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Clinton Vows 8 Million Jobs in New TV Ad

TIMES POLITICAL WRITER

Mixing the beaming faces of small-town children, none-too-subtle reassurances about his Arkansas record and a vow to create 8 million new jobs in the next four years, Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton today will launch his first television advertisements of the 1992 general election campaign.

The new strategy constitutes an attempt by Clinton to regain traction after weeks in which the candidate has been put on the defensive by relentless criticism from President Bush and his Republican surrogates.

“This ad puts out a positive message about Bill Clinton, about Bill Clinton’s campaign, about his record in Arkansas and about his plans for the United States,” the campaign’s communications director, George Stephanopoulos, said in Little Rock Sunday. “It’s an important message to get out.”

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The commercials, which will run in several states but not in California, are meant to persuade voters that Clinton has helped his small, economically troubled state make progress. Much of the Republican assault recently has centered on Arkansas’ economic conditions.

In comparing Clinton’s stewardship of his state and Bush’s leadership of the nation, the advertisements suggest a somewhat rosier picture of Arkansas than even Clinton normally presents.

“Arkansas now leads the nation in job growth,” the ad says. “Incomes are rising at twice the national rate. Seventeen thousand people moved from welfare to work. That’s progress, and that’s what we need now. Change. Real solutions.”

The jobs pledge was a first for Clinton, who has vowed to regenerate the American economy through investment programs that would create jobs--but has not, until now, predicted how many.

Stephanopoulos, who unveiled the commercials at the campaign’s national headquarters here, said the jobs figure would derive from Clinton’s plans to convert defense savings to domestic programs, to require companies to train workers and to install an investment tax credit for American corporations.

“If you implement Bill Clinton’s economic plan and if we have the kind of recovery that that program can create, 8 million jobs is a very reasonable projection,” he said.

The Bush campaign ridiculed Clinton’s pledge, with spokeswoman Torie Clarke saying the gesture “flies in the face of reality.”

“He has absolutely promised $150 billion in new taxes and $220 billion in new additional government spending, which will wipe out jobs rather than create them,” she said.

Specific promises like the one in the ad always carry risk, as Clinton well knows: He has been hammering Bush for reneging on his 1988 promise to create 30 million jobs over eight years.

Nevertheless, the campaign appeared to have decided to hit the airwaves in the last days of summer, when attention on politics normally takes a back seat to vacations, to regain its footing.

Although he still leads Bush in national polls, Clinton’s margin has shrunk since before the Republican Convention. And the Democratic campaign has shown signs of slipping from the aggressive and focused stance it projected after its July convention.

Last week, for example, Clinton’s pro-active message was limited to a fuzzy contention that he represents a “can do” activism, while Bush represents a “can’t do” status quo. But the framework was filled out more with stories of the suffering Americans he had met than with a sharpened comparison of Clinton and Bush.

Altogether, the candidate has spent much of his recent time on the defensive.

In Michigan, the President recently scored Clinton for supporting tougher fuel efficiency standards for automobiles, contending that the result would be layoffs in the auto industry. Clinton softened his advocacy of the fuel standards by saying he would be “flexible.”

Vice President Dan Quayle has launched several wholesale attacks on Clinton’s economic plan and his governorship of Arkansas. On Sunday he said the Democrat’s proposals for the nation would require vast tax increases.

Quayle, interviewed on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” maintained that “Bill Clinton feels that you create more jobs by raising taxes.”

On Sunday, as he left church in Little Rock, Clinton again defended his record.

“Bush and Quayle signed the second-biggest tax increase in history. Arkansas has the second-lowest tax burden in the country,” said Clinton, who had no public appearances on Sunday.

Neither did President Bush, who was at Camp David, Md.

The footage of the new Clinton ad was largely shot on the Middle America bus tours the candidate and his running mate, Tennessee Sen. Al Gore, have taken since the Democratic Convention. Included are portraits of flag-waving supporters, apple-cheeked children and a tractor bedecked with a Clinton for President banner.

The Arkansas governor’s campaign was coy about exactly where it would air--other than to say “several” states, but not California.

“You’ll find out on your own,” Stephanopoulos said, adding later that the Clinton team did not want to signal its intentions to Bush.

California was exempted, the campaign aide suggested, because Clinton currently holds a comfortable lead there.

“You go to states where you know you are going to have to play hard the whole way,” he said.

“This is just a first buy. This is by no means an indication of where we’re going to play exclusively.”


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