Aide is a long time friend of Clinton

 

SANDY Berger (51) has a long and trusting relationship with President Clinton going back to the George McGovern presidential campaign on which they both worked in 1972. Few other senior aides in the White House have that kind of "Friends of Bill" pedigree.

"We have known each other since we were about half our present age," the President said as he affectionately hugged Berger on the day of his appointment. One cannot imagine him hugging the more aloof Tony Lake.

Berger went on to pursue a successful legal career in Washington specialising in international trade while Clinton headed for Arkansas, but they kept contact. Berger urged Clinton to run for President in 1987, and when he did take the plunge in 1991 Berger was his foreign policy adviser.

Berger, who is married with three children, left his legal firm of Hogan & Hartson for a stint in the State Department under President Carter. His wide ranging contacts in the foreign affairs milieu resulted in him helping Clinton to recruit Lake and Madeleine Albright.

He is also said to have advised Pamela Harriman during her Democratic hostess days in Georgetown and smoothed the way with Clinton for her appointment to the prestigious Paris embassy.

In between he found time to write a book on American rural politics called Dollar Harvest.

Berger was born into a Jewish family in upstate New York where his father was a small town merchant. He graduated from Cornell in 1967 and from Harvard with a law degree in 1971.

Berger is admired for his ability to get along with people and for reaching consensus. But he has a reputation as a workaholic in the White House where he works "from dawn to dawn all the time" according to colleagues.