Clinton: Ban Contributions From Non-Citizens
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AllPolitics, Nov. 1) -- President Bill Clinton called today for a ban on political contributions from overseas corporations and non-U.S. citizens, but made no reference to the flurry of charges about suspect, overseas money flowing into Democratic bank accounts.
Clinton has avoided reporters' questions in recent days about questionable Democratic fund-raising and his remarks -- nearly 10 minutes in a longer-than-normal stump speech -- were an attempt to respond to his critics in a controlled venue.
"We have played by the rules, but you know and I know, we need to change the rules," Clinton said.
Clinton echoed rival Bob Dole's call, earlier in the day, for a ban on contributions from non-citizens.
"The Democratic Party has raised money this way and so has the Republican Party," the president said.
Clinton took note of immigrants' contributions to the nation and said he has worked hard defending legal immigration.
"But if the essence of a democracy is its citizens decide and only citizens can vote, then I believe then only citizens should be able to contribute," Clinton said. "That is not anti-immigrant. It is simply stating the fact those who vote should finance the elections that they vote in."
Even before Clinton spoke, Dole ridiculed Clinton's last-minute call for campaign finance reform, a subject barely discussed in the campaign until now.
"The president ought to be ashamed of himself," Dole said during a rally in Columbus, Ohio. "But he looks truth right in the eye and walks beyond it. Today he'll make a speech in California and he'll stand there and he'll talk about campaign finance reform and how he struggled to get it. He struggled to get it, all right. He got a lot of it.
"They had these outreach programs, they called them. We have a foreign businessman who made an illegal contribution to the Democratic party. We have a vice president raising money at a Buddhist temple, where they take a vow of poverty.
"What we have seen from this administration in the last few weeks is the reason we need campaign finance reform," Dole said. "We need it, no question about it and it will come."
Dole called for a bipartisan commission to "take it out of politics," conceding that whichever party controls Congress tries to write rules to its own advantage.
"We simply cannot allow the political influence of any American to be outweighed by foreign money," Dole said. "You have one vote. They have millions of dollars. Now who do you think has the most influence?
To applause, Dole said, "In an American election, the voice of a single citizen must speak louder than the entire world, because this is the United States of America."
Dole also called for abolishing so-called "soft money" donations to the parties and full disclosure of corporate and union spending; no compulsory union dues to finance political activities; and abolishing political action committees.
In his Santa Barbara speech, Clinton did not mention Democratic contributions from an Indonesian banking family, fund-raiser John Huang, or a Democratic fund-raiser at a tax-exempt Buddhist temple in Southern California.
Clinton criticized Republicans for walking away from an informal agreement to create a bipartisan commission to work on campaign finance reform. And he ripped Dole for repeatedly filibustering attempts to clean up the campaign finance system when he was in the Senate.
Clinton said he favors voluntary spending limits, coupled with free TV time, so that only candidates who cap their spending would get TV time to take their message to voters.
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