In a highly partisan pep talk for his home state Democrats, President Clinton bashed the Republican-controlled Congress for opposing "our whole agenda."
"It's unbelievable," an animated Clinton said Saturday about GOP efforts to stop his program for putting 100,000 additional police officers on the streets even as the national crime rates fall.Appearing at a morning meeting of the Arkansas State Democratic Committee, Clinton said Democrats need to find not just good candidates but candidates with good ideas. He cited examples of changes his administration has fought for against Republican opposition since 1993.
"We have proved what works in education, and yet, they're still saying `no' to smaller classes, `no' to better school buildings, `no' to so many of our efforts to improve the education of our children," Clinton said.
He ticked off a list of other issues that have drawn partisan opposition, including his administration's environmental priorities and its proposal for a health care patient's bill of rights.
"By and large, our whole agenda is being opposed by the leaders of the other party," Clinton said.
Among those in the president's audience were Bill Bristow, Democratic candidate for governor, and Blanche Lincoln, the former U.S. congresswoman who is running for the Senate seat of retiring Democrat Dale Bumpers. Clinton attended a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee dinner Saturday night to raise money for Lincoln.
In his first visit to Arkansas this year, Clinton got a warm welcome from state Democrats.
"In this room, and in this state, you are with people who are proud of your accomplishments as president," Bristow said in remarks introducing Clinton. They are people "who know that your leadership has contributed peace and prosperity, and who are sick and tired of those who want to hide that fact," he said.
Setting the stage for Clinton's highly political remarks, Bristow poked at the Republicans for "truth jamming, tolerant banning, opinion ramming, . . . sore loser whining."
Among the targets of Clinton's political jabs was Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., whom Clinton said had "jerked away" federal funds that had been sought for a highway project in southern Arkansas.
Clinton said that wouldn't have happened if Democrats were in charge of Congress. "I say that because, what the heck, I never get to be partisan, and it's nice to be home," Clinton said.
Following an afternoon round of golf with his brother, Roger, and several friends in 100-degree temperatures, Clinton stopped briefly at the home of longtime Democratic fund-raiser Maurice Mitchell for a gathering to raise money for the state party's fall election campaigns.
Clinton said he was pressing Democratic candidates in Arkansas and elsewhere to campaign hard this fall because voter turnout is usually lower in a non-presidential election year.
"I think we're going to be very grateful on election night in November," he said in unusually brief remarks.