Clinton lent his name to a fund-raising appeal mailed to Democratic supporters earlier this year, but other than that he has stayed out of the money-gathering business. But on Wednesday, Clinton will be the featured guest at a "thank you" dinner in Chicago for donors of $50,000 or more. There will be a similar event in San Francisco the following week and, at the end of July, a Florida dinner that will be a full-fledged fund-raiser.
"We're happy to have him on board," Democratic National Committee press secretary Jenny Backus said. Those attending the thank-you dinners, Backus said, are "longtime donors who are Clinton's friends; people who give us money every year; people that understand and appreciate him."
One Democratic official said the thank-you dinners were designed in large part to soothe donors angered by the outcome of the 2000 election and unhappy at what they perceived as inadequate thanks for their contributions.
"People are mad. They didn't feel like they were thanked. There was a lot of bad taste in the mouths of the high donors--all the big-time [Al] Gore donors were mad about how the thing was run," the official said. "There were a million reasons why they all needed to be listened to. The idea was, let's go around and thank people for being longtime Democrats before actually fund-raising."
But not all Democratic activists were so pleased at Clinton's return. "It's nice that President Clinton agreed to do something for the party, but it's probably not what the party needs," one Democratic fund-raiser said. "The party needs to move on."