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Bill Clinton is opening a new campaign front focusing on health care, pitching himself as a "can-do" leader and brushing off Republican criticism as "foolish, negative doubt."

Clinton, campaigning in New York and New Jersey, pushed his plan to guarantee universal health care coverage and implement strict cost controls."My opponents are sowing doubt at every turn," Clinton told a crowd Thursday at Manhattan's Bryant Park. He said President Bush had written off America's chance of guaranteed health care and family leave for workers.

"I always thought that when people came to New York and saw the Statue of Liberty, they were coming here because this was a can-do country, not a can't-do country," Clinton said.

Later, Clinton hit the fund-raising circuit, where aides said he collected $4.3 million for the Democratic National Committee.

Clinton turned his attention to education Friday, heading to the University of Connecticut for a midday address before stopping in Boston for a speech at Faneuil Hall. The two Northeastern states have 20 electoral votes at stake; New York has 33; New Jersey, 15.

Bush was going after votes in the industrial Midwest after taking a day off Thursday. He was heading in Illinois to visit a Motorola plant before beginning a weekend whistlestop train tour in Ohio. Illinois has 22 electoral votes; Ohio, 21.

The Bush-Quayle camp was eager to engage Clinton on health care.

"If they want to open up a new front, fine," said Bush campaign spokeswoman Torie Clarke. "Bill Clinton's been ducking this one for a long time. He doesn't want to talk about the taxes it will raise."