WASHINGTON -- Bill Clinton is a hot prospect on the lecture circuit, sometimes too hot to handle.
Even with some organizers shunning him, he's being wooed to podiums in the United States, Canada, Asia, Europe and Latin America.
"The engagements are just piling up like airplanes over LaGuardia on a foggy day," said Don Walker, president of the Harry Walker Agency, which is representing Clinton.
What Walker won't say is whether Clinton's fees are in descent as a result of the stir he's created over the Marc Rich pardon, gifts taken from the White House and returned and his passing flirtation with sky-high New York City office rent that would have been paid by taxpayers.
To some conference planners, Clinton is tainted.
Officials at Yellow Corp., a freight company based in Overland Park, Kan., briefly considered inviting him but opted against it, said Gregory Reid, a senior vice president.
"We squashed it in less than 10 minutes," Reid said. "We didn't want to take the chance of offending any of our customers." Former President George Bush and his wife, Barbara, appeared instead.
Eastern Bank, based in Boston, which is helping to pay to bring Clinton to a Massachusetts college next month, is among the latest institutions to get calls and e-mails from Clinton critics.
Earlier, they criticized Morgan Stanley Dean Witter for paying the former president at least $100,000 to speak in Boca Raton, Fla.
Philip Purcell, chairman of Morgan Stanley, sent an e-mail to clients that said: "We should have been far more sensitive to the strong feelings of our clients over Mr. Clinton's personal behavior as president."
Then came a backlash of sorts.
Sixteen members of the New York City Council wrote to Purcell to express dismay at his e-mail. "Your apology shows an extreme insensitivity to those who have equally strong positive feelings about President Clinton's record of achievement in office," the letter said.
A day later, audio book publisher Michael Viner and his wife, Deborah Raffin, followed suit. They wrote to Morgan Stanley closing their account because of statements Purcell made about Clinton.
"We do not believe that our brokerage house should pass judgment on the moral standards of any president regardless of his political party," Viner's letter said.
Like him or not, Clinton is a three-C marquee, says Paul Goldman, a speechwriter at Eastman Kodak in Rochester, N.Y. -- a Controversial, Colorful Celebrity. And, of course, he was president for eight years.
"I have no doubt that Bill Clinton will be in great demand," Goldman said.
Robert Rackleff, who wrote speeches for President Carter, said Clinton's lecture tours might not be quite so lucrative for a while.
"The money won't be quite as easy," he said. "I do think all his problems will have an effect, but it will be temporary."
Still, Clinton's agency said that in one day last week, he received booking requests from a New York e-commerce company, a Danish media firm, a town hall in Puerto Rico and groups in California, Monte Carlo and Michigan. A fund-raiser for a medical facility in Hamilton, Ontario, sold out in a day, leaving 800 Canadians on a waiting list willing to pay $200 each to hear the former U.S. president.
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