Politics

Obama, Bill Clinton to appear at New York City fundraisers

Michael McAuliff
New York Daily News (MCT)

WASHINGTON - After nearly upsetting Hillary Clinton in the race for cash, Barack Obama invades New York Monday with an appearance on "Letterman" and a pair of fundraisers with Manhattan tycoons.

But Clinton isn't about to sit still while her main opponent steals the headlines and the money - she's unleashing her high-powered husband yet again this week to grub dollars for her in Manhattan.

Fresh from an Easter vacation in the Dominican Republic, Bill Clinton will star at a pair of maximum-priced $4,600 receptions hosted by Manhattan society figures Tuesday and Thursday, the New York Daily News has learned.

Obama has already taken a healthy bite out of the Big Apple, likely raising $3 million or more of his $25 million first-quarter haul here.

Clinton, despite owning a veteran buck-raking operation, just edged out the Illinois senator with $26 million.

Her camp said Sunday they are not worried about Obama's success at hauling in handouts in New York, one of the country's busiest political ATM machines.

"We're thrilled with our hometown support," said top Clinton strategist Howard Wolfson.

But Obama's trip here Monday is a powerful one-two punch.

"`Letterman' is a wonderful forum for candidates who are candid and charismatic, and Obama certainly is that," said University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato.

Wolfson declined to say what TV plans Clinton has.

Obama has mined popular TV shows for headlines before, getting a major boost from a well-crafted intro to a "Monday Night Football" show, touting his Chicago Bears and helping himself with an important demographic group.

David Letterman's late-night TV audience of roughly 4 million is another good group to woo, but Sabato said more important may be Obama's panning for gold at the home of Huffington Post founder Kenneth Lerer and the Central Park West manse of MTV creator Robert Pittman.

"It's a thumb in the eye to Hillary Clinton. It irritates her," said Sabato.

Clinton has appeared on Letterman's show but not since announcing she was making a run for the White House.

Sabato said her biggest problem is that Obama's strong showing in the money race shows Democrats Clinton isn't their only viable choice. "They have given the green light to people who didn't want to challenge her," he said.

"The fact that she doesn't have a lock on the nomination has emboldened a lot of people."

That means Bill Clinton will have to work overtime in the money race to keep his wife on top - and signs are that he will.

Besides this week's Manhattan events, Camp Clinton is unholstering the Bubba gun for a trip to California next weekend; a rare, low-dollar hat-passer the following week at Pier 94, and then events in Nassau and Westchester counties in early May.

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