Convention Tidbits: A Squabble, Parties Galore, An Arm Twisting Ambassador...
Convention euphoria hasn't prevented a nasty squabble over money between the Democratic Establishment and the triumphant Clinton campaign. By law, from now on Clinton can spend only public funds. But the Democratic National Committee can spend $10.3 million on behalf of Clinton and an unlimited amount in get-out-the-vote and "voter education" efforts. But Clintonites contend that the DNC executive committee--packed with liberal supporters of Jesse Jackson and Michael S. Dukakis in 1988--just wants to throw parties for friends. And they gripe that DNC Chairman Ronald H. Brown has been slow to help Clinton retire $4 million in debt left from the primary campaign.
The unhappy Clintonites are considering a hostile takeover of the party's fund-raising apparatus. "I was hoping for a merger," says Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago fund-raiser detailed by the Clinton campaign to the DNC last month. "We may have to make this an acquisition." Meantime, Emanuel has set a rigorous money-raising schedule to reach out to new contributors. The assault was scheduled to begin the night of Clinton's acceptance speech with a $3 million fund-raiser in New York--to be followed by soirees in Houston, San Francisco, Chicago, and New Orleans. Rahm aims to raise $40 million before November.
Could super-pol Robert S. Strauss sit quietly in Moscow while fellow Democrats celebrated in New York? Hardly. George Bush's favorite Democrat, the ambassador to the Russian Federation, dipped one toe into the partisan proceedings. On July 13, just before the parlay began, Strauss appeared at a coffee given by friends at New York's Waldorf-Astoria. But instead of playing his former role as fund-raiser par excellence, Strauss says he boosted chances for passage of the Administration's Russian-aid package by twisting the arms of the Democratic lawmakers in attendance. "Hell, I think I got four or five votes out of it," he says, adding that he cleared the trip with Secretary of State James A. Baker III.
Republicans may be the party of big business, but the Democrats still wangled corporate sponsorship for convention events. Delta Air Lines, Dillon Read, Pfizer, and Merrill Lynch were among those hosting parties for state delegations. Bear Stearns & Co. feted three states--even though chief Alan Greenberg is co-chairman of New York for Perot. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz snagged the prize--hosting Arkansas delegates, plus Hillary Clinton, at a barbecue in the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Senior litigation partner Bernard Nussbaum says he arranged the party last fall "when no one was competing" for Clinton's home state. "We asked for a small state," he deadpans.
Labor contingents at Democratic conventions used to be dominated by burly auto workers, miners, and machinists. No more. The labor caucuses are made up mostly of teachers and social workers. Of the 1,028 labor delegates, nearly 700 came from three public-employee unions--the National Education Assn., the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, and the American Federation of Teachers. All three declared for Clinton early. Most big industrial unions put their chips on the liberal Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa.
The growing political clout of the public-employee unions poses a problem: Clinton must convince the public that he can make government work. But public workers are likely to resist any real reform.
Ross Perot seems to be winning the ever-more-important campaign slogan race, according to House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo). Perot's "I'll Fix It" is a far better line than the Democratic Convention's theme--"Putting People First"--he says.
MAKING A CHOICE?
The National Abortion Rights Action League is officially nonpartisan, but NARAL Executive Director Kate Michelman nonetheless made a prominent appearance at the convention podium during a floor demonstration in support of the abortion-rights platform plank. And NARAL plans to campaign extensively on behalf of pro-choice candidates in large swing states such as Pennsylvania and Illinois, which, as it happens, have also been targeted by the Clinton campaign.