Clinton Plays Captain Cash

President Clinton is sprinting through three days of Democratic fund-raisers, helping gather the millions of dollars needed to buy TV time for Al Gore's presidential campaign.

His one break from politics takes him to the U.S. Olympics Training Center at Chula Vista, Calif., where the president will pay tribute Friday to athletes preparing to compete for the United States in Sydney, Australia, this September.

Then it's on to Los Angeles to raise more campaign money, both for the vice president's campaign and for Democrats trying to regain control of Congress after six years of GOP rule.

First in Phoenix and then in San Diego, Mr. Clinton took a prominent cheer-leading role for Gore and jabbed at Texas Gov. George W. Bush's promises to spend the nation's burgeoning projected budget surplus on tax cuts and favored programs.

Mr. Clinton issued his warnings amid reports that his administration will announce next week that new projections show budget surpluses reaching nearly $2 trillion over the next decade.

The president's message: It's wrong for Bush, the presumptive GOP presidential candidate, to make lavish spending promises based on paper projections that may never turn into hard cash.

"I don't think we ought to risk the whole projected surplus on tax cuts and long-term spending commitments," Mr. Clinton said of the Bush proposals as he delivered the day's fourth and final fund-raising speech at a sit-down dinner here for major contributors.

"I think it's a risky strategy and it's not working," Mr. Clinton said. "We worked a long time to just turn this thing around, and we don't just want to squander it again."

"I say again, this surplus is projected," Mr. Clinton said, at an earlier fund-raiser. "We don't have this money yet. How in the world can we give it away?"

At every speech the president tried various versions of this line: "You don't have to go out and say anything bad about the Republicans; all you have to do is tell the truth about the differences between the two parties. And if you tell the truth and the people listen, the Democrats will win."

Sources told The Associated Press that Mr. Clinton will soon announce a projected surplus of $1.9 trillion over the next decade. Mr. Clinton himself used that figure in his fund-raising speeches in California.

The figure is more than double the $746 billion the administration projected in February. The figures exclude Social Security.

Before he returns home to Washington on Saturday night, Mr. Clinton will have given 11 speeches, all but one of them pitches for campaign money.

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, said DNC spokesman Rick Hess.

That's the payment system in place for political events outside oWashington that's been in place since the Reagan administration, he said.