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A Memo to Clinton From the Delegates

As Monitor reporters roved the floor of the Democratic convention, they heard recurring themes from many of the delegates. Delegate views are represented in the following "memo."

TO: President Clinton

FROM: Convention Delegates

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RE: Priorities for Second a Term

We're feeling pretty confident, Mr. President, that you'll be reelected in November. Given that you're trying to balance the budget, we thought we'd spare Washington the expense of flying us back to the White House for policy sessions in January, and so pooled our thoughts on your second term while we were all under the same roof in the Windy City.

Let's get the ugly stuff out of the way first. Remember Mary Louise Williams? She taught Chelsea's kindergarten in Little Rock, Ark. You used to drop off your daughter on your way to the governor's office. Well, Ms. Williams isn't too happy about the welfare bill you signed last week. Neither are we. So here are some thoughts on how to undo the damage:

"Create more jobs," says Toby Ritch, a state representative from Wilson, N.C. If you're not going to guarantee assistance to poor people who need it, at least make sure there are enough jobs. And while you're at it, raise the minimum wage even higher.

"If you came to Texas," says Red Peters of Watauga, Texas, "I'd like to take you into the industrial plants, to the public-health hospitals to get the real story. All of these people they claim are on welfare - I find very few people that are able to do a day's work for a day's wages."

Your opponent, Bob Dole, seems to think everything was so much better back in the days before that great Democrat Franklin Roosevelt gave us a New Deal. Just so you're clear about this, Mr. President, those days weren't so great.

Our friend Gerald Underwood of Trinity, N.C., should know. He was there: "Back then, during the Depression, there was just as much drug abuse and crime and teen pregnancy. We just didn't hear so much about it. When a girl got pregnant, she was whisked off to her aunt's house in another county. Who wants to go back to that?"

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Don't abandon the poor, Mr. President. And, Williams adds, don't forget the children.

Before we drift too far from the subject of jobs, sir, let us just thank you for the 10 million you gave us during the last four years. Our working-class brethren applaud you. But we need more than just new jobs. As you know, we need to protect those already on the job. That means, as firefighter Steve Warner of Fairfax, Calif., points out, "complete health care for all Americans, collective bargaining rights, and pensions that are protected" from corporate raiders.

Anne Rand, our friend from Maine, would like to stress the point about health care: "If you don't cover everyone, it's like the jello syndrome, some people will always pop out." Some of us are a little lost on her metaphor, but we recognize a call for universal coverage when we hear one.

You're definitely on the right course with education. Your college-tuition tax credit is a fine idea. In fact, we see education as the most important antidote to many social challenges, including one that hasn't gotten a lot of attention so far in this election: racism. "You must increase the probability of more people going to college," says Monroe Mack of Tampa, Fla., "hopefully in a manner that will smooth out the racial and class tensions in this country."

Pay heed to race, sir. We're the party of inclusion. Take the lead. "Race is overlapping every issue in America," says Lawrence Guyot, a Washington D.C. delegate. "You should convene a national conference."

We don't have many thoughts on trade, sir, but if you could impose some stiff import barriers against whatever country sent us the "Macarena," we'd be grateful.

And while we're on foreign policy, we'd like to encourage you to keep searching for peace in the Middle East and in Bosnia. We know it's hard. As Mike Degrandis of Cleveland points out, being Winston Churchill isn't so easy anymore: "Before, it was a simple situation. You had communism. Now it's a lot more complicated."

There are other issues, sir. Bill Bradbury from Bandon, Ore., is worried about the salmon in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, we're all pretty upset about GOP efforts to pave over the environment.

And Frankie Sue Delpapa of Nevada would like to hear a lot more civility in public discourse. We applaud you for discouraging gratuitous remarks about Republicans at our convention.

But since we're running out of space, we'll end with this last piece of advice: Pull out your sax more.

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