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CLINTON GETS HARKIN'S ENDORSEMENT

Bill Clinton's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination is trying to slow down the surge of former California Gov. Jerry Brown by picking up key endorsements and attacking Brown's plan to change the federal tax system.

The biggest endorsement the Arkansas governor picked up came Thursday from one of his former rivals for the nomination, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who dropped out of the race two weeks ago.Clinton's march to the Democratic nomination stumbled this week when a protest vote against him gave Brown a slim victory in Connecticut's primary.

The two remaining Democrats next meet in the delegate-rich New York primary, which is held April 7, the same day that Wisconsin and Kansas also vote.

In an effort to halt Brown's momentum, Clinton got several endorsements, including one from a big New York union, and campaigned against Brown's tax plan, saying it would hurt the poor and middle class.

Speaking in Rochester, N.Y., where he appeared with Clinton, Harkin said he did not agree with Clinton on every issue, but believed the governor could beat President Bush in the fall.

"The differences between Bill and I are minuscule compared to our differences with George Bush, and that's what's important," Harkin said.

Clinton got the support of the International Ladies' Garmet Workers' Union, with 125,000 active and retired members in the state.

Arriving in Rochester a short time later, Brown said Harkin was "incorrect. Mr. Clinton is not our strongest candidate." But he didn't appear to let the endorsement bother him, saying, "Let's be honest about it, this is an insurgent campaign."

Democratic Party Chairman Ronald Brown said the former California governor is running a "scorched earth" campaign that could damage both candidates and the Democratic Party.

Ron Brown told the Los Angeles Times: "Running aggressively on the issues is absolutely appropriate. Personal attacks are absolutely inappropriate. He diminishes his own candidacy if it is skewed toward a personal attack kind of strategy and not toward a real issue discussion."

Jerry Brown has relished such attacks from party bigwigs, saying they only prove he is the candidate of change.