Bob Kerrey claims his presidential bid is a mission Neb. senator reaching out to younger voters.

October 01, 1991|By Chicago Tribune

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Sen. Bob Kerrey is reaching out to voters born after World War II and tempered by the experience of the Vietnam War in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"I want to lead America's fearless, restless voyage of generational progress," Kerrey told a crowd of several thousand supporters yesterday at Lincoln's Centennial Mall Park.

Kerrey, 48, sounded an increasingly familiar theme among Democratic hopefuls like Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin and Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton.

"I am repeatedly drawn to the difference between the world I inherited as a young man," Kerrey said, "and the world I am preparing to pass on to my children." He said it was time "for leadership in America that focuses its attention on posterity rather than popularity, on the next generation, rather than the next election."

While crediting President Bush for "taking the first concrete step beyond the Cold War," with his unilateral offer of nuclear-arms reduction last week, Kerrey lashed out at the administration for abandoning domestic policy.

More than any other Democrat thus far, Kerrey couched his effort in terms of a mission.

"I believe Americans know deep in their bones that something is terribly wrong and that business as usual -- the prescription for the '80s -- cannot work for the future," he said.

"In our hearts, we all know that the unchecked selfishness and greed that dominated the policies of the '80s has taken its toll on the nation. Our enthusiasm for the dream . . . has been cooled by leaders who betrayed our trust."

Kerrey enlisted in the Navy after college. Trained in the Navy's Sea/Air/Land (SEAL) unit, he lost the lower portion of his right leg under fire in Vietnam in 1969, and won the Medal of Honor for his service.

"He can be the unifying candidate," said U.S. Rep. Tim Penny, D-Minn., an early Kerrey backer.

"We have candidates like Harkin who can beat on Bush and candidates like Bill Clinton who have wonderful domestic ideas. But Kerrey has the foreign-policy profile, and he doesn't come out of any one single faction of the party."

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