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CONNECTICUT VOTERS SETTLE SHOWDOWN BETWEEN CLINTON, BROWN

Connecticut voters were settling the first direct showdown between Democrats Bill Clinton and Jerry Brown in a contest confused by the sudden exit of neighbor Paul Tsongas.

President Bush and challenger Patrick Buchanan paid little attention to the Republican primary. Bush's only campaigning was a series of Monday night satellite television interviews from the White House."I can't be a full-time candidate like others," he said. "I've got to do my job."

The Connecticut contest traditionally is sandwiched between last week's industrial showdowns and the April 7 primaries in New York, Wisconsin and Kansas.

Brown was up early for a labor breakfast in Manhattan at which he was endorsed by Barry Feinstein, head of a 165,000-member Teamsters local. "We think people who work for a living will reject the Clinton candidacy," Feinstein said. Union leaders said they would organize a huge rally in New York on behalf of Brown next week.

Clinton and Brown leveled new attacks on one another Monday over ethics and money. In an ad unleashed Monday, Brown dismissed predictions that Clinton has all but locked up the nomination, telling voters, "you still have a choice."

Clinton issued an ad calling Brown's proposal for a flat-rate income tax "a flat-out fraud" and criticizing him for pledging to rid politics of corrupt money only a year after he fought contribution limits in California.

On the campaign trail, Brown jibed Clinton over the latest report questioning his dealings as Arkansas governor, saying "I can't even keep up with the scandals."

Clinton denied any wrongdoing in the awarding of a lucrative Arkansas state bond contract to Dan R. Lasater, a political supporter later convicted on drug charges. The deal was reported in Monday's Los Angeles Times.

In Connecticut, some voters came away from the polls saying they had voted for former Sen. Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts, even though he dropped out of the race last week.

Clinton's internal polls conducted after his Illinois and Michigan sweeps showed him leading Tsongas in Connecticut.