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Dole, Kemp Blast Foes' 'Fear' Tactics

Politics: Candidates push economic agenda during joint appearance in Michigan. Campaign plans ad attacking Clinton on drug abuse.

September 14, 1996|EDWIN CHEN and GEBE MARTINEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

SAGINAW, Mich. — Campaigning together for the first time since Labor Day, Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole and running mate Jack Kemp on Friday portrayed their Democratic foes as fearmongers and offered themselves as the alternatives with an optimistic economic agenda for a more prosperous America.

Altering President Franklin D. Roosevelt's famous Depression-era line, Kemp told several thousand boisterous supporters in an airport hangar here that "the only thing Bill Clinton has to offer is fear."

Increasingly, the GOP presidential ticket has been focusing its fire on President Clinton, complaining particularly that Democratic ads unfairly accuse Dole of wanting to slash spending for such programs as Social Security and Medicare.

On Friday, a Dole campaign official said a new GOP ad to begin airing early next week will take Clinton to task for failing to do more to fight drug abuse. Gary Koops, the campaign's deputy press secretary, said the ad "clearly will talk about Clinton's record on the drug issue and the rise of drug use among teenagers."

Koops also disputed a report out of Republican circles that the Dole campaign would start reducing its ad spending in vote-rich California. "I can assure you that next week we are spending more there than we did this week," he said.

Dole, known to be frustrated that his "pro-growth" economic agenda is not better known, vowed at the Michigan stop to continue "grinding our message out." He then did just that, seeking to assure his audience that his call for massive tax cuts is workable.

Dole and Kemp delivered much the same message later in the day at a rally on a farm at Normal, Ill.

In Michigan--one of the Midwestern states considered crucial to Dole's hopes of victory--the GOP nominee repeated what has become a mantra for him: It is possible to enact a tax cut that will reduce federal revenues by $548 billion over six years while balancing the federal budget--simply by cutting 5 cents out of every dollar in non-defense discretionary spending.

"The key . . . is simple--we just have to slow the rate of increase in federal spending," Dole said.

His plan's centerpiece--a proposed 15% cut in income tax rates--would still allow for a 39% growth rate in Medicare and a 34% growth rate in Social Security, Dole said.

"So if you're a senior citizen, don't worry about it," Dole said at the Saginaw rally. "We'll get it done."

But he acknowledged that his economic projections include a budget resolution previously passed by the GOP-dominated Congress that contains $168 billion in savings from Medicare spending.

Republicans characterized the reductions as a slowdown in the program's growth, but Democrats continue to portray the proposal as a "cut" they say will hurt the elderly--an argument Dole, Kemp, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and other GOP leaders vehemently refute.

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An analysis released Friday by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation was seized upon by Democrats as another opportunity to bash the Dole tax plan. The analysis estimated that the plan would cost the federal government $1.1 trillion over 10 years--essentially in line with Dole campaign estimates.

But Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) said the congressional projection showed vividly how hard it would be to balance the budget under the Dole tax-cut plan.

"As we suspected, Dole's trillion-dollar proposal leaves him a choice between two evils: cutting Medicare and Social Security or digging our children another trillion dollars in debt," Rangel said.

Dole and Kemp contend that the tax cuts would spur economic growth, producing tax revenue that would offset much of the cost of the plan.

Earlier in the day, Dole appeared in Wauseon, Ohio, where he spoke at another in a series of "listening to America" sessions where community and business leaders are convened to pose questions, allowing the former senator to detail various components of his campaign agenda.

Times staff writers Eleanor Randolph in New York and Janet Hook in Washington contributed to this story.

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