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Dems praise Hillary Clinton as GOP rips fundraiser

Jim Lynch and David Shepardson
The Detroit News

Bingham Farms — President Bill Clinton headlined a Wednesday fundraiser here for his wife’s presidential campaign, but police and Secret Service agents kept the curious away.

The former president is visiting the Bingham Farms home of Doreen Hermelin, whose deceased husband, David, was President Clinton’s ambassador to Norway. Tickets to the two-hour afternoon event for Democratic presidential front runner Hillary Clinton cost $500, and attendees could get a photo with the former president by making a $2,700 contribution.

The event comes after the surging campaign of Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, fought Clinton to almost a tie in third-quarter fundraising. Her campaign raised more than $28 million to his camp’s $26 million.

Bloomfield Hills attorney and Barry L. Howard didn’t attend but welcomed the president’s visit and said he hoped former Secretary of State Clinton would go on offense in the campaign.

“At the end of the day, it’s early and we don’t know who the Republican nominee will be, so there’s time to regain the momentum,” said Howard, who has given $2,700 to the campaign along with his wife’s $2,700 contribution. “But she’s got to stop being the punching bag.

“She should emphasize her experience. The Republican Party is not doing such a great job in governing, especially in the House of Representatives.”

The location of the Hermelin residence on a winding two-lane road helped keep protesters and the media away from the entrance. But a crowd of more than a dozen set up shop a quarter mile away on 13 Mile, determined to voice its frustration with Clinton, whose lead among Democrats has dropped in recent polls.

Among them was Wayne Bradley, director of engagement for the Michigan GOP.

“We’re out here because it’s obvious that the only time the Clintons come to Michigan is when it involves money — not coming here to talk to the people or answer questions from the media,” Bradley said.

In July, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made her first trip to Michigan since announcing her presidential campaign to spearhead a fundraiser at the Grosse Pointe home of David Katz and Jill Alper. About 210 individuals attended the event that generated about $567,000 in donations.

“A lot of the Republican candidates have come to Michigan already because … Michigan matters,” Bradley said. “The only thing that matters to the Clinton campaign is money.”

As part of her July visit, the former secretary of state visited a restaurant called Sweet Potato Sensations in Detroit, ordered a slice of sweet potato cobbler with a scoop of sweet potato pecan ice cream and mingled with patrons during a 40-minute visit. “I’ve said in this campaign that I want to be the small business president,” Clinton told reporters then.

Five candidates, including former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, attended a state party event on Mackinac Island in September. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson visited southern Michigan earlier this month, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush plans an Oct. 22 fundraiser in Bloomfield Hills.

Nearby, Madison Heights resident Barbara Barber, 60, stood on the sidewalk brandishing a homemade sign that read “Hilary Clinton — Destroying the American Dream Since 1947.”

Among the things Barber said she is most frustrated with is Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account to conduct government business as secretary of state. The number of emails now considered classified that were sent from her private server total more than 400, according to media reports.

“I am against Hillary and I don’t want her to run because of the things she’s done and what she stands for,” Barber said. “Those emails, those belong to the government and they belong to the people. ... If you did what she did with your employer, you would be fired.”

Lake Orion resident Lisa Stoddard, 60, was brief in her assessment of the former secretary of state.

“I don’t trust her,” she said.