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Sen. Clinton Pitches In

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) is barnstorming the country and signing a flurry of fundraising letters in an 11th-hour effort to boost the war chests of Democratic Congressional candidates and the party’s presidential nominee, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

In the past four days alone, Clinton has attended seven campaign events in four states and the District of Columbia to raise money for Kerry, as well as two House candidates and Missouri state Treasurer Nancy Farmer, who is challenging the incumbent, Sen. Kit Bond (R).

In the next month, Clinton has scheduled at least 10 more fundraising appearances for Democrats that will see her travel to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, the District of Columbia and New York. More events are planned but have not yet been confirmed, said Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton’s top fundraiser.

“She is a great draw,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Jon Corzine (N.J.), who regularly relies on Clinton to help raise money for candidates and the committee. “She gets a great response.”

In addition to her personal appearances, Clinton has signed several fundraising letters in recent weeks and urged donors of her Senate campaign committee as well as her political action committee (HILLPAC) to donate to Democratic candidates, including Kerry and Betty Castor, who is running for Florida’s open Senate seat.

The fundraising letter for Kerry was e-mailed simultaneously on Sept. 23 to her political allies as well as Kerry’s supporters.

“I have got wonderful supporters, and everybody is chipping in and trying to help our candidates,” Clinton said in a brief interview last week. “It is part of the overall team effort. I think the most important thing is that we just put the money together so that none of our candidates is at a financial disadvantage.”

Clinton has also dug deep into her own pockets to dole out contributions to Democratic candidates and her party’s various fundraising arms.

So far this election cycle, she has donated more than $350,000 to candidates and Democratic committees, according to June 30 campaign records filed with the Federal Election Commission. An update of Clinton’s Senate campaign account and PAC is due later this month, and the amount she has contributed to Democrats is expected to climb.

Democrats are not alone in trying to capitalize on Clinton’s political clout.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee dedicates space on its Web site to a “Stop Hillary” campaign, which monitors all of her activities. Dan Allen, an NRSC spokesman, acknowledged that while Clinton is effective in raising money, several Democratic candidates would prefer that she keep her distance from them.

“We know that some of these Democrats might take the money from her, but they certainly don’t want her out there campaigning in their states,” Allen said. “We doubt we will see her out there campaigning in the South, Alaska or South Dakota.”

Despite being a target of conservatives, Clinton is not shying away from her criticism of President Bush and Republican leaders such as Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.).

In an e-mail sent to her supporters following last week’s presidential debate, Clinton criticized Bush for “angrily refusing to take responsibility for his decision to rush to war.” Later in the same e-mail, she described Bush’s foreign policy approach as “arrogant” and “go-it-alone.”

In another e-mail sent to DSCC supporters on Sept. 28, she alleged the Senate Republican leadership is pursuing a legislative agenda designed to curb people’s personal freedom.

“The Republicans don’t even believe in the right to privacy,” Clinton charged. “Just look at Senator Santorum who held up a copy of the Constitution on the floor of the Senate and declared that the phrase ‘right to privacy’ ‘does not exist.’ Every radical activist judge that they appoint brings our opponents one step closer to their goal: to change the law of the land and strip away our rights,” she added.

Jenny Backus, a Democratic consultant, said it is not surprising Clinton is playing an active role in trying to wrest control of the White House and Congressional majority from Republican hands.

“She has suffered more slings and arrows from the right wing than almost any politician in the party,” Backus said. “She is extremely tough and doesn’t let it faze her.”

Although Clinton’s main goal in the next month is to raise funds for Kerry and other Democrats, she is also complementing her schedule with day-to-day campaign events designed to energize Democratic voters.

“While she is [traveling] the country fundraising for Democrats, she will also be participating in get-out-the-vote efforts for John Kerry,” Doyle said.

And even though some Democratic candidates from conservative areas would prefer to remain at arms’ length from Clinton, Kerry is embracing her support.

“Senator Clinton has done everything we have asked her to do to help elect John Kerry” and vice presidential nominee John Edwards, said Allison Dobson, a Kerry spokeswoman. “We will obviously going to continue to use her to get out the vote. It is all hands on deck for sure in the last [28] days.”

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