Sunday, August 2, 2015

Bill Clinton's unlikely visit

Former President Clinton spoke at a memorial service for Richard Mellon Scaife, proving once again how odd politics can be.

Bill Clinton's unlikely visit

Former president Bill Clinton greets Trib Total Media employees after speaking at Penguin Court in Ligonier in honor of Trib Total Media publisher Richard Mellon Scaife on Saturday, August 2, 2014.
Former president Bill Clinton greets Trib Total Media employees after speaking at Penguin Court in Ligonier in honor of Trib Total Media publisher Richard Mellon Scaife on Saturday, August 2, 2014. Stephanie Strasburg | TRIB TOTAL, Staff

Not sure if you saw this. Seems to me it wasn't widely reported. It's an example of how odd politics can be.

Former President Bill Clinton last Saturday attended and spoke at a memorial service for one-time enemy billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife.

The service was held for employees of Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review at the site of Scaife's boyhood home in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania.

Scaife died July 4, one day after his 82nd birthday. He was heir to the Mellon banking fortune.

You can see his The New York Times obit here.

"If someone had asked me the day I left the White House what's the single most unlikely thing I would ever do, this would rank high on the list," Clinton said during the Saturday service.

You may recall the very conservative Scaife was known for, among other things, stern opposition to Clinton as president and was considered a leader of what Hillary Clinton once called a "vast right-wing conspiracy" organized against her husband.

Yet after Clinton left office, former New York Mayor Ed Koch put Clinton and Scaife together and Scaife ended up donating to Clinton's foundation.

"I think the counterintuitive friendship we formed is a good symbol of Richard Mellon Scaife's legacy," Clinton said during his remarks, "He fought as hard as he could for what he believed, but he never thought he had to be blind or deaf" to rethinking his positions.

Scaife's newspaper endorsed Hillary in the 2008 presidential primary against Barack Obama.

Tribune-Review reporter/columnist Brad Bumsted, who attended the service, said Clinton spoke for about 30 minutes then spent at least that much time talking with reporters and editors who worked for Scaife.

You can read Tribune-Review coverage of the event here.


Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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