Democratic front-runner Bill Clinton moved Friday to mount an aggressive campaign against his remaining rival as former California Gov. Jerry Brown dug in his heels and gave no sign of yielding.
Clinton's campaign director Bruce Lindsey pledged to treat Brown as a serious opponent and not take the Democratic nomination for granted."I don't think we can run Jerry Brown out of this race," Lindsey said. "I think he marches to his own drummer and I think he will continue to do that.'
If anything, Brown gave signs of stepping up his campaign and his attacks on Clinton, calling him "a Shakespearean actor with the greatest ability to wiggle out of tough situations" and attacking the Arkansas governor's golf playing at a segregated country club.
"We're not shutting it down yet," Brown said as he intensified his efforts here and in New York in the aftermath of Thursday's surprise withdrawal of former Sen. Paul Tsongas
"Connecticut, give them a wakeup call on Tuesday," Brown said at a standing-room-only rally in the council chambers at Bridgeport's City Hall.
Clinton aides said Sen. Harris Wofford, D-Pa., would endorse Clinton and, schedule permitting, campaign with him in Connecticut early next week. That is part of an effort to woo suburban voters who were Tsongas supporters. Wofford had not endorsed Tsongas but had helped his longtime friend raise money.
Brown and the Arkansas governor will meet Saturday at a debatelike forum in Buffalo.
Clinton, whose nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate was all but assured by Tsongas' withdrawal, planned a full weekend of campaigning in Connecticut on Saturday and Sunday with some stops in New York as well.
He scrapped plans to spend most of Friday in Little Rock so he could remain in Connecticut, conduct interviews, and confer with advisers before traveling to New York.
In an interview with CNN, Clinton was asked if he considered Brown a rival or a nuisance.
"I don't want to characterize him," Clinton said. "He may be both for all I know."
Interviewed on NBC's "Today" Show, Clinton said he'd "never made it a practice" to urge a candidate to withdraw from a political race and would not call for Brown to step aside.
He said he would respond to Brown depending "on what kind of campaign he runs."
"Attacks on me such as that in which he engaged right before the Michigan and Illinois primaries, which didn't help him, are not helpful to the party," Clinton said.
"I think if he wants to get out here and make his case, he ought to have at it."