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DEMOS SHIFT THEIR FOCUS TO BLUE-COLLAR WORKERS

Bill Clinton was far from subtle when he came to Chicago to court the city's political titans, suggesting Mayor Richard Daley might be the kind of Democrat who'd fit nicely on the ticket.

"I was not pandering to the mayor or anything else," said Clinton, sensitive after being called the "pander bear" by rival Paul Tsongas.Daley chimed in, "I like my job."

Daley, after meeting with Clinton on Wednesday, declined to endorse any of the Democratic candidates, except to say Clinton "does have a vision, he has a heart, he represents the best."

With the campaign now shifting to the nation's industrial heartland, Democrats in particular were focusing on political forces largely not heard from so far at the voting booth.

Clinton and Tsongas headed for a big-state showdown in Illinois and Michigan next week that would hinge largely on the votes of blue-collar workers buffeted by plant closings and overseas competition.

The spoiler in the labor battle could be former California Gov. Jerry Brown, who has nabbed the endorsement of one United Auto Workers local and is pursuing more.

"These are angry and frustrated people who saw their jobs go out the window," said Joe Mangone, UAW national political director. "Jerry Brown is adroitly exploiting that. He will pick up some disenchanted voters."

But no one in the three-man field thoroughly inspires blue-collar workers, Mangone added.

"I think a lot of auto workers will take a hike. You might see the lowest voter turnout in Michigan history. The three remaining candidates don't engender any great enthusiasm," he said.

There are about 700,000 union members in Michigan - about 460,000 of them UAW workers or retirees.

About 15 union presidents who were backing presidential dropout Tom Harkin plan to meet in Washington Thursday to discuss siding with a new candidate, but Mangone said he did not expect them to come out unified behind anyone.

President Bush, still basking in a Super Tuesday sweep, confidently predicted on Wednesday that Republican voters who deserted him in early contests will come back as the economy improves.

"I believe they're going to come home," said Bush.

Bush himself went home to the White House to use the incumbent's best asset - the Oval Office - and busied himself in presidential duties.

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(Additional information)

Candidates identify their dream cars

- Jerry Brown: A non-polluting, energy-efficient, American-made car.

- Bill Clinton: 1966 Mustang convertible (recently purchased)

- Paul Tsongas: Jeep Cherokee

- Patrick Buchanan: 1930s Gatsby-style convertible

- David Duke: Corvette