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Jewish Journal

Clinton, Bush L.A. Appearance on Hold

by Tom Tugend

November 11, 2009 | 8:25 pm

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have canceled their joint public lecture in Los Angeles, but the sponsoring American Jewish University (AJU) believes that the cancellation rests on a misunderstanding and is working to reverse the presidential decisions.

The joint lecture was scheduled for Feb. 22 at the Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal City, and tickets went on sale Nov. 5.

According to Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna, the two former presidents were offended by the way promoters handled publicity for another joint appearance, on Feb. 25 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

However, the arrangements and advance publicity for the Los Angeles event were handled independently of the New York organizers, AJU President Robert Wexler told The Journal.

McKenna said Clinton was upset because the New York promoters advertised their forum as “the hottest ticket in political history,” implying a clash between the 42nd and 43rd chief executives, rather than a moderated panel discussion.

“It’s unfortunate that an overeager promoter ruined the opportunity to hear a serious discussion on the issues between two former presidents, who have a great deal of respect for each other,” McKenna told the Times.

By contrast, the full-page ads for the Los Angeles event, placed in The Journal by AJU’s Whizin Center for Continuing Education, were low-key, reprinting the presidential inaugural oath and using such headlines as “One Unprecedented Night” and “The Wait Is Over.”

Wexler said that he and Gady Levy, AJU vice president for continuing education, were notified of the cancellation on Nov. 6.

“We arranged for the appearance of the two presidents independently through their respective speakers bureaus and made it clear we would conduct the moderated discussion on the highest level,” Wexler said.

“President Clinton has talked to us on two previous occasions, which were very successful,” he added. “We are hopeful that the decision will be reversed.”

Tickets for the Los Angeles forum were advertised as ranging from $75 to $125. Fees for the two speakers were not disclosed, but each received a reported $150,000 when they spoke recently in Toronto, according to the Times.

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