The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on September 26, 1996 · Page 3
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 3

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Salina, Kansas
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Thursday, September 26, 1996
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Page 3
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THE SALINA JOURNAL CAMPAIGN '96 THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 26. 1996 A3 Dole faces tough chore in criticizing economy Economic numbers are falling Clinton's way during election year By JOHN KING The Associated Press ROYAL OAK, Mich. — Tim Martin wasn't selling many cars four years ago. Unhappy with George Bush and worried that a Democrat would make things worse, he voted for Ross Perot, "just to protest, to shake things up." This time around, Martin carries a photograph of his glistening new 39-foot boat, proving things are better, and he gives President Clinton some of the credit. "I can't throw rocks at the guy," he says. "Things have been doggone good for my business the past 2% years." Similar tales are easy to come by along Main Street in Royal Oak, a predominantly blue-collar suburb north of Detroit. It is a place where Republicans must hold support of GOP voters and win votes from conservative Democrats if they are to succeed •statewide. < "I'm not getting rich, but I'm making a living," Dan Davis said as he arranged new fall selections on the racks of his clothing store. "Things have picked up a little bit lately." This is the tide Republican Bob Dole must swim against as he tries to erase Clinton leads in the big industrial battleground states. Dole's strategy: promote his plan to cut taxes by 15 percent and as- • sert that the economy would be far stronger if Clinton were unemployed. "This economy is not good enough and not on the right track," Dole declared Tuesday in Detroit, his third visit to Michigan in a month. But the numbers clearly break in Clinton's favor. Four years ago, the unemployment rate in Michigan was 9 percent, now it is half that. In Illinois the rate has fallen from 8.4 percent in the summer of 1992 to 5.3 percent. It is much the same in Pennsylvania and Ohio, where the unemployment rate has fallen to 5 percent or lower in Clinton's term. New Jersey stands out with a 6.1 percent jobless rate, but that is still down from nearly 10 percent four years ago. So it is little wonder Clinton leads Dole in every one of these big electoral states — by double digits in all but Ohio. "It's difficult to argue you need a change," concedes Republican strategist Linda DiVall. "Bob Dole needs to say his economic package is not just about a tax cut but about who does the spending — the government or the family. If he can frame the argument that way and personalize it, he can break through." Perhaps, but a walk along Royal Oak's Main Street leaves little doubt of the difficult task Dole faces four years after Clinton ran on a pledge to lift the economy out of recession. Not that everyone is convinced it is running at full throttle. "Business is fairly flat," said Nissa Naoma, a 22-year-old shoe store clerk. But even many people like her who thought things were still a bit sluggish voiced little faith in Dole's ability to bring improvement — or opposed his candidacy for some other reason. "Maybe it's me, but I just don't believe any of them, don't think it matters," said Brian Kimball, who runs a vacuum-repair shop and voted for Bush four years jigo. "Probably Clinton, just be- pause he has the experience now," was how Kimball described his unenthusiastic view of this year's race, Naoma said she was intrigued after reading an account of Dole's tax-cut plan, but then stopped herself in midsentence to say, "But I can't support him. I'm pro-choice. And I worry he would have to cut education to pay for it." CLINTON DOLE Beneath the daily Clinton-Dole tug-of-war over economic details, there is a growing, general optimism that is benefiting the incumbent. In a new Michigan survey, only 10 percent of respondents said they expected their personal financial situation to deteriorate in the next year. For the first time in four years, the survey found voters had a positive view of the direction of both their state and country. And, by 2-to-l, respondents said Clinton made them more optimistic about the future than Dole did. Likewise, six in 10 Ohio voters in a new poll thought the United States was headed in the right direction. Sixty-two percent predicted their family finances would remain about the same, while 32 per- cent said they expected to be better off and only 6 percent predicted things would take a turn for the worse in the next year. Here in Oakland County, Republicans average 54 percent in presidential elections, although Bush fell to 41 percent in the three-way 1992 race. In a new EPIC-MRA survey, Clinton led Dole 55 percent to 33 percent in the county, with just 4 percent backing Perot. Clinton also has had some luck. The popular Republican governors who think they deserve more credit than Clinton for the strong industrial state economies aren't on the ballot this year. And Tuesday's Federal Reserve decision to hold interest rates steady through the election denied Dole fresh evidence for his argument that Clinton policies are taking too much money from taxpayers' wallets. Davis, the clothing-store owner who backed Bush in 1988 and then Clinton in 1992, offered Dole this glimmer of hope. "Things still aren't as good as they were during Reagan in the mid-'80s, so I'll listen," he said. "I'm not sure Dole or any of them will do what they say. 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