Bush Campaign Talks All Day About Stopping Anti-Clinton Tactics
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Bush campaign Tuesday asked the Federal Election Commission to move against a supporter who is attacking the character of Democrat Bill Clinton. The president blasted Floyd Brown’s ″filthy campaign tactics″ but said he doesn’t have the power to stop Brown.
Clinton said he wasn’t sure whether the White House was genuinely concerned about Brown’s attacks.
″They want it both ways. They want to distance themselves from it and they want the benefits,″ Clinton said in New York before the Bush campaign complaint was filed with the FEC.
Bush’s aides say they want to avoid being associated with the kind of negative campaigning that still haunts the president from the 1988 campaign - the racially tinged Willie Horton ads aired by Brown when Bush ran against Democrat Michael Dukakis.
Bush, traveling in California, said he can’t stop Brown.
″The problem is, we don’t have the power,″ he said. ″We will do whatever we can to stop any filthy campaign tactics. We have spoken out against it, written the contributors. Our record is clean on it and for anyone to suggest differently is insidious.″
The Bush team managed to focus continuing attention on Brown’s efforts while decrying them: Aside from Bush’s comments, Chief of Staff Sam Skinner denounced Brown; campaign attorneys filed an FEC complaint; and the White House released a statement.
Skinner told reporters traveling with Bush that the president was ″very upset″ over a CBS News report saying Brown had been harassing the family of a woman who Brown said once had an affair with Clinton.
The Arkansas governor, who called the CBS report ″a pretty chilling story,″ suggested that the Bush team wanted to keep the story alive.
″If you can’t win on the record, can’t win on your vision for the future, what’s the alternative? Try to make people vote against the other guy,″ Clinton said.
Brown has vowed to spend $10 million on Bush’s re-election.
The Bush campaign filed a complaint Tuesday asking the FEC to find Brown in violation of statutes that require a political group to clearly state who pays for its solicitations, said campaign attorney Bobby Burchfield. Burchfield also asked the FEC to require Brown to mail a ″corrective letter″ to his contributors stating that he was in no way affiliated with the Bush re- election campaign.
Press secretary Marlin Fitzwater said in a statement that ″Floyd Brown’s activities are despicable and have no place in the American political system.″
On Tuesday, a state district judge in Dallas lifted a court order blocking Brown’s political action committee, the Presidential Victory Committee, from using tapes of alleged conversations between Gennifer Flowers and Clinton on a call-in phone line. Flowers had won a temporary court order last week. Tuesday’s ruling the clear the way for Brown to reactivate the phone line.
The Bush campaign already has mailed letters to Brown’s contributors as listed in public FEC records to clarify that Brown’s ″Citizens For Bush″ campaign is in no way affiliated with Bush. A letter from Bush’s son, George Jr., urged them not to contribute to Brown.
Bush attorneys also were considering a federal lawsuit, Burchfield said.
Burchfield said Brown ″is hurting President Bush’s reputation for integrity more than he is hurting Bill Clinton’s reputation.″
″We want Floyd Brown out of business.″
The Bush campaign, after learning that Brown was planning another independent ad campaign this year against Clinton, wrote him on March 9, Fitzwater said, demanding he stop any activities that could be confused with efforts of the Bush-Quayle campaign.
Burchfield called Brown ″a political leper. By being a supporter of the president he is causing harm to our campaign.″