CARBONDALE, Ill. — Illinois Sen. Paul Simon joined the wide-open contest for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination today, saying his bow-tie image is right for voters tired of candidates "slickly packaged like some new soft drink."
"I haven't tried to do what is temporarily popular or politically fashionable or what will raise campaign funds," Simon told a crowd of 1,500 cheering supporters, many sporting the silver bow-tie pins that are his campaign's trademark. "You get what you see and hear."
Simon, 58, made his formal announcement in a baroque auditorium on the campus of Southern Illinois University, near his home town of Makanda. He said he seeks to lead "an America at work in a world of peace."
The speech began a tour taking Simon today to Des Moines, Iowa, and Tuesday to Birmingham, Ala., Atlanta and Manchester, N.H.
Simon said he would run in the "proud Democratic tradition of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and John Kennedy in fighting for working and retired families."
Simon, a first-term senator, was a weekly newspaper publisher at 19 and later served in the Illinois Legislature, as lieutenant governor and as a congressman for a decade before unseating GOP Sen. Charles H. Percy in 1984.
"I seek an America that sends students and teachers and Peace Corps volunteers--instead of weapons--to Central America; an America that strongly stands by her traditional friends like Israel, and also vigorously leads toward peace in the Middle East," he said.
Strong to Defend Freedom
"And I seek an America strong enough to defend freedom against any foe, but unafraid to use the tools of diplomacy to bring greater security to the world," he added.
Simon said he had no intention of changing a political style that's been successful, and he said voters are ready for an unconventional candidate.
"To become fashionable, some people tell me to get rid of my bow tie and my horn-rimmed glasses, and--most of all--to change my views," Simon said. "As before, 1988 is not going to be the year for the candidate slickly packaged like some new soft drink."
Simon joins a Democratic presidential field that includes Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt as formally announced candidates. Jesse Jackson, Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Tennessee Sen. Albert Gore Jr. are expected to join the field by summer.