Lazio, Clinton Seem To Reach Deal

Sunday, September 24th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — Rep. Rick Lazio and Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared to have reached a deal late Saturday banning the use of so-called soft money advertising from the New York Senate race.

``I think the two sides have come to a close enough point that we effectively have a deal,'' said Clinton's campaign manager, Bill de Blasio.

Lazio told reporters, ``It appears that we have an agreement, based on what I am hearing what Mrs. Clinton said.''

Soft money refers to the unlimited funds collected by political parties. While hard money contributions, limited to $2,000 per donor, can be used for ads that advocate voting for or against a candidate, soft money can only be used to advocate an issue, boost a candidate or attack a candidate.

The verbal agreements came after a day of public back-and-forth, and about a week and a half after Lazio sprung his version of a soft money ban on Clinton during their first televised debate and demanded she sign it on the spot. Clinton refused and later called Lazio's action a stunt.

Clinton said Saturday that the Democratic party had agreed to stop running ads on her behalf if Republicans promised to cease paying for commercials boosting Lazio. She said she would urge independent groups who support her to refrain from running radio and television commercials and asked that Lazio do the same.

Lazio said he had secured promises from Republicans in New York and Washington to stop spending money on ads for him. He said he hoped soft money ads would be off the air by Monday, Clinton said the Democrats would stop running their commercials on Wednesday.

Any violation of the agreement would result in a proportionate response — if a group on one side released a $100,000 ad, the other side could respond with a $100,000 ad of their own, de Blasio said.

The tentative agreement appeared to cover spending by political parties but not by outside organizations.

Clinton and Lazio both emphasized that any agreement would cover only soft money spending for radio and TV commercials, not direct mail or get-out-the-vote efforts.

``Let's focus on what we know we can hear and see,'' Clinton said.

Should soft money be banned, Lazio could have an advantage: The latest federal filings showed his campaign had more hard money than Clinton's, $10.2 million to $7.1 million.