February 3, 1996 in Nation/World

Clinton Plunges Into Re-Election Campaign Urges New Hampshire Voters To ‘Go Forward’

Associated Press

President Clinton, returning to the state that gave him a crucial boost four years ago, urged voters on Friday to reject a change of course and “bear down and go forward” with him.

In a day of carefree campaigning, Clinton visited a school in Concord, toured a high-tech factory in Nashua, was cheered at an evening rally in Salem - and plunged into curbside crowds between stops. He joyously pronounced New Hampshire “a good place to extend your career.”

Although he has no Democratic competition, Clinton selected the first-in-the-nation primary state for his first campaign trip of the election year, stealing some attention from Republicans battling for the GOP nomination.

Appearing to borrow a page from Republican Ronald Reagan’s “Stay the Course” re-election message of 1984, Clinton told a gymnasium rally at Salem High School:

“We should not take a change of course and follow a direction that we know has no chance of working. What we need to do is bear down and go forward.”

A crowd of about 2,000 people filled the gym, with hundreds more in two overflow rooms. The mostly young audience waved pompons and chanted, “Four more years.” Red, white and blue balloons dropped from the roof’s metal girders.

“This country needs the right president. I’m glad you think I am the right president,” he told his supporters.

In a day of mostly low-key campaigning, with no direct attacks on his GOP would-be rivals, Clinton focused on his accomplishments, improvements in the economy over the past four years and education and technology issues.

In 1992, Clinton placed a strong second here to a local favorite, former Sen. Paul Tsongas of neighboring Massachusetts. He proclaimed himself “The Comeback Kid” and kept gathering momentum.

Clinton arrived to good polling news for his campaign. A survey conducted for the Boston Herald and WCVB-TV found that half of those polled think Clinton could beat Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole if Dole gets the GOP nomination. Half of Steve Forbes’ supporters believe that Clinton could beat the multimillionaire, the polls showed.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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