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Clintons attract a crowd; Dean rocks

FRIENDS OF THE CLINTONS A whole lot of friends of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton gathered in the State Room on the 33d floor of 60 State St. last night. What was intended to be a quiet dinner with a couple of hundred friends hosted by philanthropists Gerald and Elaine Schuster turned into a bursting-at-the-seams party with 1,200 people. Seafood and champagne .owed, and everyone left with a copy of the former president’s memoir, ‘‘My Life.’’ Guests included former vice president Walter Mondale, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Congressman Marty Meehan, former FAA administrator Jane Garvey, former cohost of ‘‘The View’’ Lisa Ling, recalled California governor Gray Davis, and playwright and actress Anna Deavere Smith. Guests began to gather around 7:30, and the Clintons didn’t arrive for another two hours. Hillary entered first, followed by Bill, with their daughter, Chelsea, right behind. Over the roar of the crowd, Hillary introduced her husband as ‘‘the man who taught the Democrats how to win again.’’ Bill replied in kind: ‘‘I should be introducing Hillary, not the other way around. She’s the only one who can do anything for you.’’ He urged the Democrats on in their effort to win back the White House—and he alluded to the 2000 chaos in Florida. ‘‘We can’t let this election go unchallenged,’’ he said. ‘‘We can’t let any vote go uncounted.’’

CLUB HOPPING MTV’s Rock the Vote campaign drew a packed house of young voters, delegates, and celebrities into Avalon late last night in a party called ‘‘The Jumpoff.’’ Former Vermont governor and Kerry rival Howard Dean whipped up the crowd at the outset: ‘‘The real power in this country is held by you, and that’s what this election is about. You have the power to change America.’’ TV talk-show host Jerry Springer, who’s an Ohio delegate, came out swinging against the Bush-Cheney White House. ‘‘No group is more victimized by this administration’s policies than the young people,’’ Springer said. The crowd, of course, chanted, ‘‘Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!’’ Bostonbased rock band Mission of Burma played a 30-minute set, and hip-hop artist Biz Markie rapped ‘‘The Big Payback’’ onstage with the Rev. Al Sharpton. Other speakers included ‘‘Joan of Arcadia’’ star Amber Tamblyn; Kerry’s daughters, Alexandra and Vanessa; John Edwards’s daughter Catharine; and actress and recent Harvard grad Natalie Portman, who promised to dance with everyone in the crowd. Ben Affleck, Everclear singer and Oregon delegate Art Alexakis, Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy, and actor Corey Feldman were seen in the VIP area. Rock the Vote president Jehmu Greene announced that the MTV campaign has registered 400,000 voters so far this year.

WOOING VOTERS Go ahead and ask Ben Affleck about the war or public education, but you might make him uncomfortable if you ask him about marriage -- even between same-sex couples. "Marriage -- I'm really -- I mean -- I say, `Gay people, knock yourselves out. If you want to get married, get married,' " Affleck said during Comcast's "The Power of 1: Decision 2008" event yesterday at the Charles Hotel. Affleck joined fellow actor Danny Glover and Cambridge vice mayor Marjorie Decker at a forum aimed at energizing young voters. The moderator was comedian D.L. Hughley, who was not only funny but had an opinion on every subject that came up. The audience included 200 high school students, mostly from Cambridge. Affleck called gay marriage a wedge issue "being used by this administration to divide the country." Also on the panel were "Joan of Arcadia" star Amber Tamblyn and MTV news correspondent Gideon Yago. "Most young people don't realize they have the right to change their future," Tamblyn said. "Some people think it's more important to go buy yourself a Gucci bag than to go vote."

MOMENTS LATER. . . Former President Bill Clinton wanted to address the crowd at a cocktail reception following "The Power of 1," but the Secret Service wouldn't let him. Clinton entered the Regattabar in the Charles Hotel and was immediately whisked behind the bar because so many people gathered around him. . . . Outside the hotel, Citizens Financial Group executive VP Heather Campion and Charles Hotel owner Dick Friedman greeted New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Also spotted at the hotel were former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Clinton adviser David Gergen.THE POPULAR VOTE Speaking of the former first lady, Senator Clinton won wild applause at the World Trade Center yesterday when she said picking a president isn't a popularity contest. Addressing a crowd of Jewish leaders, she said, "People used to say, `Who would you rather have a beer with?' If that was ever true, it isn't this year.' " Sounding sharp and looking rested, at least for now, Clinton spoke for 10 minutes, following House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senator Joe Lieberman to the podium. In the crowd were Kerry's brother Cam, former Clinton communications director Ann Lewis, New York AG Elliot Spitzer, Massachusetts AG Tom Reilly, and hizzoner Tom Menino, who said his day planner's not full yet. "I pick and choose what I do," he said. "I'm in charge."

CHOICE WORDS Hers is not a familiar name, but in Lakes County, Ind., in the 1800s, Candi Larson's great-grandfather Bartlett Woods helped establish the Republican Party. So what's she doing at the Democratic National Convention, and at a Planned Parenthood gathering no less, cheering on Ms. magazine founder Gloria Steinem? "The pro-choice issue," Larson explained yesterday. "I only changed my party last year. The Republicans are about control and domination, and that's not me." Steinem, by the way, is still lovely at 70, and as committed as ever to the Democratic party. Speaking about the president's health policies, she said, "Bush causes cancer."

VP AND VIPS About 60 people attended a private party last night at the Boston Harbor Hotel hosted by Al and Tipper Gore. The former vice president briefly addressed the crowd, which included The New Republic publisher and editor in chief Martin Peretz, former Recording Industry Association of America president Hilary Rosen, and Democratic fund-raiser Alan Solomont.

PARTY FOR THE RIGHTS Some 400 people attended a party at the law office Goulston & Storrs sponsored by the Stonewall Democrats, a gay-rights group. Senator Barney Frank encouraged the guests to continue what he called "our fight against homophobia," noting that it was 32 years ago that he filed his gay rights bill, an attempt to get the Massachusetts legislature to repeal a law making sodomy illegal. "We lost, 220 to 11," he said. Andre Heinz, son of Teresa Heinz Kerry, made a surprise appearance. Other guests included Democratic National Committee treasurer Andrew Tobias, Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, Providence mayor David Cicilline, and several openly gay Democrats seeking political office this fall.

ROCKING THE VOTES Oregon delegate Art Alexakis, lead singer for the punk-rock band Everclear, was being trailed nonstop all day by a film crew for VH1. . . . Jazz singer Kurt Elling, an Illinois delegate, sat in with the Manny Santos Trio at his delegation party yesterday at the Institute of Contemporary Art.

TAKE THEM OUT TO THE BALLGAME A group that included NBC and MSNBC news guys Tom Brokaw, Tim Russert, and Mike Barnicle headed to the Baseball Tavern last night after the game between the Sox and Yanks. Russert was looking for a blue-collar baseball pub for the group, which also included lawyer Dennis Quilty and Joe Dunne, who owns pubs around town including Lir and McGann's. They planned to have dinner at Davio's. The Baseball Tavern, coincidentally, is named best dive bar in the new issue of Boston Magazine, which hits stands today.

BREAKING FAST A breakfast hosted yesterday by Alan and Susan Solomont at their home in the western 'burbs was a gathering of John Kerry supporters. Among the 150 folks at the event were a Bermuda-shorts-clad Bob Farmer (counsel general to Bermuda under Clinton), New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (who rushed over after appearing on "Face the Nation"), Congressman Ed Markey, State Senator Mark Pacheco, and Cam Kerry, who was given a giant banner emblazoned with "Cam Kerry for First Brother."

CAMERA SHY Showbiz legend Little Richard will not be taken advantage of. Unhappy that his heavily pancaked face was projected on a big screen at Saturday night's media party, the rock 'n' roll great threatened to walk off stage unless a videographer stopped shooting his performance. . . . Spotted schmoozing at the kickoff party were US News & World Report publisher Mort Zuckerman, DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, and conservative commentator Ann Coulter, whose disdain for the media was not sufficient to keep her away. "The drinks are excellent," she said, "but too many journalists."

KISSING UP Liberal chatterbox Al Franken, wearing a hooded Harvard sweatshirt, greeted bird-of-a-feather Arianna Huffington with big smoochy kisses -- three of them -- at the Salon party Saturday at Harvard. Among the attendees were San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Democratic strategist James Carville.

Linda Matchan and Joan Anderman of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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