "In those areas using Bill Clinton would not be choosing the long straw."
Janet Reno, for example, rarely referred to her former boss during her failed campaign to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Florida this year.
Only on the last weekend before the Sept. 10 primary did she invoke the Clinton name in her get-out-the-vote calls.
Other Democrats said that Mr. Clinton is the strongest fund-raiser the party has.
"We've been using Bill Clinton for anything we can," said Maria Cardona, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee. Requests for Mr. Clinton come through her office daily, she said.
As far as tailoring the events to pull in the black vote, "African-American voters respond to him very well. But we don't try to get him only for those events. We try to get him for anything we can."
Mr. Clinton has kept a busy schedule in this midterm election year, flying from an event in Illinois for Sen. Richard J. Durbin on Sept. 4 to a fund-raiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin in Los Angeles on Sept. 5.
In July, Mr. Clinton headlined three fund-raisers: in Portland for the Oregon Democratic Party, in New York City for Texas Senate candidate Ron Kirk, and in Washington for Mr. Harkin, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu and the DSCC.
"He is everywhere," said DSCC spokeswoman Tovah Ravitz-Meehan. She acknowledged that some former members of the Clinton administration had been initially cautious about invoking the name of their former boss, even among black voters.


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