Trial lawyers and Silicon Valley executives have two things in common: They loathe each other, and they support President Clinton.
After a brief private interlude with first lady Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea, a Stanford University sophomore, the president continued his campaign fund-raising swing through California Saturday, hop-scotching from high-tech executives to their archenemy in state politics, the trial lawyers.Clinton attended a $10,000-per-couple afternoon fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee in Rancho Santa Fe hosted by Bill Lerach, a high-powered San Diego lawyer who has made a name doing battle in court and on the ballot box with California's equally high-powered high tech industry.
Lerach, dubbed "Silicon Valley's Nightmare," in one recent headline, sounded ready to do battle on Clinton's behalf as he introduced the president to a poolside crowd of about 40 people at his palatial suburban San Diego home.
"It is time for Democrats to stand up against an ugly witch hunt to drive from office one of the best and most popular presidents in history," said Lerach. Attacking independent counsel Kenneth Starr's allegations as politically biased, Lerach told Clinton: "Don't resign, don't quit. You stay there and you fight for the people who believe in you and care about you."
The comments, which prompted guests to stand and applaud, marked one of the few times that a speaker introducing Clinton during this political swing, has mentioned the Lewinsky matter.
Clinton replied, "If I had any sense, I wouldn't say anything." He did not discuss his own political and legal difficulties but referred obliquely to them saying, "I cannot tell you how much it means to me not only as your president but as a person what you have said here and what I have seen all across this country."
Clinton's motorcade encountered scores of demonstrators on the way into San Diego. One group, of perhaps 100 people, waved signs including "Jail to the Chief" and "Visualize Impeachment."
The private fund-raiser was expected to raise at least $400,000, somewhat less than the $650,000 Clinton netted for the DNC Friday night at a San Jose fund-raiser hosted by Silicon Valley executives.
Venture capitalist John Doerr, who organized the Silicon Valley event, said one of the key Clinton positions that attracts high-tech leaders is his support for "a bill to allow us to communicate with our investors without Securities and Exchange Commission implications," precisely the kind of protection that Lerach and his allies try to break down.
Later Saturday, Clinton was to attend a fund-raiser and Democratic Party "Unity Dinner" in Los Angeles attended by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gray Davis and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
The California Republican Party had no problem with Saturday's presidential itinerary.
"Every single time Barbara Boxer and Gray Davis appear with Clinton, it reminds those voters who are embarrassed about their votes for Clinton," said State Republican Party Chairman Mike Schroeder.