The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson called yesterday for the public to rally in Washington to show its opposition to impeaching President Clinton.
During a news conference with Rep. Elijah E. Cummings at a Baltimore union hall, the civil rights leader and former presidential candidate said impeachment proceedings are an "obsession" of a "get-Clinton mania" that would "jeopardize national interests."
"We have a lame-duck Congress where a substantial number are letting their swan song be impeaching the president," Jackson said to the shouts and applause of about 80 union workers at the Service Employees International Union Hall on North Eutaw Street. "Impeachment is disproportionate to the sin."
Jackson said he will lead a prayer vigil on the steps of the Capitol from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, when the full House will consider whether to impeach Clinton -- an event Jackson likened to a "war," complete with "heroes and heroines."
He asked Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, and union leaders to provide buses for their members to join the demonstration.
Leaders of the 150,000-member Metropolitan Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO Unions said they would try to make arrangements to get as many people to Washington as possible.
"The stability of our nation is at stake," Cummings said. "This will create a whole lot of mess. The American people get it. The Republicans don't."
"We're appealing to God for mercy and we're appealing to Congress for good judgment," Jackson said. "These lame-duck Congress members are willing to defy the will of the American people.
"For his country, his actions were contrite. He apologized," Jackson said. "Now they want to run a dagger through his heart. There's something sadistic about this."
If impeachment proceedings move forward, Jackson warned, paralysis could occur on social issues such as education, the economy, and housing for the elderly and the poor.
After Jackson's speech, dozens of union members surrounded him to show their support for Clinton.
"Before they go to clean up someone else's house, they need to clean up their own," said Jeanette S. Hall, a chief shop steward for Local 44 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in the city's Department of Education. "We realize [Clinton's] done something wrong, that's beneath us. Everybody needs forgiveness."
Pub Date: 12/14/98