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Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush cancel local joint appearance

November 7, 2009 |  1:16 pm

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush today abruptly pulled out of a joint appearance scheduled for this winter in Los Angeles after growing unhappy with the way the event was being promoted.

The two canceled a similar appearance in New York City this week.

"We canceled the event because of a violation of contract and a promoter who insisted on billing it as something it wasn't," said Matt McKenna, a spokesman for Clinton. David Sherzer, a spokesman for Bush, also confirmed the event was off.

McKenna said the forum was never intended to be a clash between the 42nd and 43rd presidents -- "the hottest ticket in political history," a news released called it -- but rather a moderated panel discussion.

"It's unfortunate that an overeager promoter ruined the opportunity to hear a serious discussion of the issues between two former presidents who have a great deal of respect for each other," McKenna said.

Officials of the promotion company, hired by New York's Madison Square Garden, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Democrat Clinton, who beat Bush's father in 1992 to win the presidency, and Republican Bush, who succeeded Clinton after defeating his vice president, Al Gore, in 2000, appeared together at an hourlong forum in Toronto in May.

The two were set to appear Feb. 22 at University City's Gibson Amphitheatre as part of the American Jewish University's public lecture series. The appearance was announced in August, with tickets set to go on sale this week. Prices ranged from $75 to $125.

A second appearance was scheduled for Feb. 25 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, with tickets ranging from $60 to $160.

McKenna would not discuss the fee passed up by the two former presidents, but they reportedly received $150,000 apiece for their Toronto appearance. McKenna said money was not a consideration in their decision in to cancel the events.

-- Mark Z. Barabak