Democrats Accuse Gop of Negativism Optimistic Party Leaders Dismiss Whitewater

Article excerpt

Gov. Mel Carnahan on Saturday accused the state's Republican leaders of relying only on negative messages to try to win this year's elections.

"They want to tear down, they want to criticize, they want to find fault," Carnahan told about 225 people in Clayton at the annual Thomas Jefferson Days banquet thrown by the St. Louis County Democratic Committee.

Speaking in the same vein were Attorney General Jay Nixon, who said the state GOP "is intellectually bankrupt," and Secretary of State Bekki Cook, who contended that Republicans "have no plan."

Carnahan conceded that the Democrats also run attack ads, but he contended that they are offering positive solutions as well. The governor and his running mates predicted voters in November will reject the GOP negativism and elect Democrats.

Such observations reflected the optimism abounding among state and local Democratic leaders at the two-day Jefferson Days event.

"Nationally, we've won something like 25 of 29 special elections" in the last year, said state House Speaker Steve Gaw, D-Moberly, as he floated through the two floors of hospitality rooms Friday night. "That's an indication of the public thought out there."

Nobody seemed concerned about political fallout from the convictions this week of three political allies of President Bill Clinton, including the governor of Arkansas, in the Whitewater controversy.

"It's not white hot," said Lt. Gov. Roger Wilson, citing several jurors' comments that Clinton's testimony for the defense was credible.

State Rep. May Scheve, D-Affton, contended the voters don't care about the matter. "It's kind of like same-sex marriages - a nonissue."

Quipped Democratic activist Mike Wolff, a law professor at St. …