Refusing to be ignored, Jerry Brown arrived in New York Saturday with his own party “platform” and started writing a speech to deliver to the Democratic convention--whether Bill Clinton likes it or not.
Clearly in no mood to be a good party soldier and embrace the Clinton-Gore ticket, Brown decided that rather than dicker with the Democratic hierarchy over terms of his being allowed to address the convention, he would take advantage of a little-noticed rule and speak anyway when his name is placed in nomination Wednesday night.
“He’s definitely going to talk and he’s already working on the remarks,” reported Brown’s press secretary, Mark Nykanen.
Brown rode into New York from Washington on a train. But unlike the halcyon days of his campaign last March when he could fill an Amtrak car with TV crews and reporters, no members of the news media accompanied the former California governor on his trek to the party’s national convention.
Hundreds of cheering supporters and some reporters met Brown at Pennsylvania Station, however. And the maverick presidential aspirant--still acting like a candidate although Clinton’s nomination has been assured for two months--said that the Arkansas governor and his running mate, Tennessee Sen. Albert Gore Jr., must do more than “just say ‘We’re change agents, we’re a new generation’ ” to gain his support and that of the roughly 4 million voters who backed him in the primaries.
“Personally I’m not in a big hurry,” Brown replied when asked when he might endorse Clinton. “The big campaigning begins after Labor Day. We’re here for a convention. There’s very little suspense and surprise left and we certainly don’t want to eliminate it entirely.”
Brown derided the party officials and delegates who he said during the convention would be “standing around big tubs of giant shrimp paid for by lobbyists and all the special interests that I came here to fight.”
As for himself, Brown said he plans to spend tonight in a transition home for the homeless--described by aides as one cut above a shelter--and serve the down-and-out at a soup kitchen on Monday. Most nights, however, he will be staying at the home of author Joan Didion.
No way, Brown said, could he support the party platform written by a Clinton-dominated committee. “It’s full of gooey and imprecise language,” he said.
Therefore, Brown released his own “We the People” platform, a 34-page document that was anything but imprecise.
“Our democratic system has been the object of a hostile takeover engineered by a confederacy of corruption, careerism and campaign consulting,” the platform contends, echoing Brown’s basic campaign message. “Money has been the lubricant greasing the deal.”
Among other things, Brown’s platform calls for offering voters “a binding none-of-the-above option” on their ballots.
But there was nothing in the platform about the flat tax--Brown’s controversial proposal that became a huge target for Clinton during the New York primary and contributed to the Californian’s downfall.
Brown, here with 614 committed delegates, told reporters he had not been offered an opportunity to address the convention. But he added, “I’ll have an opportunity if I choose.”
Nykanen later said that Brown had decided to use some of the 20 minutes his campaign had been allotted for placing his name in nomination. And he expects to use the precious minutes to deliver his “take back America” message, not unite behind the party ticket as Democratic officials had demanded, the spokesman said.
Party Chairman Ronald H. Brown told reporters Saturday that “I have had a number of conversations with Jerry Brown and Jerry is being Jerry . . . . We expect everybody who speaks at the convention to be supportive of the ticket.” But, he noted, “this has been a strange campaign season.”