Jackson Exhorts Clinton To Watch Out for the Downtrodden
NEW YORK (AP) _ Jesse Jackson, who has seen his influence diminish within the Democratic Party, offered support for Bill Clinton Tuesday, telling convention delegates the ″hopes of many″ ride on his campaign for the White House.
″President Bill Clinton,″ Jackson told the convention on its second night. ″You have survived a tough spring. It will make you stronger for the fall.
″With your stripes, you must heal and make us better. The hopes of many depend upon your quest,″ he said. ″Be comforted that you do not stand alone.″
Jackson, a two-time presidential candidate whose presence dominated the past two Democratic conventions, came into this one with diminished influence.
Clinton, the presidential nominee to be, has avoided a high-visibility meeting with the black leader this time. In his selection of Al Gore as a running mate, Clinton reached to his party’s center rather than Jackson’s liberal wing.
Jackson offered support for this year’s Democratic ticket in his speech to a crowded Madison Square Garden, but turned quickly to his familiar themes of economic and social justice.
″As for the Rainbow Coalition,″ Jackson said in a reference to his grasso-roots organization, ″we will continue to build a movement for economic justice in this land. ... We will join in defeating George Bush in the fall - that is a necessary first step.″
Jackson credited Gore, the Tennessee senator whose selection by Clinton last week provoked him to say the ticket was too narrowly focused.
″Vice President Al Gore comes to this task tested and prepared,″ Jackson said.
He called Gore an environmental leader, supporter of social justice and an original sponsor of legislation to make Washington, D.C. a state with full representation in Congress.
″I for one look forward to the vice presidential debate″ between Gore and Vice President Dan Quayle, he said.
Jackson’s appearance elicited strong reaction from some delegates.
″I’ve got tears in my eyes. I can’t talk anymore. I want to cry,″ said Jim Franklin, 50, a California delegate.
Talben Pope, 30, a Clinton delegate from Shreveport, La., said: ″Jesse represents the unity the party needs. ... It wasn’t just for black people. It was for everyone.″
Jackson said that rather than debating whether the party should appeal to its liberal base or try to win back more conservative voters, Democrats must ″reach out to those in despair and those who care, reach across the lines that divide by race, region or religion.″
Jackson ended his speech with a vibrant repetition of his trademark rhetorical line: ″Keep hope alive.″
And he began his speech with a play on that line, referring to Clinton’s tiny hometown near Arkansas’ Red River.
″Now that it looks like you’re going to win the race in November, people are already lined up outside your hotel to get a job or appointment,″ Jackson said. ″Just remember when you get to the White House, I put Hope, Arkansas on the map by saying, ‘Keep Hope, Arkansas alive,’ all over America.″
Jackson urged more investment in America’s cities, crediting Clinton’s plan for economic investment in domestic America and his own plan for using public and private pension funds, with government guarantees.