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GOP Ticket Tries to Build Support For Tax Cuts

August 17, 1996

DENVER (AP) _ Stepping beyond the stage lights of the Republican presidential nominating convention, Bob Dole and Jack Kemp are working to build public support for their tax cut proposal against Democratic attacks.

``Fifteen, 15, 15 percent tax cut! Keep that in mind,″ Dole boomed to a send-off rally crowd Friday in San Diego before embarking with Kemp, his vice presidential running mate, on a quick cross-country tour.

Venturing into states won by President Clinton in 1992, the GOP ticket was due at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield today, before heading to Buffalo, N.Y., where Kemp was a pro football hero and later a congressman. The trip ends Sunday in Pennsylvania.

``Is there anybody here who doesn’t want a tax cut?″ Dole called out Friday at the nominees’ first stop: Denver’s Dominion Plaza.

``No!″ the solidly Republican crowd of about 800 shouted in unison.

``We’re not going to apologize for putting more money in your paycheck,″ Dole added.

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Clinton today ended the silence on Dole and GOP policies he had maintained during the convention, using his weekly radio address to lash out at the $548 billion tax cut proposal as ``indiscriminate,″ irresponsible and a threat to the nation’s economy.

He reiterated and expanded on Democratic charges that a tax cut of that magnitude would require slashes in Social Security, Medicare and other social programs.

In its stead, the president said the smaller package of tax cuts he seeks is targeted to help families and workers pay for education and training, buy a home and help pay for child care.

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In his appearances in San Diego and Denver, Dole denied the Democratic charges, saying: ``I would not propose a tax cut ... had I not been certain you could do it without hurting Social Security, without hurting Medicare.″

He said his plan would cut by more than half the taxes of a family making $35,000 a year.

For his part, Kemp promised that the proposed 15 percent cut in income taxes would be just a ``down payment″ on a wholesale overhaul of the tax code by a Dole-Kemp administration.

It was a crowd-pleasing pledge.

``Those tax cuts would be exciting to me,″ said Joanne Lynes in Denver, who also credited the GOP’s highly stylized California convention with ``energizing everybody″ in the party.

Whether the ticket, introduced in San Diego as the Republican ``Dream Team,″ could keep voters fired up was an unresolved question. But many in the Denver crowd didn’t think excitement was so crucial.

``It’s more that I don’t want Clinton,″ said Patricia Ferry, 39, of Littleton, Colo. Echoed Mike McLendon, 46, a Denver defense contractor, ``Anybody but Clinton.″

A hand-painted, hand-held sign bobbing near the stage read: ``Dull is better than dangerous.″

The gregarious Kemp also was a hit with the partisan crowd. Dole brought a roar _ and a tremor from hundreds of red, white and blue pompons _ when he asked if he’d chosen the right running mate.

``I can hardly wait for the Kemp-Gore debate,″ Dole chuckled.

The nominees also made a pitch for GOP congressional candidates and invited local Republicans to join them on stage.

Meanwhile, campaign aides said Republican polling showed Dole had narrowed the Democratic incumbent’s lead to nine or 10 percentage points.

They voiced confidence that Dole’s shaky standing in traditional GOP strongholds would solidify over the next few weeks because of the convention and the selection of Kemp for the ticket.

``I’m now leaving full of excitement and full of enthusiasm and full of confidence,″ Dole said in San Diego. And what next? ``I try to win the election.″

Nominees traditionally get a polling ``bounce″ from their conventions, but these can prove difficult to sustain once the media spotlight shifts. In Dole’s case, keeping momentum could prove tougher because Clinton gets a convention spotlight of his own in nine days.

Even with his convention boost, Dole trailed Clinton by double-digit margins in most polls, though those surveys were conducted before Dole’s Thursday night speech.

The nomination brought the Dole-Kemp campaign $62 million in federal campaign funds, and it plans to spend some quickly. A major advertising effort will begin soon, probably Tuesday, to promote the tax cut plan and take issue with Clinton administration assertions that the economy is in its best shape in 30 years.