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Hillary Clinton or video games? One 11-year-old's choice

May 12, 2008 |  2:27 pm

As 11-year-old Dalton Hatfield set about selling his earthly possessions, his parents thought he was doing his part to help pay for a family vacation.

Bill Clinton has been campaigning throughout small towns in West Virginia on behalf of his wife Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and along the way he accepted a campaign contribution from 11-year-old Dalton Hatfield  Instead, he was doing his part to help his favored presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. And on Friday, the young fellow made news when he presented a stunned Bill Clinton with a check for $440.

The former president, according an Associated Press story on the occasion, "seemed to nearly come to tears" as he accepted the donation at a fire station in Williamson, W.Va. (one of the many off-the-beaten-path locales where he has been rallying support for his wife).

The Hillary Clinton campaign, understandably, was so taken with the boy's gesture that today it posted the AP story on its website. Every little bit helps, after all, when it comes to erasing the $20-million debt that the campaign acknowledged on Sunday.

Killjoys that we are, we checked federal regulations just to make sure everything was on the up-and-up with Hatfield's contribution. And we are relieved to report ...

that it passes muster.

The key, according to the law, is that the "decision to contribute is made knowingly and voluntarily by the Minor" and that the "funds, goods, or services contributed are owned or controlled by the Minor."

Hatfield generated his money, he told the AP, by peddling his video games (talk about commitment!), bicycle and anything else "I could make money with.''

It's just as well he didn't cast his lot with Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential race; otherwise, his initiative might have been squelched. The Times' resident expert on campaign finances, reporter Dan Morain, reminded us that on its fundraising pitches, Obama's campaign says it will not take money from federally registered lobbyists, political action committees and those under the age of 16.

We could be hearing more from Hatfield, who's from the Appalachian town of McAndrews, Ky. (close to the border with West Virginia). He says that after becoming a lawyer, "I want to be governor or a senator, then president."

As thrilled as the Clinton camp is by the lad's generosity, there is one possible downside to it. Given the history of the region he hails from, we came only assume an onslaught of McCoy money is headed Obama's way.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Associated Press

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