- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Pulsing lights, throbbing hip-hop music and Bill Clinton are on tap next week for a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser at a Washington nightclub designed to transform young professionals into political donors.

DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe described the fund-raiser at Dream, one of the hottest nightclubs in the District, as a way to “connect with young people, bringing together entertainers and one of the most popular figures among Democratic activists — President Clinton.”

“If Democrats are going to be successful in reaching out to young people, we’re going to have to take the party to them — where they work and where they play,” Mr. McAuliffe said.

Young Democrats, not typical attendees at $1,000-a-plate dinner speeches, will be charged $50 for admission, with requests to give as much as $500 for “VIP tickets,” according to the DC Social Insider Web site.

The Oct. 27 event will include an open bar, full dinner, members of the Washington Redskins, a percentage of the “more than 50 celebrities” invited to the fund-raiser, and Mr. Clinton, whom “everyone will have an opportunity to see.” Hip-hop acts Ginuwine and Big Boi of Outkast along with actor and comedian Chris Tucker also are expected to appear.

The enormous four-story nightclub at 1350 Okie St. NE in the New York Avenue warehouse district opened in November 2001 with a jacuzzi, two large showers and bedrooms in the posh VIP lounges.

Republicans questioned the appropriateness of such a venue for a fund-raiser headlined by the former president.

“You know why [Mr. Clintons] coming, to meet girls,” joked Republican consultant Craig Shirley.

A staffer at Dream said yesterday that the jacuzzi and the bedroom have been removed since the club’s opening, but “a bed can be brought in by request.”

“It’s a little ‘Hollywoodesque,’ and Hollywoodesque is not in our stock and trade,” said former Republican National Committee Chairman Rich Bond. “The whole concept of having a fund-raiser until 3 a.m., it’s so them.”

DNC spokesman Tony Welch pointed out that Republican Florida Gov. Jeb Bush once held a fund-raiser at a nightclub and derided the Republican snickers as sour grapes.

“The response has been phenomenal,” Mr. Welch said, noting that 2,000 people already have purchased tickets. “If [the fund-raiser] doesn’t feel different, you’re probably not reaching out to young people. If it’s the same old rally, you’re probably going to miss them.”

Mr. Clinton is the Democrats’ most requested fund-raiser, credited with bringing in millions in the 2002 elections. But when the former president hit the campaign trail on behalf of Democrats, the results were mixed.

In 2002, Mr. Clinton stumped for Democratic gubernatorial candidates in 17 states — nine of whom lost. Among the losses were high-profile candidates in Maryland — Kathleen Kennedy Townsend — and in Florida, which Mr. McAuliffe had turned into a payback rematch of the narrow Bush presidential victory in 2000.

Mr. Clinton offered advice during last year’s Senate race in Minnesota, but former Vice President Walter Mondale was unable to keep a Democrat in the seat held by liberal icon Sen. Paul Wellstone after his tragic death in a plane crash shortly before Election Day.

Mr. Clinton also traveled to California in an attempt to thwart the recall of Gov. Gray Davis, who was ousted by 55 percent of voters in favor of Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“For Democratic candidates, [Mr. Clinton] is the equivalent of kryptonite,” Mr. Shirley said, referring to the fictional substance that renders Superman powerless. “He stands next to them, and they die.”

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