Vice President Firms Up Core Democratic Constituencies
CHICAGO (AP) _ Attempting to firm up core Democratic constituencies, Vice President Al Gore spent Sunday meeting with Hispanics and attending a black church. ``You can make the critical difference,″ he said.
It was Gore’s first visit back to Chicago since the Democratic convention in August. Illinois was part of an eight-state campaign swing.
Gore told the United States Hispanic Leadership Conference that in the past four years of the Clinton administration, the number of new Hispanic small businesses has grown and the unemployment rate among the group has dropped. President Clinton also has filled hundreds of federal government positions with Latinos and appointed a record number _ 16 _ of Hispanics to federal, local and appeals courts, Gore said.
``This is the kind of steady, solid leadership America needs,″ Gore told the group. ``Excellence and diversity go hand in hand.″
Alluding to the Republican presidential ticket’s anti-affirmative action stance, Gore said, ``Sadly our nation is now seeing another backlash against those not native born.″
Gore also reenforced his and Clinton’s opposition to a California ballot initiative that would end state-run affirmative action programs, including those pertaining to college admissions. Dole, in courting California voters, has come out in favor of the ballot measure.
``The way to lift this nation up is not by pulling the weakest down. We need to continue to expand opportunities for everyone who wants to achieve,″ Gore said to applause from the crowd.
Gore said Hispanics, by turning out in large numbers at the polls Nov. 5, can send a message: ``Do not play with nativism. Do not play that card.″
``You can make the critical difference,″ Gore said.
Gore said the administration supports bilingual education, fought hard to improve the immigration bill, opposes English as official language efforts and supports AIDS research.
Clemente Raya, a sheet metal worker from Kansas City who attended the conference, said he planned to vote for President Clinton.
Republican Bob Dole, he said, ``is trying to turn back the clock. ... I hope they (the Democrats) won’t let it happen.″
Janie Brines, a city employee from Michigan, and a conference participant, said, ``It inspires me to go back to my community and let people know that their vote counts.″
Later, Gore attended services at the Apostolic Church of God, the largest African American church in the state.
In a rousing speech that heavily quoted scripture, Gore told the 1,000 member congregation of the story of Ezekiel and how God brought dried bones back to life. Like God, Democratic supporters, he preached, can work together to breath new life into neighborhoods.
``As we should breath life into communities that have been afflicted ... that have been hurt, churches that have been burned, lives that been ruined, young people that have people that have been denied opportunity, communities that have been ravaged by crime,″ Gore said.
Public polling shows Clinton ahead of Dole in Illinois. In 1992, Clinton carried the state, winning its 22 electoral votes.