Reproduced from The Record dated Monday, March 21, 2003

by Michael J. Wildes, Mayor, City of Enlgewood

2-10 N. Van Brunt Street

Enlgewood , NJ 07631


The Record

Monday, March 31, 2003


Fund-Raiser hears Clinton

Senator is target of war protesters

BY: Alex Nussbaum


ENGLEWOOD - There were nursing home residents and domestic violence counselors, rabbis and ministers, ward heelers and political consultants. They all crowded into a stuffy ballroom Sunday for the closest thing Democrats have to an elected celebrity these days.

But the 300 who surged toward the podium at the Radisson Hotel, where Sen. Hillary Rodham
Clinton appeared at a fund-raiser, included a few who were less than thrilled with her support for the war in Iraq . As the transplanted New Yorker spoke of supporting the troops, anti-war protester Michael McLean broke into shouts.

"No war in 2004!" the 19-year-old from Mahwah shouted as he fell toward
Clinton . He was still yelling when authorities quickly escorted him out.

The former first lady, wide-eyed for a moment, never stumbled during her speech. "I deeply respect differences of opinion," she told the crowd.

"That's what elections are for, and that's what we will have the opportunity to debate" - but in the future, she said.

Clinton, who in October voted to authorize military action in
Iraq , skewered the Bush administration for its proposed tax cut, the weak economy, and homeland security funding. But she avoided the war and military strategy, other than to express her devotion to the troops.

Mostly, the event was a time to sound Democratic themes and gather cash for
Clinton 's political action committee. The freshman senator is a heavyweight among party fund-raisers, distributing nearly $1 million to candidates nationwide since 2000.

Sunday's appearance was organized by Englewood Councilman Michael Wildes, a candidate for mayor this year. The speech and a closed-door reception beforehand raised more than $50,000 for
Clinton 's committee, he said. Admission was $1,000 per person, although many said they came for free as Wildes' guests.

Outside the hotel, about two dozen people protested
Clinton 's stance on the war. They said they have been targeting Democrats who authorized the conflict.

"The people in Congress, those who voted for it, are now responsible for these many, many deaths of Iraqi civilians and our soldiers," said Paula Ragovin, a teacher from
Teaneck , who held a makeshift coffin under dreary skies.

Protesters said they support the troops and oppose Saddam Hussein. But President Bush could have resorted to another course, such as tougher weapons inspections, they said.

Clinton said she had voted to authorize military action to encourage Bush to give diplomacy and the United Nations a try. She did not mention that vote Sunday.

Though some have questioned the White House's war plan in recent days, the closest
Clinton came was to note that the Pentagon always reviews its performance after a conflict. "I expect our political system to do the same, and I will be an active participant in that," she said.

She was less circumspect on other issues, blasting Bush for what she said was poor funding for local authorities who serve on the front lines of homeland security.

As for the proposed tax cut, which the president says would stimulate the economy and tax revenues, Clinton told the cheering crowd that the savings would go "mostly to the rich."

"When my husband left office, we had huge surpluses and no deficits," she said, referring to former President Bill Clinton. Now, she argued, the federal government is back in the red, thanks to "the most wrong-headed economic policy we have had since Herbert Hoover," the president at the start of the Great Depression.

Invitees said they supported
Clinton , whatever her stance on the war. Wildes praised her for serving during a time "that now offers very few painless choices."

The event was officially closed to the media, although a reporter, perhaps unnoticed, was able to hear the speech.
Clinton 's staff ordered a photographer for The Record out of the building. The senator left without taking any questions.

But a few protesters, such as
McLean , did sneak in. Another man stood quietly in a tuxedo until Clinton 's speech ended. Afterward, he asked loudly why she was supporting the "con man in the White House."

Clinton , by that time, was shaking hands at the side of the stage. The man was hustled out of the room. Englewood police said later that they made no arrests.

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Paid for by Friends of Michael J. Wildes, Claudia Colbert, Treasurer