NEWS- It's show time: Grisham to chat up Hillary at fundraiser
The 2008 presidential campaign comes to Charlottesville next month when best-selling author John Grisham hosts a conversation with presidential contender Hillary Clinton.
"We go way back," says Grisham of his association with former President Bill Clinton and his wife. "We met the Clintons 15 years ago when they were in the White House for a screening of The Pelican Brief."
Although the Grishams did not spend the night in the Lincoln Bedroom, "It was a lot of fun," says the author.
While the 2008 presidential campaign is more than a year away and at least eight Democratic candidates are running, the Grishams have already made up their minds. Why?
He says he's convinced that the Democratic candidate will win the election, and he believes that Clinton is the best candidate. "Renee was always on board," says Grisham of his wife, who ran into Clinton a couple of years ago at a fundraiser. "It was more gradual for me."
The Charlottesville event, scheduled for September 23 at 5pm in the Paramount Theater, could be a hot ticket, although it's one accessible to folks without deep pockets– if they act fast. General admission tickets are $50; students can get in for $25.
But there's plenty of opportunity for high-rollers to rub elbows with Clinton: also scheduled are a $1,000-a-ticket wine and cheese reception, and a $2,300/person private reception before the event.
The former trial lawyer says he hasn't done a whole lot of homework for his on-stage talk with the junior Senator from New York. "I hope we can make it lighter and have some fun," Grisham says. "We'll ask the audience to submit questions."
What not to expect: "We're not going to sit around and talk about healthcare and the war for 45 minutes," Grisham says. He wants the conversation to be more personal, with questions about Bill and Chelsea.
And will former President Clinton join his wife in Charlottesville, the place where he started his inauguration in 1993? Grisham doubts it, as the two primarily go their own ways in campaigning.
Hillary Rodham had a much earlier visit to Charlottesville in 1974, according to Carl Bernstein's A Woman in Charge, when she was en route to joining Bill in Arkansas. On that visit, she traveled in a Volkswagen with friend Sara Ehrman, who tried to dissuade her "brilliant and dazzling" friend from moving to become an assistant professor at a "hillbilly" law school.
The Volkswagen brought Rodham to Monticello and other historical sites, but the driver failed to keep the future First Lady from joining the faculty of the University of Arkansas– or marrying the future President of the United States.
This is not the first time Grisham has headlined a political fundraising event at the Paramount. In 2006, he and Stephen King took the stage to raise money for Jim Webb, who went on to narrowly defeat Senator George Allen.
According to Virginia Public Access Project, Grisham has contributed $345,000 to Democratic candidates since 1996. Could this support cloak a subconscious desire by the master novelist to get back into politics? After all, he served in the Mississippi state House of Representatives for seven years in the '80s.
"None whatsoever," declares Grisham. "This is the closest I'm going to get to politics. I was in the legislature 20 years ago and didn't really enjoy it."