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Clinton Says GOP Is Distorting His Record : Politics: The President assails Republicans as he campaigns in Washington state. Analysts take note of the House Speaker's absence during his stops.

October 24, 1994|PAUL RICHTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SEATTLE — President Clinton on Sunday urged Democrats to "wash America's windshield" of Republican disinformation as he appeared at a fund-raising gathering notable for the absence of the state's most powerful Democrat, House Speaker Thomas S. Foley.

At a meeting that made about $60,000 for state Democratic candidates, Clinton said Republicans have distorted his Administration's record out of a belief that "if they can make people mad enough, and disoriented enough, they will just lash out" and vote against all incumbents.

"We've got to wash America's windshield off in the next two weeks so (voters) can see the light coming in," Clinton said.

The remarks, at the larger of two fund-raising events, came on the second day of a three-day campaign swing that took him on Saturday to Northern California and ended late Sunday in Ohio. He was scheduled to appear today in Cleveland and Akron before leaving Tuesday for a five-day trip to the Middle East.

The principal Washington fund-raiser, at the Seattle Center, attracted nearly a full showing of the state's most powerful Democrats, including four members of Congress, Senate candidate Ron Sims, Gov. Mike Lowry and Seattle Mayor Norm Rice.

But Foley, the Democratic Party's third-most-powerful figure, was hundreds of miles away in Spokane, closeted with aides.

"We've got a debate this evening, and our policy is to spend some hours preparing beforehand," said Todd Woodard, a press aide for Foley. The debate, the third with Republican challenger George Nethercutt, was scheduled before Clinton's trip, he added.

But analysts said it may have been just as well that Foley was far from Clinton during a race when his credentials as an insider have been made the principal campaign issue.

Foley, who represents the rural and largely conservative 5th District, is facing a tight race with Nethercutt, an adoption attorney. One recent poll showed each with 45% of the vote.

One other member of the state's Democratic congressional delegation, Rep. Jolene Unsoeld, also begged off from appearing with Clinton, claiming she had to campaign in her district.

Clinton went out of his way Sunday to tell reporters that he had no intention of trimming Social Security or Medicare, despite a suggestion in a newly leaked memo from Budget Director Alice Rivlin that the Administration might consider such options in order to further reduce the federal deficit.

"I do not support cuts in Social Security, and I believe any savings we achieve in Medicare should be used in health care," Clinton said.

The memo, he said, only listed options that may be considered by various groups, including Republicans and the bipartisan Kerrey Commission, which is looking at ways to reduce entitlement spending.

Clinton's fund-raising remarks heavily stressed his Administration's foreign policy efforts, an emphasis that would have been inconceivable in 1992, when he was campaigning to be a President focused on domestic affairs.

But now, sounding even a bit like former President George Bush, Clinton reeled off a list of areas where, he said, his Administration has brought peace, or at least made a difference: South Africa, the Middle East, Haiti and Northern Ireland.

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