1992 Presidential Election Essay Research Paper 1992

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1992 Presidential Election Essay, Research Paper 1992 Presidential Election As the voting began in the New Hampshire primary, there were only five serious contenders for the Democratic nomination. The list included Paul Tsongas (Mass.), Bill Clinton (Ark.), Tom Harkin, Jerry Brown (California), and Bob Kerrey (Neb.). Clinton s strategy was to present himself as a candidate of substance by offering specific proposals that addressed most of the major problems facing the U.S. He positioned himself as a visionary leader by proposing bold programs for change. This played well to middle class Americans worried about the economy and their jobs. Clinton proposed middle class tax cuts, health insurance for all Americans, education and welfare reform, tax credits for capital

investments in plant and equipment, and a 100 billion cut in military spending. Although some of the candidates made similar proposals, they often sounded vague and uncommitted. None provided the details that made Clinton sound so confident and his programs so believable. Without clear programs of their own, Clinton s primary opponents were reduced to focusing on the politics of morality and to attacking his personal character. In particular Paul Tsongas, the candidate of pain, attacked both Clinton’s proposed tax cuts and his character. He accused Clinton of lying to the American public with promises of quick fixes to the economy. He believed the economy would only improve with time and sacrifice. Bob Kerrey attacked the tax neutrality of Clinton’s universal health

insurance. Kerrey claimed that it could only work with additional tax money. By the time of the New Hampshire, primary the national press and television had anointed Bill Clinton as the Democratic front runner. The press believed the only way the Democrats could win in November was to chose a candidate moderate enough to win back the middle-class voters, especially Southern whites. Given the other Democratic candidates, Clinton became the media s choice by default. Clinton virtually unknown nationally, benefited from the additional attention he was given by the press. Compared to his opponents Clinton’s primary campaign was well organized and well funded. While the others struggled to find funding, Clinton s nearly four million-dollar war chest allowed him to outspend the

others on advertising and support staff. He had received two million after the New Hampshire primary, in addition to a million in federal matching funds. Tsangas won Feb. 18th New Hampshire primary (33%), with Clinton coming in a strong second (25%). On Super Tuesday, March 10th Clinton swept seven of the eleven Southern and border states. This made him a clear leader with a delegate count of 763. Clinton was then surprised by Brown s victory in Connecticut on March 24. In April Clinton went on to claim victories in New New York, Wisconsin and Kansas bringing his total delegate count to 1,273. Finally, Clinton eliminated Brown by beating him 48% to 40% in his home state of California. Clinton would go to the convention with a total of 2,511 delegates, far more than the 2,145

needed to cinch the nomination. Clinton s choice of a running mate on the baby boomer ticket was Al Gore (Tenn.). An important factor was Clinton s personal and political comfort level with Gore. Politically both were self-confident moderates with new ideas for change. Personally both had a blue ribbon education, both were Southern Baptists, who married strong assertive wives, and both were young (middle forties). With Gore on the ticket, several of Clinton’s voids would be filled. Tipper Gores crusade against obscene music lyrics helped to quiet continuing questions about Clinton’s character. As the democratic leader on environmental issues, Gore appealed to the West Coast voters. As the son of a wealthy and influential family (his father was a three term senator) he would