Cheers, whistles and hollers greeted President Clinton as he and an army of administration officials met with the House Democratic caucus for the first time since the president announced he would testify in the Monica Lewinsky investigation.
"I'm going to raise issues, raise money and raise Cain to help elect Democrats," the president raucously pledged in the closed-door meeting, according to two people in the room.The roiling Lewinsky controversy, which will peak when Clinton testifies to the grand jury Aug. 17, did not specifically come up at the meeting, Democrats said. But the pep-rally atmosphere cheered many Democrats who privately worried that the probe's results will overshadow the party's agenda this election year.
"We've got a very unified position on the issues," Minority Leader Richard Gephardt said in an interview after the meeting.
Also cheering Democrats were the millions of dollars Clinton was raising for them. Texas Rep. Martin Frost, head of the House Democrats' re-election committee, reminded Wednesday morning's assembly that the president has headlined 12 of their fund-raising events and raised $8 million.
Bedrock loyalists in the Hispanic and black communities brushed off concerns about the Lewinsky matter.
"We're not fair-weathered friends. We will be with you to the end," Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., told Clinton Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr called key members of the White House legal team before a grand jury.
Legal strategist Lanny Breuer testified Tuesday, and returned to the courthouse Wednesday morning for a sealed proceeding.