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Clinton Raises Big Bucks on Michigan Trip

March 5, 1996

BINGHAM HILLS, Mich. (AP) _ Pushing a theme of unity and economic prosperity, President Clinton helped raise nearly $2 million for himself and fellow Democrats in a state considered vital to his re-election.

Democrats said the generous reception given Clinton in Michigan during a rescheduled, one-day campaign swing Monday portends good things for them in November. Such donating, they say, proves that American voters are rejecting the messages of Republican candidates.

``Those candidates can go after him all they want,″ said House Minority Whip David Bonoir, D-Mich. ``The reason we are surging today as a party,″ he added ``is because our message is more inclusive than theirs.″

That, however, did not stop Clinton from cribbing a line or two from GOP candidate Pat Buchanan, who has become a surprise contender with scrappy economic populism that appeals to working-class voters who are insecure about their jobs.

To test the receptiveness of ``Reagan Democrats″ here _ swing voters who are mainly white, pro-union, middle-class suburbanites _ the president blamed much of the public’s insecurity on large companies that are laying off workers ``even when their profits are going up.″

``How can it be if the stock market is at 5700, big companies are laying people off, downsizing them?,″ Clinton said. ``And people my age, 50-year-old men, are being told they’re not important anymore _ `Thank you very much for the last 25 years, you figure out how to send your kids to college.′ How do all these things happen at once?″

Aides said Monday’s two campaign appearances, in downtown Detroit and at the Bingham Hills mansion of developer David Hermelin, brought in $1.7 million for the Clinton-Gore campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the Democrats’ coordinated campaign.

The downtown event brought in $700,000, to be divided between Clinton’s campaign and the DNC. The second event, a dinner at a private residence, generated $1 million for the coordinated campaign to spend on get-out-the-vote efforts and the general election.

The dollars add potency to Clinton’s already formidable warchest. The president had raised a total of $26.5 million in 1995, and had nearly $18 million in cash on hand on Feb. 1.

Clinton seemed to revel in this, drawing contrasts between the agendas of his administration and the Republican-controlled Congress. He again called for a balanced federal budget, challenging Congress to approve ``a growth agenda for the American people″ in the next 60 days. He advocated increasing the minimum wage, protecting workers’ pensions and helping Americans increase their earning potential by making a college education more accessible.

``Remember in 1996 what the other party tried to do in 1995. Understand exactly what’s at stake,″ Clinton told the mostly male downtown crowd, which paid $1,000 a plate to nosh on salmon and vegetables while sitting on plastic chairs with metal legs that scraped across a linoleum floor when they rose to give Clinton a standing ovation.

``I do not believe the American people want to go down a road where we are divided for cheap political purposes,″ Clinton said. He asked them to recall why he ran for president in the first place: Because of his belief that ``this country could not sit by and let the American dream be squandered″ by political leaders who delighted in splitting the nation into factions.

In blue-collar Taylor, Mich., where a Democratic presidential candidate has not won a majority since 1976, Clinton sought to assuage nervous workers with a litany of accomplishments his administration achieved through a policy of open trade and economic growth.

He said U.S. automakers have created 75,000 new jobs under his administration, and auto exports went up 37 percent in the past year. His administration has struck 200 trade agreements over its three years in office _ 20 with Japan alone _ that helped open other markets to all types of U.S. products.

Unemployment in Michigan has dropped from 7 percent to 5 percent while Clinton has been in the White House. Administration officials said more than 300,000 jobs have been created in the state under Clinton.

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