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Clinton Sells Realtors With Bipartisan Appeal : Politics: Even avid Republicans credit the President for decrying divisiveness during speech to national association at Anaheim Convention Center Arena.


ANAHEIM — President Clinton's plea Saturday for an end to a season of oftenvicious partisan politics found its mark among an enthusiastic, largely Republican crowd of realtors and others who packed the Convention Center Arena for the Democratic President's address.

"He was magnificent," said Villa Park attorney William A. Dougherty, an avid Republican. "I think the man is right. We should not be throwing bombs at each other. It has to stop. I think this speech was a great success for him."

In the midst of announcing a new national housing policy initiative, Clinton recited a list of his Administration's accomplishments--from deficit reduction to job creation--and asked the gathering to consider those achievements "without regard to your party or philosophy."

"What we need in this country so much is to get away from this whole kind of negative-dominated way of talking, where we scream at each other instead of visiting with each other," Clinton told 5,000 people attending the National Assn. of Realtors conference.

"Believe me, I don't have all the answers. And, if you try to do as many things as I've tried to do, you'll make a mistake or two and I acknowledge that."

Many in the audience, including numerous Republicans, seemed to appreciate the President's bipartisan appeal. The crowd once rose to its feet and whistled its approval.


Clinton's message comes three days before the end of a bitter election year in which candidates have flooded the airwaves with intensely negative attacks on their opponents.

"He (Clinton) tried to bring us together and you have to give him credit for that," said Pat Burns, a Newport Beach Republican who surged forward after Clinton's speech to shake the President's hand. "I offered my help to him. He is our President. I think he spoke from the heart."

Other Republican convention delegates said Clinton deserved credit for "talking about issues that are close to home," as Catherine Richard of Austin, Texas, put it.

"I respect him for trying to uplift the cynical attitude of the people," Richard said. "He talked to the people, not at the people."

Perhaps the most apolitical assessment of the President's performance Saturday came from a pair of realtors, Bert Vis and Andreas Lieberom, who had come from the Netherlands to attend the international convention.

"Very impressive," the two said in unison, their experience notably enhanced when Clinton walked down to the audience after his address and grabbed their outstretched hands.

"We are people from a small county in the Netherlands, who got to shake hands with the most powerful person in the whole world," Lieberom said. "We can't believe it. We never expected this, never."

Long after the President's departure, the two men wandered into the convention press room to watch a replay of their encounter with Clinton, slapping each other's backs when their faces appeared on the screen.

"I told him he had done well with his speech," Vis said, adding that the pair had already been exposed to American politics at its worst via television commercials at their hotel. "He was right on the button."

There were some local Democratic faces in the crowd who offered their unabashed support for Clinton's appearance and message.

"You could just see the chemistry he developed with the audience," said Wylie Aitken, an attorney and chairman of the Orange County Democratic Foundation. "It was classic Bill Clinton. He recognized the opposition in the air and got right to the root of the problem. I think that stunned them."

Anaheim City Councilman Irv Pickler, a Democrat who is running for a seat in the state Assembly, also gushed his approval of the President's message.

"He's done the best job I know of but doesn't get the credit because of all the partisan political stuff that goes on," the longtime councilman said. "All we are doing is hurting ourselves with all this fighting between Republicans and Democrats. It's got to end. I'm getting too old for it."

"Clinton came in here, foreign political turf really, and handled himself well," Pickler said. "He did an excellent job."

Clinton reserved time for some partisan politics of his own, attending a private reception for local Democrats immediately after his address.


Bob McDonough, a San Juan Capistrano businessman who was invited to the reception inside the Convention Center, said the President talked of his hope that public opinion would turn against Proposition 187, the state ballot measure that would deny social services, public education and non-emergency health care to illegal immigrants.

During the reception, McDonough said, Clinton appeared optimistic that Californians would vote against the measure and for Dianne Feinstein and Kathleen Brown, the Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate and governor, respectively.

"The President expressed the opinion that both (Feinstein and Brown) have every possibility to come out the winners," McDonough said.

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