Clinton obligated to D.C. statehood, Jackson says

November 09, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- Urging President-elect Bill Clinton to honor promises made to black and urban voters, the Rev. Jesse Jackson says he expects the new administration to create jobs for the unemployed and to seek statehood for the District of Columbia.

"Promises made should be promises kept," Mr. Jackson said repeatedly during a session at the Los Angeles Times' Washington bureau late last week.

Pressed to identify the promises that Mr. Clinton made to win overwhelming support from black Americans, Mr. Jackson cited the Arkansas governor's backing of "a massive economic stimulus program to put Americans back to work with some targeted focus on those areas that need it most."

He added that Mr. Clinton, unlike President Bush and independent candidate Ross Perot, expressed support during the campaign for legislation that would make Washington, D.C., the nation's 51st state.

"So it seems to me that he has the opportunity in the first 100 days to be a Lyndon Johnson in that sense and not a Jimmy Carter -- to be decisive and very fundamental in the structural changes," Mr. Jackson said, referring to the last two Democratic presidents.

He also called for legislation to provide universal health insurance, same-day voter registration and unpaid time off from work for medical care and family emergencies.

Mr. Jackson, who ran unsuccessfully for the White House in 1984 and 1988, expressed optimism at the return of a Democratic administration but also warned that he and more liberal political activists would be betrayed if Mr. Clinton failed to deliver on his campaign promises.

Mr. Clinton and Mr. Jackson had a chilly relationship during the Democratic primaries. The two bickered publicly over Mr. Clinton's condemnation of rapper Sister Souljah's comments that blacks should set aside a week to kill whites instead of other blacks. Angered that the Arkansas governor issued his denunciation of Ms. Souljah at a forum held by his Rainbow Coalition, Mr. Jackson complained about Mr. Clinton's use of "push-off strategy" to isolate his campaign from Mr. Jackson as a calculated move to appeal to white voters.

But as Mr. Clinton's campaign grew stronger in its closing weeks, the relationship between the two men warmed. At the request of Democratic Party officials, Mr. Jackson traveled to more than 30 states to register new voters and campaign for Mr. Clinton and other party candidates. On several occasions, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Jackson appeared together at campaign events.

During the meeting with Times reporters and editors, Mr. Jackson also played down his past differences with Mr. Clinton, saying: "I'm delighted to be united."

Asked if he expects or wants a position in the Clinton administration, Mr Jackson demurred.

"I don't want to be on the staff," he said. "Staff punches clocks. If he honors his campaign for statehood, I'd rather work with him as a senator than work for him as a staff member."

Mr. Jackson serves as a "shadow senator" for the District of Columbia, lobbying for statehood without having the ability to cast a vote in the Senate or to enjoy other official privileges.

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