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Clinton Says Democrats Need Nonpartisan Election Appeals

September 27, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton’s offering this advice to his fellow Democrats intent on retaking control of Congress: ``Don’t make a party argument for this election, make a people argument.″

Speaking to a packed Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee dinner Thursday night, the president helped raise $3 million toward the cause.

While he preached a nonpartisan strategy to win back Congress from Republicans, Clinton couldn’t help but take a jab at the opposition, saying Democratic candidates should not stand still for the GOP’s efforts to portray all federal government programs as useless and wasteful.

``We do not believe it is responsible to stand up and say the government is somehow inherently bad,″ Clinton said.

The strong U.S. economy also will help Democrats on Election Day, the president said. ``We have the evidence on our side.″

As proof, Clinton noted Thursday’s Census Bureau report that the poverty rate in 1995 took the steepest dive in more than a decade and that the number of people in poverty fell by the largest amount in 27 years.

Today, the Clinton campaign released a new ad promoting his economic record and questioning Dole’s ``risky tax scheme.″ It reminded voters that ``Republicans call him tax collector for the welfare state″ _ a barb House Speaker Newt Gingrich threw Dole’s way back in 1984.

The dinner honored eight retiring Democratic senators: Sam Nunn of Georgia, Clairborne Pell of Rhode Island, Bill Bradley of New Jersey, James Exon of Nebraska, Howell Heflin of Alabama, J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana, Paul Simon of Illinois and David Pryor of Clinton’s homestate, Arkansas.

``They have served their nation well and I will miss them all,″ Clinton said.

Also in attendance among the 1,200 guests were 12 Democrats running for Republican-held Senate seats and seven incumbents up for re-election.

``They have a lot hurdles to overcome and a lot of rain to walk through to get to the sunshine on Election Day,″ Clinton said.

Clinton also attended a closed fund-raising dinner of the Democratic National Committee’s African-American Leadership Council Thursday night.

Democratic party congressional leaders recently appealed to Harold Ickes, Clinton’s top political aide, to help with fund raising. As his prospects for winning re-election have appeared to improve, Clinton has made more direct arguments for sending more Democrats to Congress.

During a planned campaign swing through Texas today, for example, Clinton is set to plug the candidacies of Democratic congressional candidates.

Still, Clinton has tried to be careful not to put too hard a partisan edge to his pleas for Democratic candidates.

``He believes you don’t make an appeal to the American people solely on the basis of partisanship,″ White House spokesman Mike McCurry told reporters. ``The best way to make that appeal is not to say vote for Democrats just because they’re Democrats; vote for them because they share this exciting agenda for the 21st Century that the president is laying before the American people.″

Democrats need to gain 19 seats to retake control of the House and four seats for a Senate majority. The Republican Party has a fund-raising edge, however. Many Republican incumbents who are considered vulnerable have large financial advantages over their Democratic challengers.

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