For Bill Clinton, FOB Magaziner trumps past Caprio support

Aug 6, 2014

In December, 1991 Bill Clinton swooped into Providence for a University Club fund-raiser for his nascent presidential campaign. He arrived at Green Airport in a small  private plane and was met by former Providence Mayor Joseph Paolino, Suzanne Magaziner and her young son.

As Clinton got off the plane, he reached out and patted the young boy on the head. ``Hey Seth, how areyah?, said the Arkansas governor in the drawl that would become known around the world after his 1992 election as president.

Twenty three years later, Clinton is heading back to Rhode Island, this time as a former president, to speak at an August 27th rally for that same kid he greeted at the airport: Seth Magaziner. Magaziner is now running in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary for his party’s nomination as state general treasurer. (Thanks to WPRI's Ted Nesi for finally getting the Magaziner camp to acknowledge this; Seth Magaziner recently duicked this question when asked by RIPR).

In one of those grand ironies of Rhode Island’s cozy political culture, Magaziner is running against Frank Caprio, the former state treasurer and unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor in 2010. (Linc Chafee, running as an independent, won that election after Caprio’s infamous ``shove it’’ diss of President Barack Obama).

In 2010, Clinton was a strong supporter of Frank Caprio, coming to Rhode Island to campaign for him even after Caprio bashed the president who hired Clinton’s wife, Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state. Clinton was supporting  Caprio, whose family members and such close allies as Paolino and super Democratic fund-raiser Mark Weiner, were big supporters of both Bill and Hillary Clinton.

But that was then. Now, it appears that FOB (Friend of Bill) status is thicker than political support and harvesting campaign cash. One of Clinton’s biggest FOB’s over the years is Ira Magaziner, of Bristol, who has been a stalwart Clinton buddy since their days together as Rhodes Scholars at Oxford University during the Vietnam War era. Ira Magaziner is  of course, Seth’s dad.

Magaziner  served in the Clinton White House, most famously as a prime architect of the ill-fated 1993 national health care overhaul. Since, Magaziner has gone on to hold major positions with the Clinton Foundation, as well as advise Hillary Clinton.  Clinton is obviously closer to the Magaziner than to the Caprios.