Rights activist announces bid for presidency A. Robert Kaufman decries 'moneyed elite'

December 14, 1991|By C. Fraser Smith

Maryland will have at least one favorite son in next year's presidential primary.

Offering himself primarily as an opponent to former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke, A. Robert Kaufman of Baltimore announced his candidacy yesterday.

The 61-year-old veteran of many causes and candidacies said his name will go on the March 3 primary ballot as a Democrat if the secretary of state, Winfield M. Kelly, concludes that he is a serious candidate. Otherwise, Mr. Kaufman said, he must qualify by gathering 2,000 signatures, 400 in each of the state's eight congressional districts.

Mr. Kaufman made his announcement at a news conference yesterday at the Holocaust Memorial on Lombard Street in downtown Baltimore.

The Republican David Duke, he said, has adroitly converted desperate economic conditions into a backdrop for scapegoating blacks, Jews, gays, liberals, communists, foreigners and even the poor.

Mr. Kaufman said candidates such as Mr. Duke, who made a strong bid to become governor of Louisiana recently, play upon the fears of voters but fail to attack the real perpetrators of the country's problems, the monied elite.

"The financial establishment," he said, "has extracted wealth from generations of underpaid working people as well as the money Americans put in their care through bank deposits, insurance premiums and pension funds."

One-half percent of the U.S. population, he said, citing a 1986 study by the federal Joint Economic Commission, owns 35.1 percent of the nation's wealth. The financial ruling class, he said, has failed to invest its profits so that higher paying jobs will be created. Instead, Mr. Kaufman says, "the ruling class" wastes the national treasure by "gambling it away in leveraged buyouts, hostile takeovers, speculative commercial real estate ventures and junk bonds."

What he called "the usual array" of Republican and Democratic candidates are too beholden to the monied interests to raise the basic issues.

A longtime civil rights and anti-war activist in Baltimore, Mr. Kaufman is president of the City Wide Insurance Coalition, an organization struggling to create a publicly owned, non-profit automobile insurance company. He ran for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat in 1986 and 1988. This is his first bid for the presidency.

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