Bill Clinton to address Ohio Dems at party dinner

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton plans to speak to fellow Democrats in Ohio as he helps raise money in one of the nation's top presidential battleground states.

About 2,350 people are expected to attend the Ohio Democratic Party party's annual state dinner on Friday night in Columbus, party officials said.

Clinton's visit comes as his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, weighs a second bid for the White House. The former secretary of state has been on a book tour this week that has attracted intense media attention and resembled the frenetic pace of a campaign kickoff.

Hillary Clinton won Ohio's Democratic primary in 2008 over eventual nominee, President Barack Obama. Her husband carried Ohio both times in his presidential elections.

The former president remains in heavy demand as a fundraiser and adviser. He also has been helping Democrats battle to keep their U.S. Senate majority and win other races.

The dinner is the state party's largest fundraising event, said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern. Asked how much the party would take in, he said, "A lot."

Democrats will need it going into the fall elections. Republican Gov. John Kasich has amassed a sizeable fundraising advantage over his Democratic challenger, Ed FitzGerald.

The first-term governor had banked $8.5 million, compared with the $1.5 million that FitzGerald had on hand this spring. The figures were from campaign finance reports filed in April, though updated numbers are expected on Friday.

Kasich also has been running ahead of FitzGerald in recent polls.

In a Quinnipiac University poll last month, Kasich led FitzGerald 50 percent to 35 percent while two out of three voters in Ohio said they didn't don't know enough about the Cuyahoga County executive to form an opinion of him.

Just over half of those surveyed gave Kasich a favorable mark on how he has handled the economy and jobs, which are the top two issues among voters, according to the poll. The survey of 1,174 Ohio voters was conducted by phone from May 7 to 12. It had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.