"Bill Clinton is really the biggest presidential polarizer since Richard Nixon," said political scientist Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia. "You either love him or you hate him. And there are an awful lot of people who hate him concentrated in the business class who invest."
The investment firm Morgan Stanley Dean Witter paid Mr. Clinton a reported $100,000 to speak last week.
But after some clients complained, the firm's chairman, Philip Purcell, said, "We clearly made a mistake," citing "Mr. Clinton's personal behavior as president."
However, corporate image consultant Clive Charjet says Morgan Stanley knew exactly what they were getting in Mr. Clinton.
"It makes them look weak and foolish," he said. "I think it damages Morgan Stanley more than it damages Bill Clinton."
And, says former Salomon Brothers CEO John Gutfreund, "I think some controversial people are terrific for corporate events. You really want to know what the other side is thinking."
In fact, the controversial Mr. Clinton is commanding almost unheard-of appearance fees.
While sources say former President Ford gets $60,000 a speech, and former President Bush $80,000, astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn is one of a few in Mr. Clinton's orbit at $100,000 an appearance.
And Mr. Clinton has reportedly been offered significantly more.
The speaking fees are a sweet supplement to the president's pension. Imagine, says Chajet, if Mr. Clinton makes just a speech a week, "and let's say he takes two weeks off for Christmas. You multiply 50 by $100,000 and that's a pretty good annual income."
In fact, Mr. Clinton will deliver a keynote address to the Oracle Corporation on Monday and will speak to a conference sponsored by another investment firm, Credit Suisse First Boston, the following week. Despite the controversy, his agent Don Walker told CBS News the former commander-in-chief has several offers lined up.
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