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President takes aim at GOP campaign

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WASHINGTON — Offering partisan advice as the GOP gathers for its convention, President Clinton says the economic boom of the past eight years has been so effective that voters who want to "live like Republicans" should vote for Democrats.

Clinton, who scheduled a round of speeches and party fund-raisers in Florida on Monday, took advantage of a friendly audience of trial lawyers in Chicago on Sunday to take a shot at Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney's 1986 congressional vote against recommending freedom for South Africa's Nelson Mandela.

"Now, all the big publicity is about, in the last few days, an amazing vote cast by their vice presidential nominee when he was in Congress against letting Nelson Mandela out of jail," Clinton said. "That takes your breath away."

As a House member from Wyoming, Cheney voted against a nonbinding resolution calling for Mandela's release and for U.S. recognition of Mandela's African National Congress. Cheney said Sunday his vote reflected the view then that the ANC was "a terrorist organization," not that he favored keeping Mandela in jail.

Crediting his administration with policies he said worked like a charm to turn around a once-stumbling economy, Clinton drew a laugh when he added: "I keep saying that if people want to live like Republicans they should vote Democratic."

Clinton said the Bush-Cheney ticket is clearly to the right of the Republican ticket of Bob Dole and Jack Kemp that he and Vice President Al Gore defeated in 1996.

Clinton noted that GOP senators have kept many of his nominees for the federal bench, especially minorities, "in political jail because they can't get a hearing."

"And their nominee won't say a word about it," he added.

At the lunch and a later address to about 3,000 people at the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Clinton held up the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals as an example.

The federal appeals court hears cases from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina — a region with more black residents than any other federal court jurisdiction. The 4th Circuit has never had a black judge.

"I've been trying for seven long years to fix that, and they've blocked every one," of his nominees, Clinton said. "They're so determined to keep an African-American off that they have allowed a 25 percent vacancy rate."

The president has nominated three blacks to be 4th Circuit judges, but none has been confirmed. Two nominations are still pending, but no Senate confirmation hearings are scheduled.

Clinton planned to stay overnight Monday in the West Palm Beach area.

On the Net: Association of Trial Lawyers of America site: www.atla.org