Jackson won't credit Clinton strategy for win Activist says conditions played primary role

December 02, 1992|By Boston Globe

BOSTON -- The Democratic Leadership Council may conside Bill Clinton's victory a vindication of its moderate approach, but Jesse Jackson has signaled that he is ready to engage party centrists in a tug of war over the election laurels.

Speaking to Boston Globe reporters and editors, the civil-rights leader contended yesterday that a sluggish economy, the end of the Soviet threat and other overarching factors, and not Mr. Clinton's campaign tactics or his attempts to appeal to the moderate mainstream, had determined the election.

"Fundamentally it was not some well-thought-out tactics that won, but rather objective conditions beyond any preconceived tactics," he said.

A stalwart of the party's traditional liberal wing, Mr. Jackson also disputed the Leadership Council's contention that Mr. Clinton's victory signaled the birth of a new Democratic Party.

"The new Democratic Party in many instances is newly registered black voters, newly registered Hispanic voters, newly inspired women voters," he declared.

At one point Mr. Jackson suggested that his 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns actually had laid the groundwork for Mr. Clinton's victory. Look at Mr. Clinton's platform, "and you will see that the issues that united us were issues that we raised in '84 and '88," he said, ticking off items such as Mr. Clinton's plan to rebuild the United States' infrastructure, his proposal for universal access to college education and his support for equal rights for gays.

Mr. Jackson, who has long maintained that the party should embrace a progressive agenda, rather than tack centerward, also made it clear that he does not think Mr. Clinton's victory was a particularly resounding one, given the dolorous economic conditions. "When the dust cleared, he only got 2 million more votes than" Michael Dukakis did in 1988, Mr. Jackson said.

Mr. Jackson said he feels no lingering bitterness over the public effort Mr. Clinton made to distance his candidacy from Mr. Jackson. Instead, Mr. Jackson said he had decided that the larger goal of defeating Mr. Bush was more important than his personal concerns.

Although Mr. Jackson said some of the campaign tensions between Mr. Clinton and him had been exaggerated, he also said he had not been invited to an economic summit Mr. Clinton will hold in mid-December, and made it clear he sees his role as that of an outsider in the new party.

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