PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Hillary Clinton took a break from the presidential campaign on Tuesday to attend the funeral in Rhode Island of her longtime friend, Mark Weiner, a major Democratic donor and fundraiser.
Former President Bill Clinton delivered the eulogy, saying he was there to represent the “much despised and maligned political class, those of us who wouldn’t have gotten as far in life — and certainly wouldn’t have had half as much fun — if it hadn’t been for Mark Weiner.”
Hillary Clinton didn’t speak at the funeral, but her husband remembered Weiner as “forever young, forever exuberant, always just a little too much.”
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Weiner provided campaign buttons and other merchandise to Democratic presidential campaigns since 1980 and held leadership positions throughout the party. He died last week at 62 after a yearslong battle with cancer. He was preparing to travel to the Democratic National Convention to hear Bill Clinton speak when he died.
The crowd at his funeral was filled with Democratic players that also included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, former national security adviser Tom Donilon and veteran political consultants James Carville, Paul Begala and Tad Devine. Other attendees included Hollywood producer Steve Bing, the former president of baseball’s National League, Leonard Coleman Jr., and drummer Max Weinberg.
Weiner became close friends with the Clintons in 1976, when he worked with Hillary Clinton on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. He worked on every presidential campaign since that year.
Bill Clinton told mourners that Weiner was a fierce competitor in business and politics. He said Weiner would do anything for his friends, but also performed kindnesses for strangers. Weiner would give someone a tip for seating him in an empty restaurant, he said. Clinton remembered the fun of playing endless rounds of the card game Oh Hell! with Weiner during trips together all over the world.
Joseph Paolino, the former ambassador to Malta, said during his remarks that Weiner could not wait to see Hillary Clinton become the first woman nominated as a major party’s presidential candidate.
Addressing Hillary Clinton, who sat in the front row, he said that Weiner had recently been fitted for a tuxedo “because he wanted to dance with you at the inaugural ball.”
The Clintons departed with the family. Hillary Clinton appeared upset and nodded to people as she left, out of the view of cameras.
Devine, a senior adviser to the Bernie Sanders’ campaign, went to high school with Weiner and Donilon. Weiner was manager of the basketball team.
“He was a unique, one-of-a-kind guy,” Devine said before the service.
Jackson first met Weiner during his 1984 run for president. Later, Weiner became a founding board member of Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH coalition.
“Mark was a giver, a selfless giver,” Jackson said before the funeral. “He built the infrastructure of the Democratic Party, in many ways.”Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.