Speaking to a group of trial lawyers at a $25,000-a-head Dallas, Texas fund-raising speech, President Clinton called Republican National Committee chairman Jim Nicholson a “gay basher” and criticized him for his views on trial lawyers, labor unions, and Hollywood.
When WorldNetDaily sent a White House transcript of the president’s remarks to Nicholson for comment, the RNC chairman — who said he had been unaware of the president’s verbal attacks on him — said he would demand an apology from Clinton.
“I’m drafting a letter demanding an apology for accusing us of gay bashing, something we would never do,” he said.
Clinton went to the Preston Hollow mansion of American Trial Lawyers Association vice president Frederick M. Baron, and partner Lisa Blue, on Wednesday to address 60 attorneys who paid $25,000 and more to rub elbows with the president. He spoke earlier in the day at two other private homes in border town McAllen. Estimates of the amounts raised range from $1.1 to $2 million.
While Clinton was in Texas raising money, Hillary Clinton was campaigning in Albion, New York where she got into trouble for leaving a restaurant without leaving a tip for the waitress, a single mom. Regarding her opponent, New York City Mayor Rudy Gulliani, who was in a different restaurant the same day, Republican state Senator George Mazairz told WorldNetDaily, “Gulliani always leaves a generous tip.” Republican New York state Assemblyman Charles Nesbitt said the incident “illustrates how out of touch the Clintons are.”
The money being raised by Clinton will go to the Democratic National Committee, and will then be sent to various candidates — including Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign.
During his speech, Clinton reminisced about his days as governor of Arkansas, saying that although he enjoyed those days he found it was hard to get attention nationally.
“I loved my job, I could have done it now to kingdom come,” Clinton said.
“And everybody was struggling to be politically correct and to be as confrontational as possible, because that is the only way you would get your 15 seconds on the evening news,” Clinton told the enthusiastic supporters.
Clinton was critical of Nicholson for expressing concerns about trial lawyers, saying he is grateful for his association with them.
“I’m not ashamed of the fact we’ve got a lot of trial lawyers here. I’m not ashamed of the fact that I think if people have been shafted, they ought to be able to go to court and pursue their remedy,” he said to the room full of applauding attorneys.
Baron and his law firm are the subject of controversial reports in Texas and national media. Former employees and clients accuse him of inventing testimony, encouraging witnesses to lie, and implanting memories in workers filing claims. According to some press reports, Baron has made an $800 million fortune by pursuing dubious cases of asbestos damages.
Baron and his supporters say that they are just using tactics any good trial lawyer should use to win their client’s case.
Clinton thanked them all for their financial support, and began his remarks by thanking Baron and Blue for “being wonderful friends to me and Hillary and to Al and Tipper Gore, and to our party.”
Records show that Baron and Blue gave at least $500,000 in donations to the Clinton-Gore campaign, the Democratic National Committee, the Clinton defense fund and other Democrats. His influence on other trial lawyers has brought millions more to Clinton and other Democrats, according to some published estimates.
“I also want to say this,” Clinton added. “I’m also proud of the fact that we’ve had a real relationship. This has not been a political deal, we haven’t 100 percent agreed on everything. We’ve had a relationship — it’s like being in a family or an organization or anything else. It’s real here.”
“Our friends in the other party talk about how terrible the trial lawyers are. All I want to know is, if you guys are so destructive, why do we have 21 million jobs and the best economy we’ve ever had? And the same thing about the labor unions. Labor enrollments went up last year for the first time in many years. I think that’s a good thing for people to be organized, to be able to not only vent their grievances, but, more importantly, build partnerships for the future,” Clinton said.
He also spoke about the treatment of gays, which brought more applause from the group.
“I plead guilty to believing that we should not deprive people of jobs or subject them to violence just because they’re gay. I’m guilty of that; I believe that. I think anybody that shows up for work and pays their taxes and are willing to do whatever it takes to be a good citizen of this country ought to be treated with the same amount of respect as anybody else,” said Clinton.
Clinton says he was the first political leader to ask Hollywood executives to create a ratings system for television, and to reduce the amount of inappropriate viewing available to children. He said his personal influence and contacts in Hollywood brought about the current television rating system.
“And not everybody agreed with it, but again, we’re in,” said the president. “I have a relationship with a lot of people out there, and we got a rating system. I wish it worked better now because it’s kind of — practically, it’s difficult because you’ve got to worry — if you’re a parent, you’ve got to worry about the video games and the TV and the movies and all that. And we’re trying to work through that,” Clinton admitted.
Nicholson responded to the president’s verbal attacks.
“First, I’ve never said anything to harm people who are gay,” he said he will tell the president in his letter. “Second, I was absolutely right when I said you are beholden to the trial lawyers. That’s why we can’t get anything done in Congress. That’s who you get all your money from.
“Hollywood, yeah, of course. Are you going to say that Barbara Streisand and the Dreamworks crowd do not give bushels full of money to your campaign?
“And finally, when it comes to the labor bosses, they are essentially your private ATM machine. That’s all you have left to keep Al Gore’s hapless campaign going, is to pick the pockets of the working Americans to fund your election campaign so you can keep government big and taxes high for them,” said Nicholson.
Clinton told the group of lawyers and elected officials that globalization is here and that anyone who wants to return to the past is wrong.
“I just think that if you look at the way the world works and how it’s changing, all these trends toward globalization, all the threats that are out there from people who are trying to take advantage of globalization for their own ends. If you look at all the opportunities that are out there through scientific and technological advances, it does not make sense for us in this year to revert to the patterns that I have spent seven years trying to break,” Clinton explained.
He also said that political debates between conservatives and liberals must be brought to a halt and a new unifying vision must be inserted in the place of political divisions.
“None of you live like this, and none of you have any role at all like this, except when you vote we’re supposed to be like this,” said Clinton.
“I have worked for seven long years, with the help of people in my administration, people like you, to prove that we could have a unifying vision that would bring this country together, not in the middle of the road, but in a dynamic movement forward,” Clinton explained.
He credited his “unifying vision” for growth of the economy, low welfare and crime rates, as well as the lowest poverty rates in 20 years.
“This works, and it’s not rocket science,” he told the cheering crowd of supporters.
The economy has been good for Baron. His new 15,254-square-foot mansion, appraised at $5.2 million, stands out as a symbol of economic ambition. It has only three bedrooms, but there are 11 bathrooms, six wet bars and six fireplaces.
The guests paid $25,000 and up per couple to come to the home and meet the president. Most of the guests were other trial lawyers, but other guests included Democrats like Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, Texas state Senator David Cain, and Regina Montoya Coggins, a lawyer who hopes to unseat Rep. Pete Sessions, R.-Dallas.