Clinton: Campaigns Should Be Civil

Friday, May 19th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — President Clinton appealed Friday to Democrats and Republicans to avoid ``a mean election'' this fall, saying the philosophical differences between the parties on taxes, foreign policy, health care and crime are vast, but honest.

In a luncheon fund-raiser for Democratic congressional candidates, Clinton cited a list of issues where he believed the Democrats had the right position over the past seven years. Then he listed several issues that may play out on the campaign trail this year — and why he thinks the GOP's positions on them are wrong.

On crime: ``Their policy is, I have to drag them kicking and screaming to get any more for police.''

On Medicare: ``They say our program is too costly. We say theirs doesn't really do the job.''

On a nuclear test ban treaty: ``They believe it's an anachronistic document.''

On tax cuts and economic growth: ``There's a huge difference here. It cannot be papered over. Do we think this economic policy is on automatic and you couldn't mess it up if you tried? I can tell you, I don't believe that.''

Then, he said, there are ``massive differences'' on environmental policy and health care, ``huge differences'' on hate crimes and a minimum wage increase.

``It's not a personal attack,'' Clinton said. ``I'm saying we have honest differences. The divides between us, I think, are clear and I believe we're right.''

There was one area where Clinton saw agreement: a tax credit for long-term care. ``There is a chance that we'll reach a bipartisan agreement,'' he said. ``If so, I'll be thankful for it. It's a good thing to do.''

Clinton stated the expected, that he believes Vice President Al Gore will defeat Texas Gov. George W. Bush in the race for the White House, and Democrats will regain control of Congress for the first time since 1994.

``We have a chance to change control of the House of Representatives with a shift of just five seats,'' he said. ``We have a chance, believe it or not, to be evened up or even to be one ahead in the United States Senate.''

Whatever the outcome, Clinton said, the elections should be won fairly, with civility.

``What I hope will happen is that we will not have a mean election. We don't have to say they are bad people,'' Clinton said. ``We should assume we have two honorable people running for president, honorable people running for Congress. We intend to do what we say, they intend to do what they say. And you need to say, 'Where are the differences and what are the consequences?'''

Afterward, Clinton visited the Mayer Sulzberger Middle School to announce $185 million in grants to fund after-school and summer school programs at 900 schools nationwide.

The president repeated his calls for Congress to take up his education reform package, which seeks funds for school repair and construction, hiring more teachers and stricter accountability for failing schools.

He stressed the importance of programs such as GEAR UP — Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs — to help more young people attend college. Through GEAR UP, passed by Congress in 1998, middle schools in poor neighborhoods set up partnerships with colleges, community groups and businesses to encourage children to begin preparing for college at an earlier age.

Clinton was introduced by Toya Doe, 12, a Sulzberger seventh-grader and GEAR UP participant who wants to become a teacher.

The GEAR UP event was wedged onto Clinton's schedule between the luncheon, which brought in $600,000 for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and a reception that raised $225,000 for Rep. Joe Hoeffel, D-Pa.

Later Friday, Clinton flew to Chicago for a dinner to raise $500,000 for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.