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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Clinton Gets Boost From Big Business

STAMFORD, Connecticut -- U.S. President Bill Clinton sought to counter his challenger's charge that he is a "liberal'' by basking in an organized endorsement from some 2,500 business leaders Monday as the presidential candidates hit the road to capitalize on Sunday night's debate.


While Bob Dole toured New Jersey, pushing his tax-cut plan, Clinton's campaign staged a corporate endorsement rally with two purposes in mind: backing up Clinton's assertion that the country is better off now than when he took office and demonstrating that he is not, as Dole contends, a liberal.


While the words and pictures might cause more traditional members of Clinton's party to shudder, they supplied exactly what the president was looking for.


"There's a growing realization by corporate America that Democrat Bill Clinton has been good for American business,'' said William Esrey, the chairman and chief executive officer of Sprint Corp., who voted for then-President Bush four years ago.


"We share a common view,'' said Paul Allaire, chairman and CEO of Stamford-based Xerox Corp., who was among 300 business leaders actually present for the event -- the rest of the endorsements were delivered in writing. "The president is good for America and good for business,'' Allaire added.


Clinton savored the event, which aides asserted involved the largest number of business executives ever to endorse a Democratic presidential candidate. Clinton said he had "wondered for years why the Democratic Party should not have at least as much or more support from American business as the other party.''


Dole, for his part, borrowed one of Clinton's trademarks -- boarding a bus as part of a caravan to travel through a state that his strategists have long believed should be receptive to his tax-cutting message.


In 1993, New Jersey voters gave a come-from-behind victory to Christine Todd Whitman, who ran for governor with a campaign centered on a promise of tax cuts. As a result, Dole aides have seen her campaign as a model for their own.


But so far, Dole's message has not caught on any better in New Jersey than it has elsewhere, and with 30 days to the presidential election, Clinton has a double-digit lead in the state -- a finding from published polls that Republican aides acknowledge matches their own.


Meanwhile, Dole clearly saw a need to defend his own record on education, a flashpoint in Sunday's presidential debate, as well as on entitlement spending. Clinton had challenged Dole repeatedly on the subject during the debate, noting past votes by Dole to cut education spending and insisting that his budget plan would require further cuts.


"We're not going to touch Medicare, we're not going to touch Social Security, we're not going to touch education -- all the things President Clinton talks about,'' Dole said.


But Dole aides insisted later that the candidate did not mean that he would make education spending immune from future budget cutting.