Bill Clinton, struggling to overcome criticism for golfing at an all-white country club, appealed to black voters in Harlem Saturday, but his appearance was disrupted by jeers from supporters of a left-wing fringe party.
At another rally in Manhattan, challenger Jerry Brown pitched his controversial tax reform plan - but he disappointed supporters by speaking for just 10 minutes after being two hours late.Both candidates are actively campaigning in New York for an April 7 primary that could lock up the nomination for Clinton or put Brown into a spoiler's position going into the Democratic Party convention in July.
Clinton's speech at a hospital in Harlem was cut short after a dozen supporters of Lenora Fulani, the New Alliance Party candidate for president, shouted and jeered the Arkansas governor off the podium.
The protesters, demanding that Fulani be included in the upcoming New York debate between Clinton and Brown, shouted "We want Fulani, we want Fulani."
Clinton responded: "This is not about democracy. This is about whether I will be an instrument of your will."
Nearly 150 Harlem residents had come to hear Clinton, his staff estimated.
Clinton outraged many blacks a few weeks ago when it was revealed that he had played several rounds of golf at an all-white Arkansas club. He later publicly called the incident a mistake and vowed not to repeat it.
Later, Clinton addressed 300 Queens residents at a local diner before flying to Florida for a private fund-raiser.
Brown, who flew in from campaigning in Wisconsin, kept more than 1,000 supporters waiting two hours in chilly winds in downtown Manhattan.
The former California governor plugged his radical tax program, which would set a flat 13 percent tax for all citizens and corporations, regardless of income.
"The tax code is so big it would take years to get rid of it provision by provision," he told the crowd. "That's why we want something simple."
But many Brown supporters were disappointed because the governor spoke for only 10 minutes.
"Yeah, I'm disappointed," said Manhattan resident Doris Phillips. "He was late, and then he didn't really say anything of substance."
Brown also continued to draw fire from the New York media for his tax proposal. The New York Post called the plan "regressive" and "cruel" in an editorial Saturday.
"Nothing about Brown's flat-tax proposal suggests that it's anything more than a gimmick designed to appeal to the general frustration with all things governmental," the Post said. "New Yorkers may be frustrated - along with other Americans. But they're not stupid."