NEW YORK – Bill Clinton invoked Scripture and Al Gore warned of the looming calamity of climate change as the former president and vice president appeared onstage to honor an outgoing Democratic Party official.
Democrats sentimental for a return of the Clinton-Gore political era saw their wish briefly fulfilled Monday night at a dinner for Democratic National Committee official Maureen White.
The two did not appear onstage together, joining committee Chairman Howard Dean at different moments in the program. Gore was accompanied by his wife, Tipper Gore.
Speaking to the 500 donors who'd paid at least $1,000 to attend the dinner, Clinton urged the group to think of themselves as "values voters" whose concerns mirror those of most Americans.
"We don't have to be afraid of our values," Clinton said, outlining a message he said Democrats need to convey when asked by skeptical voters what they stand for. "We believe in ... shared opportunities, shared responsibilities and shared participation in the community."
Clinton said Republicans "believe in concentrated wealth and power and using ideology to divide people."
Mentioning the coming Easter Sunday holiday, he reminded the crowd that Democrats stand for one of the hallmarks of the New Testament — helping the poor.
In recent weeks, Clinton and other party leaders have sought to frame Democratic concerns in religious language.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., Bill Clinton's wife, and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the party's 2004 presidential candidate, recently criticized a tough Republican-backed immigration bill as contrary to Christian beliefs.
Republican National Committee spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt, in an e-mail, said later of Bill Clinton's remarks at the dinner: "Ironic choice of words given that the senator has increasingly used her bully pulpit to launch personal negative attacks rather than talk about ideas to better our country."
Gore called on the crowd of donors to use their "moral imagination" to address the threat of global warming, estimating that only 10 years remain to make the global changes necessary to thwart a potential environmental catastrophe.
Gore, who narrowly lost the 2000 presidential election to Republican George W. Bush, did not cast his argument in partisan terms.
"Democrats need to push a political consensus," he said.
Monday's event honoring White was expected to raise $1.3 million for the DNC, spokeswoman Karen Finney said. White, the DNC's longtime national finance chair, is retiring.