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Wednesday’s events on the presidential campaign trail:

The candidates:

Bill Clinton signed a bipartisan bill making it easier for Americans to obtain and keep health insurance. This bill, plus the minimum wage increase he signed Tuesday and a welfare overhaul bill to be signed today, are meant to build momentum for Clinton heading into next week’s Democratic National Convention.

Bob Dole pressed for the release of Clinton’s medical records, saying that he gave full disclosure of his own health. Clinton has released summaries of annual physicals in the past and his spokesman has answered questions in daily White House press briefings.

Al Gore told members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Louisville, Ky., that they would pay too high a price for tax cuts being pushed by Republicans. He said that veterans’ benefits and other government programs would be slashed indiscriminately by the Republican Congress in the rush to give tax breaks to upper-income Americans. Dole told the group Tuesday there was “no way” he would do that.

News of note:

Compress all of President Clinton’s speeches and themes over the last 18 months and here’s what you get: a 177-page book titled “Between Hope and History.” The book, whose production was one of the few tightly held secrets of the Clinton administration, hits bookstores this week, just in time for the opening of next week’s Democratic nominating convention in Chicago. The president says the book “continues the conversation I have had with the American people about our destiny as a nation.” The book does not lay out a detailed agenda for a second Clinton term if the president wins re-election. But the president uses it to reaffirm support for affirmative action, saying it needs to be mended, not ended. And he takes another shot at tobacco giants for targeting children and teenagers. The president repeats his State of the Union message that “the era of big government is over.” But he also takes issue with Republicans who profess that government itself is the enemy.

“Americans don’t want our government gutted,” he said. “My vision does not seek to promote government, but to perfect it, to make it a better servant of our people.” Times Books, a division of Random House, is printing an initial 400,000 copies of the book and is rushing them to bookstores with a price tag of $16.95 a copy. To comply with federal election laws, Clinton will accept no advances or royalties. The publisher will retain all profits over its production costs.

Two-time presidential candidate Jesse Jackson and nine female members of Congress will have roles at the Democratic National Convention next week in Chicago. Jackson will be the first major speaker Tuesday evening - before network television coverage is expected to begin. And to keep the party’s edge among female voters, five women senators will speak Wednesday evening, and four women House members will speak Thursday afternoon. President Clinton will accept the nomination Thursday night.

Federal regulators approved TV network plans for giving free air time to presidential candidates Wednesday, despite complaints that minor candidates would likely be left out. The Federal Communication Commission’s 4-0 action allows Fox, ABC and the Public Broadcasting Service to move with their plans for this fall. The action exempts those networks from federal rules requiring equal access for all legally qualified candidates.

In 1968, the whole world was watching chaos explode in the streets of Chicago during the Democratic National Convention. This year, one political consultant said the “whole world will be yawning” during the convention. Of 93 slots allotted to demonstrators at specific demonstration sites, so far only 66 are filled. Little drama is expected other than the obvious: Clinton and Gore will be nominated to run for another term.

The Natural Law Party will nominate Harvard-trained physicist John Hagelin and scientist Mike Tompkins as presidential candidates Thursday in Washington. The duo ran in 1992. They got less than 40,000 votes.

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