GREENBELT -- Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton told an audience of political insiders here last night that "radical change" will be necessary to save the "American Dream" and that the Democratic Party must become the party of "personal responsibility."
Traveling the nation for the last five months as he decides whether to run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Mr. Clinton said he finds Americans "profoundly worried about the direction of the country."
"Most people don't expect miracles," he said. "What people are almost aching for is someone who has some idea of what we should do."
In Arkansas, where he has been governor for five two-year terms, he said, parents can be fined if they miss meetings called to discuss the school performance of their children. Students can lose their driver's licenses if they drop out of school.
When unmarried women give birth, he said, special efforts should be made to learn the name of the father. And if blood tests show that the person named by the mother is, in fact, the father, special efforts should be made to collect child support.
"There is a limit to what government can do until people take responsibility for themselves," said Mr. Clinton, who is chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, a group formed to moderate the party's liberal image.
At the same time, Mr. Clinton said, the Democratic Party has a special responsibility to make government work. "If we're going to be the party of government solutions, government has to be effective, he said.
Mr. Clinton said recent events in the Soviet Union demonstrate clearly that a country can be threatened gravely from within. The United States, he said, faces severe challenges in a health care system that costs more and provides less than those of many industrialized countries. The system of public education is also in need of fundamental overhaul, he said.
The 45-year-old governor was chauffeured to the rally at Martin's East Wind by Nathan Landow, the Maryland Democratic Party chairman. Governor Clinton was introduced to an audience of several hundred elected party officials from many parts of the state by Representative Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.-5th. Neither Mr. Landow nor Mr. Hoyer said they were endorsing Mr. Clinton at this time.
Mr. Clinton said he will make clear by the end of this month whether he will enter the race for his party's nomination.