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Simon Hopeful as He Holds Fund-Raisers in Southland

December 12, 1987|MAURA DOLAN | Times Staff Writer

Democratic presidential candidate Paul Simon, whose surge in the polls has yet to be matched by fund raising, said in Los Angeles Friday that he believes he will pick up adequate financing after he shows well in either Iowa or New Hampshire, hosts of the first two major presidential contests.

The Illinois senator, who arrived for a series of fund-raisers, was responding to reports that he may have difficulty waging a strong campaign after the Feb. 16 New Hampshire primary if his fund raising does not improve.

"If money alone would do the trick, then John Connally would be President of the United States today," said Simon, referring to the former Texas governor who mounted an unsuccessful race for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980.

A Campaign Reality

"But the reality is if a candidate does well in Iowa or New Hampshire--either one--you get those telegrams out saying things are going well, please send contributions, and the contributions come in," Simon said, speaking at a news conference in Burbank. "What you have to do is finance through Iowa and New Hampshire, and I think it's fairly clear that we're going to be able to do that."

As of Oct. 1, Simon had raised $2 million, most of that in the third quarter. His press secretary, Terry Michael, said fund raising in the fourth quarter will exceed that of the third, but he refused to say by how much. He estimated Simon would raise about $100,000 in three fund-raisers in Los Angeles Friday and a fourth in San Francisco today.

Former Democratic Party Chairman Charles T. Manatt, who recently took over as chairman of the Simon campaign, is also expected to improve fund raising, Michael said.

Simon, who has emerged as a front-runner in several Iowa polls, attributed his relatively small campaign chest to his late start in the campaign and to a voting record that he called "a great one for the people of the nation . . . not necessarily a great one for getting campaign contributions."

Dukakis' Donations Told

By comparison, Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis has raised about $10 million to date. Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, who is also seeking the Democratic nomination, has raised $3.98 million.

John Plaxco, Simon's California finance director, said the candidate's recent surge in the polls has brought a "dramatic increase in interest in the campaign" in California.

"But I still wouldn't characterize it as a major movement out here yet," Plaxco said.

Simon's financial base in the state is "broad and diverse," he said, noting that the senator has picked up financial support from the Westside Jewish community, business and various ethnic groups. But he said the entertainment industry is "still holding back."

"My sense is it will be Iowa and New Hampshire before you see any major movement by those folks," he said.

Greeted by Two Legislators

Simon was greeted on his arrival in Burbank by two state legislators who recently endorsed his candidacy: Assemblyman Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles) and state Sen. Cecil N. Green (D-Norwalk).

The candidate told reporters that his spending priorities, as President, would be education, followed by public sector jobs and long-term health care for the elderly. Improving residential health care for the elderly would cost $26 billion and would have to be financed by "some small tax," he said.

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