Clinton attacks Democratic rivals Ark. governor targets Tsongas and Kerrey.

February 28, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton came out swinging at his Democratic rivals yesterday, accusing Paul E. Tsongas of advocating "trickle-down economics" and bringing in a Vietnam veteran to accuse Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey of being "AWOL" in the war on drugs.

At a speech at the Radisson Hotel in Denver in the morning, Mr. Clinton dismissed former Massachusetts Sen. Tsongas' economic proposals as smacking of "trickle-down economics." He mocked Mr. Tsongas' concern for investors and entrepreneurs, saying it comes at the expense of everyday workers.

"The problem is not on Wall Street, friends; it's on Main Street," Mr. Clinton said. "Franklin Roosevelt didn't get this country off its back by saying the only thing we have to fear is a lack of venture capital."

Referring to Mr. Tsongas' opposition to a tax cut for the middle class, he said: "I'm tired of what is cold-blooded being passed off as courage."

Mr. Tsongas retorted: "Is Bill Clinton now our resident expert on courage?"

To Mr. Clinton's charge that he favored corporations over people, he said: "I grew up in Lowell, [Mass.]. I do not need lectures from Bill Clinton or anyone on what decline's all about. . . . I lived it. . . . My function in this race is to bring back the American economy."

The tiffs came a day after Mr. Kerrey, a Vietnam vet who won the Medal of Honor for heroism, accused Mr. Clinton of blaming others whenever his own conduct is questioned -- specifically for the controversy over the governor's Vietnam-era draft status. Mr. Kerrey said the Republicans would exploit the issue, making Mr. Clinton unelectable.

In 1969, Mr. Clinton secured a draft deferment after he said he would enlist in an ROTC program at the University of Arkansas. He subsequently gave up the deferment but was never drafted.

Mr. Clinton's fusillade against Mr. Kerrey came during a brief stop at the Atlanta airport, where he picked up the endorsements of Mayor Maynard Jackson and Jim Wiggins, a Georgia district attorney and Vietnam veteran.

Mr. Kerrey, campaigning in Florida, counterattacked. He lambasted Mr. Clinton for suggesting that Mr. Kerrey did not support the Persian Gulf War after it began. Mr. Kerrey did vote against the prewar congressional resolution authorizing President Bush to use force against Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

Democratic primary voters go to the polls Tuesday in Georgia, where Mr. Clinton is leading, and in Maryland and Colorado, where he is trailing Mr. Tsongas. A week later, 10 states vote on Super Tuesday; that could determine a clear front-runner.

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