Schmoke sees new hope for city with Clinton

November 04, 1992|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Staff Writer

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- As Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke sat by a restaurant window in the downtown Capital Hotel, about the only thing going according to plan was the early lead for his man, Gov. Bill Clinton.

"I've always preferred a dull slaughter to an exciting race," Mr. Schmoke said.

As Mr. Schmoke spoke at about 5:30 p.m. yesterday, the election was shaping up to be a dull slaughter. And with that, the mayor dismissed the kinks that developed in his schedule here.

It did not matter that a Clinton campaign aide scheduled to meet Mr. Schmoke's party at the airport never materialized. After all, the limousine was there.

Mr. Schmoke's plans to call Maryland Democratic voters from Mr. Clinton's campaign headquarters were disrupted by a routine Secret Service security sweep. Campaign workers were forced out of the headquarters temporarily, but in the glow of the early lead, that was no problem either.

"As it turned out, we didn't need that [the phone calls] anyway," Mr. Schmoke said. "I'm hearing that people are waiting in line to vote [in Baltimore]."

Looking at the lead, Mr. Schmoke said he had only one priority here in Little Rock: to press the case for helping financially strapped cities, including Baltimore.

"I'm here to say Baltimore, Baltimore," Mr. Schmoke said. "I'm going to say it to everyone I see. I want people to remember us, and I want them to be kind to us."

Mr. Schmoke repeated his claim that he has no interest in a Cabinet post -- even if Mr. Clinton offered him one.

"I worked in Washington before, and I saw what went on between the White House staff and the Cabinet," recalled Mr. Schmoke, who was an aide to former President Jimmy Carter.

In addition, Mr. Schmoke said, Mr. Clinton has a "wealth of talent" to draw from in building his administration. Among the names mentioned by Mr. Schmoke were:

* Vernon Jordan, former national Urban League president who has been touted for attorney gen- eral.

* Henry Cisneros, former mayor of San Antonio who was mentioned as a possible secretary of housing and urban development.

* Frank Raines, a senior vice president with Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) who also was mentioned as a possible HUD secretary.

* Ernest Green, a Wall Street banker who worked in the Labor Department under President Carter.

"They're all friends of mine, so Baltimore should be fine," Mr. Schmoke said, laughing.

Despite the mayor's intention to lobby for Baltimore, he had little opportunity to do that in the celebratory crush of downtown Little Rock.

Mr. Schmoke, who was accompanied to Little Rock by his wife, Dr. Patricia Schmoke, a campaign aide and a city police officer, did have an opportunity to hobnob with his fellow national co-chairs in the Clinton campaign.

But much of his time here was spent --ing from one television interview to another.

He also kept his cellular phone busy with calls to Baltimore radio stations and to his campaign forces at home.

The rest of the time, Mr. Schmoke appeared to be a pleased observer, happy that Republican control of the White House for 12 straight years was apparently coming to an end.

"I really do think Clinton is going to adopt some of the programs for cities presented by the U.S. Conference of Mayors," Mr. Schmoke said, clearly looking forward to an administration headed by Mr. Clinton.

Those programs would mean renewed federal investment in cities, something not a priority with the Republicans, who appeared to be winning few votes in America's urban centers.

"Things should be better," he said.

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