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Dinner With Hillary Clinton Or Fighting AIDS With Bill Clinton?

It's hard to judge who needs the money more, but it just seemed awkward if not rude this week when Bill Clinton issued an E-mail fundraising letter for his AIDS project just two-and-a-half hours after his wife's plea to many of the same people to help retire old campaign debt. If communication is the key to a strong marriage, then it ought to be the same for dueling fundraising operations. It all started Wednesday when Hillary Clinton sent an invitation to donate $5 for a chance to have dinner with her. "It sure is nice having a little more time on my hands and I'd love to spend some of it with you. Would you like to join me for dinner?" she asks. Note, it's dinner with her, not him and her.

"My staff has been calling this my 'retirement dinner'--not because I'm retiring, of course, but because we're working on retiring the debt we owe to small vendors all over the country." She adds: "Let's go to dinner! Every little bit helps and even $5 can make a real difference." It's a cute and probably effective effort. That is, until Bill weighed in with his powerful request to pledge support for his campaign to rid Africa of AIDS. "Please take my voice with you to Africa--and on to Mexico City for the International AIDS Conference--to speak for the millions living with HIV/AIDS and malaria who desperately need lifesaving treatment and for the countless people living in rural areas who do not have access to adequate health care." Clinton's request for $25 or more is more subtle, but if faced with the two pleas on the same day, which would you most likely write a check for?

By Paul Bedard