Democrats prepare to stage huge fund-raiser
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Just one month after the Republican National
Committee raised $21.3 million at a gala headlined by presidential hopeful
George W. Bush, the Democratic party is staging a huge fund-raiser of its own Wednesday night
The National Tribute to President Clinton will take place at the MCI
Center in downtown Washington. Headlined by the president and Vice President
Al Gore, the event will also feature entertainment from singers Stevie Wonder,
LeAnn Rimes, Lenny Kravitz, Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish, and
comedian Robin Williams.
Longtime Democratic party fund raiser Terry McAuliffe tells CNN the party
hopes to raise as much as $26 million at the event.
While the party is touting the event's populist flavor -- some 12,000
guests will spend $50 apiece to eat barbecue and hear the entertainment -- a
substantial number of big buck "soft money" donors will be treated to a private
dinner with the president and other perks.
Top ticket price for this group: $500,000 per person.
Democratic officials said the money raised at the event -- a combination
of both soft and hard dollars -- will be directed primarily toward a media
campaign aimed at promoting the goals of the party and telling the nation more
about Vice President Al Gore.
Senior officials of the Democratic National Committee and the Gore
campaign have been meeting to develop strategy for the eventual soft money
television advertising campaign.
While no firm decisions have been made, CNN is told the party is
eyeing about $25 million for the ad buy, which will probably start some time
this summer. But party officials insist no firm timetable has been set, nor
has the content of the ads been firmed up. Officials are weighing the relative
merits of biographical spots on Al Gore, and harder spots that criticize Bush.
Republicans are readying their own soft money campaign which they say
will offer both biographical information on Bush in states where he is less
known, plus ads that criticize or mock Gore.
Both sides insist they will wait until the other side goes on the air
with soft money ads before starting their own ad campaign. but Democrats also
say they believe the GOP has already launched the first strike, with ads
targetting Hispanic voters in California and others paid for by outside groups
(called "527s") supporting Bush.