Friday, December 03, 1999

Mrs. Clinton's hour-long visit nets $75,000

The Cincinnati Enquirer

John Deane, 8, holds a flower for Hillary Rodham Clinton as she passes by in a car at Lunken Airport.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        AMBERLEY VILLAGE — If any of the guests who paid $1,000 each to meet Hillary Rodham Clinton here Thursday had any doubts that she is really running for the U.S. Senate, the first lady dispelled them.

        “She's running, there's no doubt about that,” said Lauren Chesley Cohen, who, with her husband, James, was Mrs. Clinton's host at a fund-raiser early in the evening.

        “She was clear, she was excited and she is definitely running,” Mrs. Cohen said after the event, which was closed to the press.

        After flying into Cincinnati's Lunken Airport shortly after 6 p.m. and making a 20-minute ride to Amberley Village, Mrs. Clinton spent less than an hour in the Cohen home. Then she headed back to Washington, but her New York Senate campaign walked away with another $75,000 from the event.

        It was a good take from a single fund-raiser held several states removed from where she will be running, but it won't make much of a dent in the $20 million Mrs. Clinton is likely to need to run a competitive race in New York.

        But Mrs. Cohen — the daughter of lawyer Stan Chesley, who has raised millions for the Democratic Party and is closely tied to the Clintons — said Thursday night that she is willing to do more.

        “I'll be glad to help and hold more events, if they ask me to,” Mrs. Cohen said. “I can always find another 50 people willing to help Hillary.”

        She would have to find a different 50 than the ones who attended Thursday's event, and the ones who made contributions but did not attend. Federal election law limits individuals to $1,000 contributions to congressional candidates.

        Mrs. Cohen said Mrs. Clinton mingled with the guests, chatting with many of them individually, before going into the living room to make a brief speech to the group.

        There had been some doubt in recent weeks about whether Mrs. Clinton, after months of testing the waters, would run for the seat of retiring Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

        Polls in New York show her trailing her likely opponent, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, although not by a wide margin. A flap over Mrs. Clinton's embracing and kissing the wife of Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yassir Arafat was seen as hurting her chances to win New York's sizeable Jewish vote.

        But last week, speaking before the American Federation of Teachers, Mrs. Clinton gave her strongest statement yet that she will run. Mrs. Cohen said Mrs. Clinton said nothing Thursday night that would make her think otherwise.

        “I don't think there's any question about it,” Mrs. Cohen said.

        Mrs. Cohen hosted a Democratic fund-raiser in 1996 at Cincinnati's Music Hall featuring Mrs. Clinton. The first lady was last in Cincinnati in 1998 for a fund-raising event for U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Lucasville, and Roxanne Qualls, who was then running for the U.S. House.

        Thursday night, Amberley Village police checked cars going in and out of the cul-de-sac where the Cohens live. A valet parking service lined the street with the cars of the guests, who included Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken and Mrs. Cohen's father.


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