LITTLE ROCK — A group of prominent conservative foreign-policy and defense experts endorsed Bill Clinton on Sunday, a further indication of the Democratic presidential nominee's intention to challenge President Bush on what was expected to be the incumbent's strongest ground.
The endorsements also demonstrate the ability the Democrats are now showing to heal some of the wounds that have divided their party in the past.
Among those endorsing Clinton were Paul H. Nitze, the longtime arms control adviser to Democratic and Republican presidents; R. James Woolsey, a former undersecretary of the Navy in the Administration of Democrat Jimmy Carter who is a close friend and associate of Bush's national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft; retired Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, a hard-line expert on the Soviet Union who once headed the National Security Agency, and Richard Schifter, who until recently served as assistant secretary of state in charge of international human rights policy.
Those signing the endorsement "are part of a group of disaffected Democrats going back to the 1972 campaign," said Penn Kemble, a former aide to the late Sen. Henry M. Jackson of Washington. Kemble was one of the organizers of the orchestrated endorsements.
The defection of conservative foreign-policy thinkers--many associated with Jackson--from the Democrats during the 1970s and 1980s formed one of the chief sources of intellectual energy behind the Republican ascendancy over the last generation.
But with the end of the Cold War, many of those same people have begun returning to their Democratic roots. And Clinton's campaign has actively been wooing them.