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Kemp Courts Minority Voters in L.A.

Campaign: Candidate attends Chinatown festival, meets with black ministers. Then he pops in on Dodgers-Padres game.

September 29, 1996|BOB SIPCHEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Continuing to buck the Republican stereotype of indifference to minority voters, Republican vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp spent Saturday meeting with African American supporters and campaigning in Chinatown.

He capped the day by hugging a prominent Italian American Angeleno--Tommy Lasorda--and then sat with the former Dodger manager for several innings of the team's sold-out game with the San Diego Padres.

Kemp's sole official campaign event was an afternoon appearance at the moon festival at an elementary school in Chinatown. Escorted to the stage by a costumed procession of traditional Chinese lion dancers, Kemp offered a message clearly designed to distance himself from perceptions of intolerance connected to his party's embrace of measures to limit affirmative action and immigrants' rights.

"I can understand the anxieties of people concerned about scapegoating, the anxieties . . . of people who have the finger pointed at them as if somehow they are hurting the state of California," he said. "There are those who say California has been hurt by immigration," Kemp added a moment later. "Let me say it more clearly--California has been enhanced by immigration."

Kemp received a generally warm response from the crowd of about 200 people attending the festival, an annual autumn event based on the lunar calendar and Chinese mythology.

"I think he has come up with a better tax plan," said banker Wilson Tang, referring to the 15% income tax cut the Dole-Kemp ticket has endorsed.

In a fleeting moment of apprehension, Secret Service agents protecting the Kemp campaign handcuffed and briefly detained a man found to be carrying a handgun. He was released after being identified as a security guard hired by Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Antonovich, a campaign staffer said.

Earlier in the day, Kemp attended an impromptu meeting with about 30 Southern California black ministers and GOP activists at a Century City hotel.

That informal discussion focused on ways for the party to attract more minority voters, said Frank Ellmore, an official with the Congress for Racial Equality. "The Democratic Party has a perceived lock on black voters," he said. "We would like to unlock the mind-set of black voters to the possibilities in the Republican Party."

The meeting was organized by the Rev. E.V. Hill, pastor of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, who called Kemp an "old friend."

"He's pro-business, pro-entrepreneur and pro-family values, and you'll find all these people to be the same," Hill said.

Kemp wound up his day at Dodger Stadium, where Lasorda greeted him and his wife, Joanne, with a present of two Dodgers jackets.

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