Clinton tests his popularity in close Senate race in Ga.

November 24, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

MACON, Ga. -- President-elect Bill Clinton campaigned yesterday on behalf of Georgia Sen. Wyche Fowler, who faces a run-off election that either will give the Democrats' a 58-42 Senate majority or raise potentially embarrassing questions about Mr. Clinton's political pull.

In stops in Macon and Albany, Mr. Clinton told voters that they needed to show up today at the polls once again so that Senator Fowler can cast votes in the Senate that may be crucial to the new president's legislative agenda.

"You know what they're saying about this election?" Mr. Clinton asked a crowd of several thousand gathered in front of Macon's imposing Greek Revival city hall. "If you beat Wyche Fowler it will be easy to block everything President-elect Clinton wants to do."

Mr. Clinton, displaying his characteristic campaign zeal, plunged into the Macon crowd for a half hour of hand-shaking, then, picking up a saxophone, sat in with the Central High School Band.

As he played the tune of "Hey, Baby," a 1960s pop hit, the crowd sang, "Hey, Bill, will you be my prez?" instead of, "Hey, baby will you be my girl."

Mr. Clinton's swing was made against the advice of several aides, who urged him not to risk an appearance with a one-term senator who has lost a strong lead in a brutally negative race.

Republican Paul Coverdell, an insurance executive and former Peace Corps director, has hit Mr. Fowler hard for allegedly writing overdrafts on his account at the House bank while a congressman and for his difficulties in a messy child-support proceeding.

Dee Dee Myers, Mr. Clinton's press secretary, while conceding that there was some risk in the campaign swing, insisted that risks are unavoidable if the president-elect is to accomplish what he wants.

"He's not going to sit in his office and try to work for change," she said.

In the general election, Mr. Fowler won 49 percent of the vote, Mr. Coverdell 48 percent, and a Libertarian candidate 3 percent.

Mr. Clinton's staff also announced that during his Thanksgiving trip to California, the president-elect will talk with former President Reagan.

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