Still Holding Out On Endorsing Clinton: Jesse Jackson, Jerry Brown
NEW YORK (AP) _ The Democratic ticket is picked and the nominating convention is about to start, but as of Friday two prominent Democrats still had not endorsed the party’s 1992 standard-bearers.
Jesse Jackson is scheduled to make a primetime speech Tuesday night, although he has yet to endorse the Bill Clinton-Al Gore ticket. That’s a condition every other speaker on the four-day program has met.
Jackson avoided a direct answer Friday when asked whether he would vote for Clinton or publicly endorse him. But he did not repeat his Thursday description of the Democratic team as ″a fairly narrow ticket.″
″The tensions in our party are not about personalities, they are about direction,″ he told reporters on the convention floor.
Earlier Friday, Jackson said that Clinton’s strategy is to distance himself from minorities, labor and other liberal elements of the party. ″I certainly intend to honor the distance that he keeps,″ Jackson said on CNN.
Convention planners nevertheless said they’re confident Jackson will be on board by the time the opening gavel comes down Monday afternoon. ″I expect that he will endorse Bill Clinton and I have no indications that that expectation isn’t realistic,″ party chairman Ronald Brown said Friday.
Jerry Brown, defeated by Clinton in the primaries, brings to the convention more than 600 delegates and demands for myriad political, governmental and party reforms. He was not invited to speak because he did not meet the endorsement litmus test.
″He hasn’t given me any indication of what he’s going to do,″ said party chairman Brown.
While talks are being held with the Brown camp, party and Clinton campaign officials say the former California governor’s expectations are unrealistic.
Brown apparently has until midweek to abandon his demands and possibly secure a slot on the Wednesday night speaking program along with Paul Tsongas, another losing candidate, who endorsed Clinton earlier this week.
″If he’s willing to withdraw his name from nomination and throw his support to the ticket as Paul Tsongas has, I suspect he would be given the same kinds of consideration. But it’s entirely his decision,″ said Laura Quinn, Clinton’s convention press secretary.
Jerry Brown denied Friday that his continued demands were divisive. ″I want to see some healing but I also want to see some debate,″ he said on CNN.
Brown was sounding somewhat conciliatory after the Gore pick, praising the Tennessee senator’s environmental record in interviews Thursday night.
Jackson reacted coolly to a Clinton-Gore ticket. He said both men were from the same moderate wing of the party and the ticket didn’t reflect the concerns of minorities or workers.
But he also called Gore ″a credible, hard-working campaigner″ and said he brought energy and ″a tremendous intellect″ to the ticket. ″He is a hard worker and he is a student of politics and he grows as he goes,″ said Jackson, who tangled with Gore in a bitter 1988 New York primary race that knocked Gore out of the running.
Clinton picked up most of the black vote through this year’s primary season without Jackson’s help and suggested he wasn’t concerned about Jackson’s refusal thus far to commit himself to the ticket.
″He’ll just have to make up his mind on that, like every other American will,″ Clinton said at his Little Rock news conference with Gore.