NASHVILLE TENNESEE — NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In his usual, excitable Baptist-minister style, Jesse L. Jackson roused 3,500 delegates at the NAACP convention yesterday and ordered them to go to the polls in November. But when it came to telling them which lever to pull, Mr. Jackson's fire turned lukewarm.
"The Clinton-Gore ticket is the most viable vehicle for the change we seek in America," he said. "But it needs to be pushed."
Mr. Jackson, a favored son of the civil rights organization, said that Democratic candidate Bill Clinton's support of statehood for Washington, fair taxes on the wealthy and corporations, and investment in inner cities are all steps in the right direction.
But he added, "It's not enough because it doesn't correspond to the size of the need."
One of Mr. Jackson's biggest concerns with Mr. Clinton is that the governor of Arkansas has yet to join in support of an urban plan by several mayors that would pump $35 billion into renovating cities. Mr. Jackson also expressed concern over Mr. Clinton's support of a free-trade agreement with Mexico and his support of choice in education programs.
Mr. Jackson mentioned Mr. Clinton by name only once or twice in his speech, but later he explained: "This is not a campaign stop. But I will campaign this season as much as any other senator."
However, he pointed out that Mr. Clinton had not asked for a meetingwith him to discuss his role in the presidential campaign.
In another theme of his speech yesterday, Mr. Jackson told the crowd that African-Americans must make the transition from freedom to equality, particularly economic equality. And he urged NAACP leaders to organize an African-American economic summit and marches against banks that refuse to lend money to investors and homeowners in inner-city neighborhoods.
"If a police hits you over the head, you're humiliated and you ask the NAACP to file a lawsuit," he said. "But the real brutality comes when a banker draws a red line around your neighborhood, no blood on his fingers."
Mr. Jackson took off his glasses to explain his "Rebuild America Plan," which calls on the government to set aside $500 billion for infrastructure improvements in cities. Seed money for the fund could come from cutting military spending, pension funds and government loans.
In a jab at the presidential hopeful Ross Perot -- who offended NAACP delegates earlier this week by referring to them as "you people" -- Mr. Jackson advised the Texas billionaire to do his homework before speaking in front of unknown audiences.
"Before you go to Harvard, you don't just say, 'Well, I'm going to Harvard,' " he said. "You say, 'Gee, I better study now.'
"Well, when you come to the NAACP, you should expect high standards."