Bill Clinton pitches in on his wife's campaign

Michael McAuliff
New York Daily News

WASHINGTON - There's one thing that's been missing from Sen. Hillary Clinton's 2008 rollout - her would-be White House spouse, Bill Clinton.

But the New York Daily News has learned that will soon change, with plans for a mega-fund-raiser next month where top backers will be asked to raise $250,000 apiece.

So far, Bill has stayed out of sight in the campaign, "doing about anything you can imagine in terms of behind-the-scenes help," said one campaign source.

That includes working the phones to line up donors and supporters.

Hillary Clinton's top Democratic rivals, meanwhile, all have trotted out their spouses.

She mentions her man, but did her Jan. 20 announcement and her first two campaign swings as solo acts.

Hillary has a simple explanation.

"I'm running," she said yesterday. "I'm happy to have his help."

Political strategists and analysts say that plain statement reveals a strategic reality.

"It's too early to bring out Bill," said Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio. "She's the candidate, she's the one running for president. She's got to establish an independent identity."

Muzzio also noted that Bill Clinton "will be a net plus" for his wife, but comes with a lot of baggage she doesn't want to deal with now.

Hillary Clinton was coy about when Bill will hit the trail, saying, "You'll just have to watch."

But one date is set - March 18, at the Sheraton New York. Billed as a "celebratory dinner honoring Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton," the bash will be hosted by Bill.

An entry-level ticket - for which there is "limited availability" - costs $1,000.

To be sure to get in, you've got to pony up $2,300 for "preferred seating" or $4,600 for "premium seating."

To get "chair" seating, you've got to join the event committee and commit to raising $250,000, which also buys access to a "Thank You Reception" for those pulling in at least $10,000.

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