LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Bill Clinton and George W. Bush canceled a joint public lecture sponsored by the American Jewish University.
The former U.S. presidents were scheduled to appear together this winter in New York and Los Angeles.
The university believes that the cancellation of the Feb. 22 event at the Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal City rests on a misunderstanding and is working to reverse the presidential decisions. Tickets went on sale last week.
According to Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna, the two former presidents were offended by the way promoters handled publicity for the other joint appearance on Feb. 25 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
However, the arrangements and advance publicity for the Los Angeles event were handled independently of the New York organizers, American Jewish University President Robert Wexler said Sunday.
McKenna said Clinton was upset because the New York promoters advertised their forum as “the hottest ticket in political history,” implying a clash between the 42nd and 43rd chief executives rather than a moderated panel discussion.
“It’s unfortunate that an overeager promoter ruined the opportunity to hear a serious discussion on the issues between two former presidents, who have a great deal of respect for each other,” McKenna told the L.A. Times.
By contrast, the full-page ads for the Los Angeles event, placed in the local Jewish Journal by the university’s Whizin Center for Continuing Education, were low-key, reprinting the presidential inaugural oath and using such headlines as “One Unprecedented Night” and “The Wait Is Over.”
Wexler said he was notified of the cancellation last Friday.
“We arranged for the appearance of the two presidents independently through their respective speakers’ bureaus and made it clear we would conduct the moderated discussion on the highest level,” Wexler said.
“President Clinton has talked to us on two previous occasions, which were very successful,” he added. “We are hopeful that the decision will be reversed.”