Glendening plans fund-raiser with Clinton No damage expected from Lewinsky issue, but GOP is optimistic

August 22, 1998|By William F. Zorzi Jr. and C. Fraser Smith | William F. Zorzi Jr. and C. Fraser Smith,SUN STAFF

Gov. Parris N. Glendening is pressing ahead with plans to feature President Clinton at a fund-raiser for his re-election campaign despite the Monica Lewinsky controversy that continues to shadow the Democratic White House.

Glendening campaign officials confirmed yesterday that they have invited Clinton and expect him to attend the unscheduled event, tentatively planned for early October.

While declining to discuss any specific event, the White House also said that the president intends to help the governor with fund-raising.

A spokesman for the governor's campaign made clear that Glendening is not concerned that a visit from Clinton could have negative political fallout.

"The governor is very pleased to have support from the president," said Peter S. Hamm, the campaign spokesman.

Referring to Clinton's address to the nation Monday about his relationship with Lewinsky, Hamm said: "Marylanders know that the president had a very difficult statement to make the other night. He said what he needed to say and it's time to move on."

Political observers had mixed views about the wisdom of such a move. Glendening faces what could be a close race against the likely Republican nominee, Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

Some Democrats expressed concern that the GOP will try to paint Glendening with the Clinton brush, using the question of integrity as a common theme. Others played down the risk and said the chance to raise big money justifies it.

"Generally, any hit you take is going to be far outweighed by the resources gained to get your message out," said Joe Trippi, a national Democratic campaign consultant.

But planning for an event so far in advance, particularly in the current national political climate, is problematic, Trippi said.

"The only real danger I could see is that none of us knows where this is going with the president. In October, we could be in a totally different situation," he said.

GOP leader delighted

Joyce Lyons Terhes, who heads the state Republican party, was dumbfounded -- but delighted -- to hear about the possibility of Clinton coming to stump for Glendening.

"You've got to be kidding me," Terhes said. "It's wonderful for us."

"I intend to paint the two of them together every chance I have," she said. "This is just continued ammunition for the Maryland Republican Party."

Trippi, however, said voters are unlikely to be swayed by the GOP efforts to link the two men because they "can distinguish between the two."

"One thing that's been true so far, throughout the president's problems, is that any negatives that have accrued have accrued personally. They don't stick to anyone else," Trippi said.

Glendening's integrity -- in particular, his word -- already has been called into question by Sauerbrey and a handful of Democratic challengers who fell to the side on the way to the Sept. 15 primary election, including Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann.

Rehrmann, for instance, used the message "It's a matter of trust" -- a barely veiled reference to Glendening -- in attempts to attract voters. She picked up endorsements from Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry, who echoed those themes.

'Marginal' effect

"To the extent that the country is talking about integrity, the Monica issue will be out there for Glendening to deal with," said Timothy F. Maloney, a Democrat and a former Prince George's County legislator.

Herb Smith, a political science professor and consultant, said he believes the Clinton effect on Glendening "will be marginal."

"It all depends on what's happening," Smith said. "The bombing in Afghanistan and Sudan make that point. Clinton can still rally ,, troops around him."

But others, such as John Ashbury, a conservative columnist from Frederick, believe the Clinton factor will be bad for all Democrats in the fall.

"It will hurt Democrats all over the state," Ashbury said. "Clinton lied. That will be the backlash. They will take it out on Democrats."

Pub Date: 8/22/98

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