Clinton's quiet visit raises eyebrows

Thursday, March 23, 2006

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- An unannounced fund-raising luncheon in Kansas City for Sen. Hillary Clinton has drawn the criticism not only of Republicans, but of some Democrats.

She also had a fund-raiser in St. Louis on Monday that was unannounced.

Clinton, a Democrat from New York and potential presidential candidate, spent 90 minutes Monday at the home of Kansas City lawyer Herb Kohn, an adviser to Mayor Kay Barnes. Clinton walked away with about $40,000 for her Senate re-election campaign, but Democratic critics wonder at what cost to others running for office.

"The timing is bad," said Democratic activist Woody Overton. "We have a U.S. Senate race going on in Missouri."

Claire McCaskill, the state auditor, is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Talent. A spokeswoman for McCaskill said she doesn't think it will have much effect on their campaign.

A spokeswoman for Clinton said neither the St. Louis nor then Kansas City trips were out of the ordinary.

But GOP officials viewed the secrecy surrounding Clinton as a chink in the Democratic front.

"It makes perfect sense," said Republican party spokesman Paul Sloca. "The Democrats know and Hillary knows that she does not represent Missouri values in any way, shape or form. It makes sense for her to sneak in and zip right out."

"Claire McCaskill can try to distance herself from Hillary, but we see them representing the same Northeast Democratic values the likes of Ted Kennedy and Howard Dean."

The former first lady is well-known for her fundraising prowess, reporting more than $17 million in the coffers at year's end.

The path to Clinton's Senate re-election became a bit easier last week, when it was discovered that potential challenger Kathleen Troia McFarland had not voted in recent elections and was registered in two places, which could lead to criminal charges under New York state law.

But many believe Clinton has her eyes on the White House, and those who attended the fundraiser in Kansas City called her "a breath of fresh air."

"She is remarkably impressive," said David Westbrook, also a supporter of McCaskill who has contributed to both campaigns. "She is centered, on point, deals with the tough issues and expresses herself clearly and without clichˇs."

Information from: The Kansas City Star,

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