Saturday, September 14, 2002

Clinton: Hagan needs $2M more to beat Taft

Dems: Uh, thanks, but you're wrong

By Paul Singer
The Associated Press

        CLEVELAND - Former President Clinton told several hundred Democrats they need to raise at least $2 million for the party's candidate for governor if they want to be competitive with Republican Gov. Bob Taft, who has more than $8 million in the bank.

        A top strategist for Tim Hagan disagreed with Mr. Clinton's assessment, but said the former president's appearance raised about $250,000.

 Tim Hagan
Tim Hagan
        Meanwhile, Mr. Taft said he expected to raise about $100,000 at a Friday fund-raiser featuring golf great Jack Nicklaus.

        Mr. Clinton, making his first visit to Ohio since a May 2000 visit to Columbus, said it's not necessary for Mr. Hagan to match Mr. Taft dollar for dollar, but said Mr. Hagan needs “a couple million more” for name recognition.

        Mr. Taft reported $8.4 million available cash at the end of August, while Mr. Hagan had $586,107.

        Mr. Clinton said the race is not out of reach for Mr. Hagan.

        “With barely over 50 percent name recognition, he's inside of 10 points in this race,” Mr. Clinton told an enthusiastic crowd at Cleveland Convention Center. “You can win this race.”

        The Columbus Dispatch released a poll Sept. 1 that showed Mr. Taft with an 8-percentage-point lead over Mr. Hagan.

        Hagan consultant Gerald Austin dismissed Mr. Clinton's estimates of their fund-raising needs.

        “Bill Clinton understands conventional campaigning,” Mr. Austin said. “We are not running a conventional campaign.”

        Mr. Hagan has said he will not run TV ads and is instead putting advertisements on the Internet.

        Mr. Clinton spoke at a $1,000-per-plate fund-raiser for Mr. Hagan before the public rally, which featured the Democratic candidates for statewide office.

        Outside the hall, 20-year-old Jennifer Robbers, an Ohio University junior, said the event was “awesome.”

        She and 38 other OU students rented a bus for the 3-hour ride to Cleveland.

        “With Hagan and Bill Clinton in the same room - you can't get any better than that,” Ms. Robbers said. “They have the best charisma.”

        In Columbus, Mr. Taft and Mr. Nicklaus hosted a fund-raiser at a new museum honoring Mr. Nicklaus near Ohio State University, where he went to school.

        Tickets cost $250, with $1,000 bringing an invitation to a private reception and photo opportunity with the two.


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