Gore uses fund-raiser to lash out at GOP tactics He appears at event for Wynn, helps raise $120,000 in donations

October 02, 1998|By David Folkenflik | David Folkenflik,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Al Gore rewarded a loyal Democratic ally yesterday, attracting donations of about $120,000 for Rep. Albert R. Wynn's already flush campaign coffers.

During a private Capitol Hill breakfast, which more than 70 labor officials, entrepreneurs and lobbyists paid at least $1,000 apiece to attend, Gore lashed out at the Republican-led Congress, saying GOP leaders were intent on accomplishing little except inflicting damage on President Clinton.

"Whatever the proposal is that's pending, they put it not only on the back burner, they take it off the stove," Gore said, "They've done less than the 'Do-nothing Congress' of Harry Truman, some years ago."

Gore used the opportunity of the Wynn fund-raiser to sound the themes Clinton's White House advisers hope will drive Democratic voters to the polls in November, no matter how disgruntled they may be over the president's affair with Monica Lewinsky.

"All they can agree on, among themselves, is their hatred of President Clinton," Gore said, in describing what he called a Congress too scandal-obsessed to conduct the nation's business. "They cannot agree on a course of action that's good for their country."

Wynn, a three-term Democrat with a safe seat, has remained a solid supporter of Clinton even as other Democrats have joined Republicans and many in the general public in condemning the president -- particularly for his efforts to hide the affair.

The Prince Georges County Democrat was among the first to defend Clinton after his Aug. 17 televised confession, speaking out when most other Democrats were refusing to comment.

Although the House of Representatives appears likely to proceed toward impeachment hearings, Wynn has reiterated his view that Clinton's involvement with Lewinsky and subsequent denials were wrong, but do not approach the standard of "high crimes and misdemeanors" set out in the Constitution for impeachment.

In return, Gore yesterday offered his praise for Wynn. "I have been a fan of this guy since he first came to the Congress," Gore said. "He has been a stalwart ally."

With the vice president as his star attraction yesterday, Wynn received donations from the breakfast worth about $120,000, an aide said. Gore lauded Wynn several times for his backing of administration policy on budget issues, and singled out his work on behalf of small businesses.

Business people in the audience returned the favor.

"I'm a small businessman, and I believe in supporting the guys who support us," said David Denson, vice president of Axyn, a computer technology firm based in Clifton, Va. "I do a lot of business around the Beltway in Prince George's County."

Though Wynn was the event's main beneficiary, Gore used it to cement his ties with key Maryland politicos and Democratic donors who he hopes will advance his presidential bid in 2000. The breakfast, held at the National Democratic Club a few blocks from the Capitol, was also attended by Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan and Baltimore Comptroller Joan M. Pratt.

Gore had warm words for Townsend yesterday, and he also briefly praised her running mate, Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who made national headlines when he snubbed Clinton in August by canceling a fund-raiser with the president. Gore has agreed to raise money at an event later this month to help Glendening hold off a stiff re-election challenge from Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

Wynn is expected to defeat handily his Republican challenger, John B. Kimble, and to represent for another two-year term his majority black congressional district, which includes suburban Prince George's County and part of Montgomery County.

In 1996, when Kimble and Wynn first faced off, the GOP contender offered to pose nude for Playgirl magazine to try to raise money for his financially outmatched campaign. As of Aug. 26, well before yesterday's fund-raiser, Wynn's campaign said it had more than $279,000 in the bank, even after spending $167,000 this year.

Pub Date: 10/02/98

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