Bill Clinton to Head Fundraiser for New Jersey Sen. Menendez

Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to headline a fundraiser next month for New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez.

State Sen. Ray Lesniak of Elizabeth, a major Democratic Party fundraiser, is hosting the event billed, according to a "Save the Date" flier from New Jersey Democratic Victory, the joint fundraising project of Menendez's senate campaign and the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.

The event is to be held Sept. 6 at Lesniak's home. Guests can pay $1,000 for the cocktail reception and $10,000 for the VIP reception.

Rider University political scientist David Rebovich said Tuesday that the fundraiser featuring the popular former president is necessary for Menendez, who remains locked in a dead heat with Republican state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., according to recent polls.

"This race remains closer than many folks would have thought given that New Jersey is a strong Democratic-leaning state, and President Bush's approval ratings are so low," Rebovich said. "Bringing Clinton in is an effort to mobilize the base but also to reach out to unaffiliated voters who might associate the Clinton years with better times."

Menendez campaign spokesman Matthew Miller said Bush "has turned the peace and prosperity Bill Clinton left him into record debt at home and reckless entanglements abroad, and we are pleased President Clinton will be helping us campaign to change that direction."

Kean campaign spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said the fundraiser is "nothing more than a staged opportunity for Menendez and his questionable campaign contributors to come together in an attempt to rally his failing campaign."

Menendez has more money for his campaign than Kean. Menendez's total cash on hand is $7.39 million, according to the latest figures provided by the Federal Election Commission. Kean has $2.28 million cash on hand.