Terence McAuliffe, new chairman of the Democratic National Committee and friend of former president Bill Clinton, yesterday predicted that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) would not run for president in 2004, despite widespread speculation about her possible candidacy.
"I feel pretty safe saying, making a Shermanesque statement here, that Hillary Rodham Clinton will not run for president in 2004," McAuliffe said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"Absolutely guaranteed?" the show's host, Tim Russert, asked him.
"Guaranteed," McAuliffe replied.
But McAuliffe, who has been one of the ex-president's biggest supporters, balked when Russert asked whether he would promise to contribute $1 million to the Boys and Girls Club of America if Hillary Clinton ran after all. "Tim, in fairness, I would like to check with my lovely wife, Dorothy, before I make that statement," McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe said he expected former vice president Al Gore to run again. "I'm sure Al Gore will probably run," he said. The Democratic fundraiser said post-election recounts would show Gore won the state of Florida, and that would bolster Gore's claim on another chance. "He certainly has a right to argue that he should be the front-runner, you bet," McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe added that the party would likely have several candidates to choose from, but he would not predict who they might be.
Meanwhile, the former president continued to make headlines. The Rome daily La Republica said Clinton had been offered as much as $250,000 to toot his saxophone at the annual San Remo Song Festival this month in the Italian seaside resort. But Clinton's spokesman, Jake Siewert, said it was unlikely that Clinton would accept the offer, which was received Friday.
Siewert said that since leaving office Jan. 20, Clinton has received a couple of dozen requests a week to make appearances. Before leaving office, he had received hundreds of other requests. As previously reported, Clinton will be paid an average of $100,000 per appearance.
Clinton is scheduled to speak today at a Morgan Stanley Dean Witter convention in Boca Raton, Fla., for which he is being paid $100,000, Siewert said. He will spend the week in Florida, then speak to a Florida Jewish community group. In addition, Clinton has accepted an invitation to speak Feb. 27 at a meeting co-sponsored by Credit Suisse and Variety magazine in New York.
Clinton also has received 300 requests for interviews, Siewert said.
McAuliffe was asked about Clinton's last-minute pardon of fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich and the former president's expensive new Manhattan offices. McAuliffe defended Clinton, saying that the pardon "was a very tough call" and that "he is in the highest real estate market in the country." But the Democratic national chairman also said, "Bill Clinton is no longer president. You've got to get over it and . . . we've got to move on."