LOS ANGELES — President Clinton predicted Sunday that Democrats could win a slim majority in the House but still will have to get along with the Republicans.
“There will be an effort for bipartisan cooperation no matter what happens in the next election, because if we win the majority it won’t be so big that we won’t have to work with them,” Clinton said.
The president spoke at a fund-raiser for Rep. Lois Capps, a Santa Barbara Democrat targeted by the GOP this year. The event was expected to raise an estimated $200,000.
A swing of just six seats in the Republicans’ current 222-211 majority could return the House to Democratic control for the first time since 1994.
Clinton was making the rounds of two swing districts in California this weekend.
The Capps stop followed a Saturday visit to San Jose to help Democratic hopeful Mike Honda raise an estimated $500,000.
At Sunday’s event, Clinton offered only cautious hope for a Democratic majority in the Senate, where the Republican majority is 54-46.
“We might even win the Senate back, but if we do it will just be by a seat or so,” Clinton said. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton hopes to hold on to the Democratic Senate seat now occupied by retiring New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
The Capps fund-raiser marked the 139th time this year that Clinton has headlined campaign events for congressional Democrats – a fund-raising record for a president.
On Saturday night, Clinton brought in an estimated $4.4 million for House Democrats at a lavish affair in the exclusive Brentwood section of Los Angeles.
Pausing along the lucrative weekend hunt for campaign cash among Hollywood moguls and Silicon Valley dot-com wealth, Clinton also announced expansion of the federal scenic protected area around Big Sur.
The Forest Service paid $4.5 million for 784 acres at the southern entrance to the protected forest land around Big Sur, where spectacular views of ocean ringed by towering cliffs draw millions of tourists every year.
The parcel around San Carpoforo Creek will be added to the 1.75-million-acre Los Padres National Forest in central California.
The new land is tiny by comparison to the vast acreage already under federal protection around Big Sur but carries large symbolic value.
It represents one of Clinton’s last opportunities to expand his environmental legacy and an opportunity to confer further environmental and conservation bona fides to Vice President Al Gore.
“The work we have done on conservation is among the things I’m most proud of today,” Clinton told the California chapter of the League of Conservation Voters. The national nonprofit environmental group that recently endorsed Gore for president
Clinton said he and Gore have tried to further the conservation legacy that President Theodore Roosevelt began nearly a century ago.
“For more than seven years now, Al Gore and I have fought to do that, most of the time with a Congress that was very hostile to our environmental objectives,” Clinton said.
Both Gore and his GOP presidential rival, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, want to pocket California and its 54 electoral votes — a fifth of the 270 needed for the presidency. On Monday, Bush is to begin a five-day West Coast campaign swing that includes California.
The money for the latest expansion comes from Clinton’s 2000 land conservation budget, a pot of about $650 million that was the subject of a long partisan struggle in Congress.
Through two terms, Clinton has secured stronger protection for tens of millions of acres of scenic or threatened land and frequently angered Republicans in the process.
In April, Clinton set aside 355,000 acres to protect ancient groves of giant sequoias. Clinton made the trees a protected monument under the 1906 Antiquities Act, which allows presidents to safeguard, without congressional approval, objects of historic and scientific interest.