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Clinton Hits The Road

President Clinton is doing his level best to raise big bucks for the Democratic Party.

Mr. Clinton's three-day swing through Arizona and California is an effort to rack up $4 million in donations to the party, $2.5 million of that just from the president's final three appearances.

The public highlight Saturday was a speech to California State Democratic Party leaders at a Los Angeles hotel. Throughout the some ten fundraisers of Mr. Clinton's southwestern trip, the president has emphasized support for Al Gore while stressing the importance of California voters in the presidential election and pointing out the vice president's involvement in programs successful in California.

While democratic fundraising events featuring President Clinton usually are polite affairs with plenty of criticism for Republicans, Friday night's soiree proved to be a particularly raucous occasion.

As the headline act for the DNC reception, comedian Bill Maher, host of Politically Incorrect, gave high praise to Clinton and dished out some low blows to Republicans.

Speaking about George W. Bush, Maher joked: "This guy is not that bright. I asked him recently, 'Have you ever had an SUV?' And he said, 'No, but it's a good idea to get tested.' "

"I never thought I'd live to hear Bill Maher say those things," Clinton said. "And he said it in front of the press, which means he'll have to dump on me twice as hard next week. But it'll be worth it. I love it. Thank you, Bill."

But ranking on Republicans is not the only thing on the president's fundraising agenda.

With Al Gore trailing Bush in national polls, one of Mr. Clinton's main messages has been to rally support for the vice president. He has regularly referred to Gore as the most influential vice president in the history of the United States.

At one of Friday's events, the president asked guests to ignore polls at this point in the presidential race.

"We can't pay any attention to polls or anything else," the president said.

He urged loyalists to "get up and saddle up and fight" for their children's future. "If we do, we win," the president added.

The Democratic National Committee is reimbursing the government for Mr. Clinton's travels and will pay the cost of a first-class airplane ticket for White House staff accompanying him on the fundraising jaunt, said DNC spokesman Rick Hess.

That payment system has been in place for political events outside of Washington since the Reagan administration, he said.