Clinton Triumphs in New York : Tsongas, Who Quit Race, Edges Brown for 2nd : Primaries: The Arkansas governor also wins Kansas and leads in Wisconsin. Bush again gets most GOP delegates, but the protest vote is strong in one state.
Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton swept to victory in the New York primary Tuesday to reclaim command of the Democratic presidential campaign after several wrenching and divisive weeks of political battling.
Clinton also won the Kansas primary and held a slim lead in Wisconsin over former California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr., the only other major Democrat still active in the race. And Clinton was ahead of Brown in a “beauty contest” vote in Minnesota, in which no delegates were at stake.
In a surprising turn of events, former Massachusetts Sen. Paul E. Tsongas--who dropped out of the race on March 19--finished second, ahead of Brown, in New York and Kansas. Brown, in fact, came in fourth in Kansas behind “uncommitted.”
Among Republicans, President Bush was guaranteed most of the 197 delegates up for grabs in four GOP contests. In New York, Bush challenger Patrick J. Buchanan was not on the ballot, delivering the state’s 100 delegates to Bush automatically.
But the protest vote that has dogged Bush throughout this cantankerous primary season persisted in Kansas, where Bush won only 62% of the vote. The remaining 38% went to other candidates or uncommitted, including 15% to Buchanan, with 100% of the vote counted.
In other states, Bush won higher percentages.
With 99% of the vote counted in New York’s Democratic race, Clinton had 41% to Tsongas’ 29% and Brown’s 26%. In Kansas, Clinton ran stronger, carrying 51% of the vote to Tsongas’ 15%, with all of the votes counted. Uncommitted had 14% and Brown carried 13%.
In Wisconsin, where Brown had been running strong in polls before the primary, Clinton had 38% of the vote to the former California governor’s 35% and Tsongas’ 22%, with 84% of the vote tallied.
Minnesota’s primary was not binding, but Brown was running close to Clinton. The Arkansas governor had 33% of the vote to Brown’s 32% and Tsongas’ 22%, with 93% of the votes counted.
Clinton’s victories were strong in geography and in percentage, and he greeted supporters at a New York nightclub as, once again, his party’s presumptive nominee.
“I say this may be the best New York story since the Amazing Mets in 1969,” he said, referring to that year’s surprise World Series winners.
“Their slogan back then should be our motto tonight--'you gotta believe,’ ” Clinton said, in remarks that could have been directed to the party leaders and voters who have been doubting his chances.
“You gotta believe we can get our economy moving again. You gotta believe we can win again. You gotta believe we can be one again.”
Tsongas, the second-place finisher in New York, has flirted this week with re-entering the race. In an impromptu press conference in the front yard of his Lowell, Mass., home, the shirt-sleeved former candidate said he would decide later this week whether to dive in again.
“Let me say, the message survives and the message lives,” said Tsongas, who had staked his candidacy on a harsh message of economic realities. “The message has real power.”
Tsongas said he had consulted with Democratic officials and supporters and would make a decision Thursday or Friday at the earliest. He said there had been “very little discussion” between his campaign and Clinton’s.
For Brown, who was celebrating his 54th birthday after a never-say-die campaign in New York, the results had to be sobering. But he retained his public optimism and insisted that he was in the race to stay.
Citing--and misquoting--naval hero John Paul Jones, Brown declared: “I have just begun to fight.”
The correct quote is: “I have not yet begun to fight.”
But he inched closer to what seemed an acknowledgment of the extremely long odds of his winning the nomination.
“This is about real change, and real change doesn’t happen in one election and one state,” said Brown, who has not ruled out a return presidential bid in four years.
Bush did no overt campaigning in the weeks leading up to the GOP contests. In a statement issued by the White House, he called the results “another endorsement of our proposals for fundamental reform.”
In Minnesota, Bush had 68% to Buchanan’s 25%, with 93% of the votes counted. And in Wisconsin, he had 77% to Buchanan’s 17%, with 84% of the vote tallied.
As word spread of his projected victories throughout the day Tuesday, Clinton seemed increasingly to be reaching out to the other candidates--official or not--to develop a united front for the fall general election.
“I think, if you look at it in different ways, the Brown campaign, the Tsongas campaign and our campaign have each taken a different part of a message of change to the American people,” Clinton told reporters in Arkansas before he flew to New York.
“And there is wisdom in all of them, and they proved that, if we can find a way to weld them all together in the best possible way, that we can change this country and win (the fall) election.”
Four states may have been holding simultaneous contests Tuesday, but the main stage was riotous New York, where Brown and Clinton came face to face with political factions unseen in any other environment.
The primary put them before the most diverse electorate of the campaign and challenged their ability to form the types of coalitions needed for victory here. It was in pulling together the majority of most voter groups--including blacks and Jewish voters--that Clinton was scoring a broad, across-the-board victory.
The Arkansas governor entered the day with 1,101 delegates, more than half of the 2,145 necessary for nomination in July’s party convention in New York. And he appeared poised to collect the lion’s share of the delegates at stake Tuesday--244 in New York, 82 in Wisconsin and 36 in Kansas. Minnesota has 78 delegates, but they technically are not bound by Tuesday’s results.
A delegate computation had Clinton winning 194 delegates Tuesday.
Besides winning all 100 New York delegates, Bush appeared to have won the 35 delegates in Wisconsin, Kansas’ 30 and 22 of the 32 at stake in Minnesota. Early indications were that Buchanan won eight delegates, with uncommitted gaining one. Perennial candidate Harold Stassen got one delegate.
Going into Tuesday, Clinton was hoping that convincing victories would silence growing concerns among party leaders and voters that his candidacy had been unalterably weakened by assorted controversies. And Brown, trying mightily to stake his claim among disaffected voters, had predicted victory in New York and Wisconsin.
Brown campaigned in New York even as voters were going to the polls. At one stop, virtually hidden by a horde of reporters at a Brooklyn senior citizens’ center, he said in typical Brown fashion that the day’s results would mean “one of three things.”
“We’re going to do very well, or come close or not do well. It means whatever it means . . . . And I’m telling you, we’re going to surprise people.”
Clinton began his day in Arkansas, where he attended the funeral of Wal-Mart entrepreneur Sam Walton, who died Sunday. The governor also was briefed on an unexpected state budget deficit that will require him to cut $20 million in spending over the next three months to comply with the state’s balanced-budget law.
Before Tuesday’s results were known, Clinton expressed skepticism that even a strong victory would force Brown from the campaign. He also said he would not hazard a prediction about Tsongas’ plans.
Clinton, however, clearly was infuriated by the Brown campaign’s last-minute leafleting of New York’s black neighborhoods in which the insurgent candidate compared Arkansas to South Africa. It was “one of the more gutless things I’ve seen a politician do,” Clinton said.
A wild roller coaster of a race in New York and Wisconsin between the two men had been set by Brown’s upset victory over Clinton in the March 24 Connecticut primary and Tsongas’ withdrawal from the race several days earlier. The contest in Kansas was overlooked almost entirely. A brief stop by Clinton on Monday was the only visit to the state by either candidate.
For Clinton, who before the Connecticut loss had signaled that he would consider Bush his opponent and the general election his target, the last two weeks have been the most disruptive since the days leading up to the Feb. 18 New Hampshire primary, when allegations of womanizing and questions about his Vietnam draft status left his campaign hanging in the balance.
Clinton--who recovered from his problems in New Hampshire to stake out an overwhelming lead in the delegate count--stumbled in New York time after time, with national Democratic Party officials wringing their hands all the while. When he came into the state, he was forced to apologize repeatedly for a recent round of golf at an all-white Little Rock, Ark., country club, an incident that threatened his earlier lock on the black vote.
Almost immediately, he got into a well-publicized argument with an AIDS protester, then had to answer repeated questions raised by stories about his actions as governor.
Nine days ago, he sparked renewed questions about his candor when he acknowledged in a New York debate that he had tried marijuana when he was a student at Oxford University. For months, he had answered questions about drug use by saying that he had never broken a U.S. law.
On Sunday, Clinton was ensnarled in new controversy when he acknowledged for the first time that he had received a draft induction notice before joining an ROTC program. Clinton had never mentioned the induction notice in detailed discussions of his draft status in February.
Brown, while trying to capitalize on Clinton’s problems, found the New York experience difficult as well. In the campaign’s final days, he was forced to repeatedly respond to a Times report that some judges he appointed during his last gubernatorial term considered their appointments a quid pro quo for campaign donations. Brown denied that any of his appointments were dictated by contributions.
But the most potentially damaging move he took was in the present. Brown repeatedly embraced the Rev. Jesse Jackson, noting that he has offered the vice presidential nomination to him should Brown overcome long odds to become the nominee. That did not set well with the large population of Jewish voters in New York, where many view Jackson as anti-Semitic.
When not on the defensive, each of the candidates sought to cast himself as the agent of change. As Clinton said two weeks ago: “We both represent change . . . now we get a chance to debate the real issue, which is what kind of change we’re going to have.”
Brown, as he has throughout his campaign, railed against entrenched politicians of both parties, and against Clinton in particular, calling him “the prince of sleaze.”
He pushed his proposed 13% flat tax, which he offers as the best way to restore fairness to the existing tax system. But Clinton, aided by surrogates in Wisconsin and New York, hammered Brown’s proposal as injurious to the poor and the middle class.
The wild card in the race was Tsongas. Having just suspended his campaign, he was little mentioned as the contest began, but he gained prominence as the race between the active candidates turned ever more nasty.
While waves of controversy threatened the Democratic field, the Republican presidential contest barely broke the surface. Because of organizational difficulties, Buchanan was not on the ballot in New York. He did, however, visit Wisconsin and Minnesota, where he asked voters to protest Bush’s policies by sanctioning his candidacy.
Bush appeared to have his focus on November. In his recent public comments, he has all but ignored Buchanan while focusing his fire on the Democrat-controlled Congress.
Results of Primaries
99% of precincts reporting
Dele- Vote % gates Bill Clinton 393,890 41 102 Paul E. Tsongas 279,649 29 75 Jerry Brown 252,402 26 67
GOP: President Bush ran unopposed in New York.
84% of precincts reporting
Dele- Vote % gates Bill Clinton 248,954 38 32 Jerry Brown 228,486 35 32 Paul E. Tsongas 143,884 22 18 Uncommitted 13,485 2 0 REPUBLICANS 84% of precincts reporting Dele- Vote % gates George Bush 310,000 77 35 Patrick Buchanan 67,349 17 0 David Duke 11,008 3 0 Uncommitted 7,745 2 0 KANSAS DEMOCRATS 100% of precincts reporting Dele- Vote % gates Bill Clinton 81,588 51 27 Paul E. Tsongas 24,275 15 6 Jerry Brown 21,029 13 2 Uncommitted 22,037 14 1 Clinton Brown REPUBLICANS 100% of precincts reporting Dele- Vote % gates George Bush 131,901 62 30 Patrick Buchanan 31,629 15 0 David Duke 3,832 2 0 Uncommitted 35,116 16 0 MINNESOTA * DEMOCRATS 93% of precincts reporting Vote % Bill Clinton 57,120 33 Jerry Brown 55,656 32 Paul E. Tsongas 39,932 22 Uncommitted 9,917 6
* Democrats awarded delegates at party caucuses last month. Tuesday’s vote was held only to measure popular support.
93% of precincts reporting
Dele- Vote % gates George Bush 79,551 68 22 Patrick Buchanan 29,901 25 8 Uncommitted 3,857 3 1