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Democrat From Missouri Tosses Hat in '88 Ring

February 23, 1987|United Press International

ST. LOUIS — Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri today became the first Democrat to declare himself a 1988 presidential candidate, and said "the magic of freedom" enables the sons and daughters of milkmen and secretaries to aspire to high office.

Gephardt, 46, announced his candidacy at a rally in the renovated Union Station, only blocks from where his late father ran a milk route in south St. Louis.

"Today, surrounded by my family and friends, and not far from where I grew up and on the site where Harry Truman accepted victory, I am announcing my candidacy for presidency of the United States," Gephardt said.

He acknowledged that he must overcome his lack of name recognition nationally, but said he welcomes the challenge.

"Some campaigns focus primarily on problems. In this campaign and in the presidency itself, you and I will speak for the vast untapped potential and possibilities of America. . . , " he said.

"I reject the view that the challenges are too hard, and that Americans have grown too soft.

"The pessimists do not understand the meaning and the magic of freedom--what the daughters and sons of secretaries and milkmen, farmers and machinists, businessmen and women can do for their country when they are put to the test."

Without mentioning President Reagan by name, Gephardt said the Administration has been lax on enforcing civil rights laws, has failed to live up to nuclear treaties with the Soviets and has violated the law by sending military aid to the contras.

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