'Independence Day' is a hit with Dole On California swing, candidate to praise movie's patriotic values

Campaign 1996

July 30, 1996|By Frank Langfitt | Frank Langfitt,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

LOS ANGELES -- Preparing for a reprise of last year's politically potent speech on Hollywood and American values, Bob Dole and his wife, Elizabeth, spent part of her 60th birthday yesterday watching the patriotic, sci-fi hit "Independence Day."

In a speech today to executives of 20th Century Fox, which made "Independence Day," and to other industry executives, Dole plans to cite the movie -- in which a U.S. president helps save the world from bloodthirsty aliens -- as one that promotes wholesome values.

After watching the film yesterday, he said, "I liked it. We won. It's a good movie [to] bring family to. You'll be proud of it when you leave."

Nelson Warfield, Dole's press secretary, said the Republican presidential candidate was going to see the movie because he believes it to be "an example of a major motion picture that makes money, but preserves the notion of patriotism and mankind coming together in the fight between good and evil."

As for the huge numbers of people annihilated in the movie, Ken Khachigian, Dole's chief California strategist, joked: "Yeah, but they're all liberals."

Dole made a splash in Los Angeles last year by attacking Hollywood for producing violent, sexually oriented films that he said undermine society.

Though much of Hollywood reacted angrily, the address is viewed as one of the most effective Dole has delivered.

In that speech, Dole praised the Arnold Schwarzenegger hit "True Lies" as promoting values of which he approves.

He had not, however, seen the action-spy film, which has a considerable body count and was criticized by some reviewers for misogyny. This time, he's seeing the picture first.

Dole has come to California for a two-day swing that Khachigian said is designed to shore up his support in the nation's most populous state.

A Los Angeles Times poll released earlier this month found President Clinton leading Dole by 27 points among the state's registered voters.

At 54 electoral votes, California is the biggest prize in the presidential race.

Khachigian attributed the poor showing to what he called a "barrage" of advertising by Clinton. He also noted that the California electorate is volatile and said he hoped to close the gap to 14 or 15 points in September.

Dole has also been trying on this trip to tap into anti-government sentiment by focusing on what he calls expensive and cumbersome federal regulations.

Yesterday morning, he told an enthusiastic crowd at a lumber mill in Northern California that Clinton's "flip-flop" policy on timber had contributed to the loss of thousands of jobs in the Pacific Northwest.

He argued that indecision by Clinton on permitting companies to salvage dead and dying trees on federal land had damaged the economy.

"You have been abandoned by this administration," Dole said at the Sierra Pacific lumber mill outside Redding.

The Clinton campaign said that the timber industry cutbacks occurred during the Bush administration and that under Clinton logging interests and environmentalists have worked together to conserve forests.

"Bob Dole is practicing the politics of the past, pitting business interests against protectors of the environment," Clinton campaign spokesman Joe Lockhart said.

Dole's words seemed to resonate with the Redding crowd, some of which gathered on huge piles of lumber that ringed the stage.

"The majority of the mills have closed down in the last five years because of restrictions," said Patti Camp, 33, a physical therapist in Redding, a city of about 80,000 at the foot of the Cascade Range.

But Frank Treadway, a Democrat who held a sign that read "Logging Corporations want to live on the Dole," said the loss of jobs was the result of mechanization and overharvesting.

"My stepfather was replaced by a machine at this very plant in the 1960s," said Treadway, 54, a mental health worker. "What corporations like this have failed to do is retrain their employees. They really have themselves to blame."

During most of 1995, environmentalists fought to prevent companies from logging dead timber in old-growth forests.

Clinton supported them, but eventually approved "timber salvage" as part of a larger budget bill.

Dole began his attack on Clinton's environmental record Sunday in Billings, Montana, accusing the president of waging "war on the West" and questioning his support for higher grazing fees, which Dole said would have put many farmers out of work.

Pub Date: 7/30/96

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