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Clinton headlines $1,000-per-person fundraiser for Whitehouse, R.I. Democrats

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The man from Hope, Arkansas, spoke Monday night about the Democratic Party’s hopes for this year’s general election at the Hope Awards in downtown Providence.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke in the ballroom of the Rhode Island Convention Center to a crowd of over 1,000 for the annual event, which was sponsored by the Rhode Island Democratic Party to recognize Democratic politicians’ service to the state and drum up support for the party’s candidates in state and federal races in the upcoming election.

Clinton spoke to the audience about what he considers the follies of the Bush administration’s ideology and misguided policies.

“(We need to) go back to evidence, reason and argument – to get away from blind assertions and attack, attack, attack,” Clinton said in his keynote address.

Clinton highlighted the fact that the United States is borrowing heavily from countries such as China, Japan and Mexico while concurrently giving tax breaks for the 5,000 wealthiest Americans.

“It is the charge (against the current Republican administration) that we borrow money from poor Mexicans to pay my tax cut,” Clinton said. He suggested Mexico’s money would be better spent on its own citizens’ education.

Before touching down in Providence, Clinton stopped briefly in Boston to campaign for his former aide and current Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick.

Clinton then arrived in Providence for the Hope Awards and to support Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse’s Senate campaign against Republican incumbent Sen. Lincoln Chafee ’75. Whitehouse was Clinton’s appointee to serve as U. S. attorney in 1994.

Clinton was the guest of honor at a Whitehouse fundraiser in June at the University Club of the University of Rhode Island.

Julia Pell, a gay rights activist and daughter of former Sen. Claiborne Pell, D-R.I., and Jack McConnell, a public consumer advocate, were also honored at the $1,000-per-ticket dinner to raise money for the Rhode Island Democratic Party.

Clinton said voters are particularly involved in the political process this year, echoing the message delivered by Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., when he spoke on campus last week.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Clinton said. “I first ran for office when I was a 26-year-old law professor. I have never seen the American people so eager to talk with us.”

Clinton said Republican and Independent voters have recently been attracted to the Democratic Party in record numbers. He talked about James Webb, the Democratic nominee in Virginia’s Senate race, who was secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration.

“The Democratic Party has become both the liberal and conservative party in the country,” Clinton said. “If you want to conserve our natural resources, you have to be with us.”

Clinton said the key to changing the direction of the country is to change the leadership in Washington, D.C., starting with Congress.

“Now, at this moment, (Whitehouse) is the agent of America’s historic opportunity to reclaim its fundamental promise and prosperity,” Clinton said.

Brown was well-represented at the off-campus event.

Tor Tarantola ’08, president of the Brown Democrats, and Craig Auster ’08, the Dems’ vice president, joined former Dems’ President Michaela Labriole ’07 and other members of the group at one table. Xaykham Khamsyvoravong ’06 GS, the campaign manager for General Treasurer of Rhode Island Frank Caprio, and Steve Peoples GS, a reporter for Projo.com, were also in attendance.

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