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Committed to Old Party Values : Simon Vows to Go On Despite Being 3rd

February 17, 1988|KEITH LOVE | Times Political Writer

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Illinois Sen. Paul Simon vowed Tuesday night to fight on for the Democratic presidential nomination despite a disappointing third-place finish in the New Hampshire primary.

"The returns tonight are not what we had hoped for," Simon told cheering supporters at a rally. "But the most important thing is what we stand for . . . a nation that cares again. . . . So we go on tomorrow to Minnesota and South Dakota."

Those who expected Simon to quit the race if he failed to finish second here to the very strong Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis do not understand what drove him into the Democratic race. Essentially, it is a relentless--some would say last-gasp--commitment to the old Democratic Party values that have guided the 59-year-old Simon for his entire career.

'A Nation That Cares'

"We have put across a message in New Hampshire and in the nation," Simon said, "that we must have a nation that cares for working men and women, that stands up for the less fortunate and fights for middle-income people who want a good education for their children."

Also, after campaigning for nine grueling months and finishing strongly in Iowa last week, Simon wants to win something for his efforts, and he believes that Minnesota holds out that possibility next Tuesday.

Minnesota is the stronghold of the kind of liberalism that Simon espouses and is the home state of Simon's hero, the late Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey.

Simon Press Secretary Terry Michael said: "Clearly, we have to win something soon."

Money will be the big problem for Simon from here on, however. Although fund raising has gone relatively well in recent weeks, pulling in an estimated $250,000 in the last week, the third-place finish here is expected to severely hamper further money-gathering efforts. He is at least $600,000 in debt.

Task Could Be Easier

"Clearly, if I were ahead by 3 percentage points here instead of behind (Gephardt), then fund raising would be easier," Simon said in a TV interview as returns were still coming in.

To his supporters Tuesday night, Simon said: "You have not been campaigning for a man in a bow tie. You have campaigned for a cause and that cause is right, it is just and it must ultimately prevail if that young man there is to have a future."

Simon was referring to 13-year-old Josh Milne, who he picked out of the audience. On the stump, Simon often singles out young people and frames his campaign in terms of creating a better future for them.

Michael made a brave attempt to see the bright side, saying: "After his win in Iowa, Dick Gephardt should have contested Michael Dukakis for second here. But the fact that he did not and had to battle us for second means that Paul Simon has a powerful message."

But as Michael talked, the other Paul Simon, the pop singer, was blasting away via cassette tape over the loudspeakers about something that Simon the candidate is going to need in the coming days.

"These are the days of miracle and wonder," went the song.

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