President Clinton spent the afternoon in a sundrenched pavilion in Florida trying to help himself and Wednesday night at a private estate in northern Virginia trying to help his party in Congress.
The day that started in Miami and ended in McLean, Va., offered a snapshot of Clinton’s approach this fall on balancing his electoral interests with his partisan responsibilities as the nation’s top Democrat.
In public, he campaigns for himself and scarcely mentions his party. For his fellow candidates, Clinton believes he can offer something more comforting than oratory - campaign cash. At two separate events Wednesday night, he helped bring in some $4 million that will go to House and Senate candidates.
Clinton said in a Washington Post interview last January that he didn’t expect to make frequent appeals for people to vote a straight Democratic ticket because he didn’t think that most voters were moved by them, and his campaigning this fall shows how closely he has hewn to that strategy.
As he stood before thousands of people in Daytona Beach Wednesday afternoon, Clinton pleaded with them to “take a little time in a quiet moment before you go to bed tonight” and imagine what they want the future to be. He asked them to reflect on a future with a clean environment, improved education and generous Medicare. But he never stated that to achieve such an agenda he needs a Democratic Congress.
One reason, according to aides, is that he doesn’t believe it’s true.
“The important thing is the vision we’re articulating,” said White House press secretary Michael McCurry, arguing that over the past two years Clinton has made progress on the “centrist agenda” he wants when “there has been bipartisanship in Congress.”