Clinton ends campaign with 9-state binge

November 03, 1992|By John Fairhall | John Fairhall,Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Campaigning furiously to the end, Gov. Bill Clinton reached the election finish line with a nine-state travel binge that began yesterday morning at a Philadelphia diner and was scheduled to end today at a voting booth in Arkansas.

His breakneck pace suggested an underdog, but Mr. Clinton acted like the confident front-runner he is. He refrained from attacks on President Bush and laid out for one more day the message with which he began his presidential bid exactly 13 months ago today.

"I ask you to remember this is a big election which will shape the future of our country well into the next generation, well into the next century," he told a crowd at an airport rally outside Cleveland.

"We must have a new economic policy: no more trickle-down, no tax and spend, but putting the American people first, investing in our jobs, controlling our health care costs."

But Mr. Clinton did not list the specific, costly programs for education, training and health care he has been promising.

Instead, he emphasized his self-styled image as a "new Democrat," talking more about the limits of government's role than the goodies it can deliver.

"This is an election that will test not whether we can have bigger government but better government," he said in Ohio. "I do not find anywhere, from the smallest towns to the biggest cities, people wanting Washington to run their lives. I do find everywhere people wanting a partner."

At times Mr. Clinton's air caravan included five planes and more than 200 campaign aides, journalists and Secret Service agents. The caravan crossed 4,100 miles from Philadelphia to Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, Paducah, Ky., McAllen and Fort Worth in Texas, Albuquerque, N.M., Denver and, last, Little Rock, Ark.

He drew his largest crowd of the day in McAllen, near the Mexico border, where 10,000 greeted him at the airport while a band played Spanish music.

Polls were open in much of the country when Mr. Clinton staged one last rally, in Denver, before heading home to Arkansas.

Though he spoke only at airports after Philadelphia, Democrats organized crowds -- as many as 2,000 people at some of the first stops. Their thunderous roars and chants of "one more day" shook the hangars where many of the rallies were held.

At the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Mr. Clinton defined government activism in the kind of conservative terms that has helped him win support in suburbs as well as cities. He said that in spending time with the poor, he "never saw people who ask me for a handout. All they want is a hand up. And it's time we had a government that gave it to them."

Everywhere he urged people to vote, not only for himself but for other Democrats like Sen. John Glenn of Ohio.

"Tomorrow the great mystery of American democracy will sweep over this country," he said in Ohio. "Wave after wave of you will be filing into the voting booth and in the solitude between you and your votes, you will be as powerful as any person in the United States of America."

His voice badly strained, Mr. Clinton asked his audiences for help: "If you'll be my voice tomorrow, I'll be yours for four years."

At the Cleveland airport rally, Martin Luther King III took the podium to rebut a Republican radio ad that claimed that Arkansas did not honor his father, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., with a holiday.

Political officials in each state eagerly joined Mr. Clinton, with some, like Mr. Glenn, hoping the extensive media coverage would help them in their own tight races.

When Mr. Clinton saw a man holding a cardboard box inscribed, "Elvis Says Return Bush to Sender," he beckoned an aide to get it for an autograph. Elvis Presley was one of Mr. Clinton's musical idols, and the journalists who travel with the Arkansas governor have nicknamed him Elvis.

At the Detroit airport, Patricia Neal of Warren, Mich. gave Mr. Clinton a token from Alcoholics Anonymous honoring her five years of sobriety. She gave it to him because she had heard of the troubles of his brother Roger, a recovering drug addict. Evidently moved by her gift, Mr. Clinton kissed her hand.

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