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Brown Presents Platform to Boston Crowd

By Karen Kaplan
Executive Editor

Speaking to what he called the largest crowd assembled in his campaign so far, former Gov. Jerry Brown of California told several thousand supporters yesterday at Boston Common that "this election is about leadership."

"We're trying to change the system, to get it to work for the people it's not working for," said Brown, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. "The people in charge don't care, they don't know, they're not doing anything about it, and they should be removed."

Wearing a double-breasted navy suit, wingtips, his signature white turtleneck and a red ribbon to symbolize the suffering of AIDS victims, Brown emphasized his major campaign themes -- efficient energy use, universal health care, creating jobs, phasing out the use of nuclear power, and a foreign policy linked to human rights. Of course, he also spoke of the need to reform Washington politics and rid the capital of "insiders."

"Who's never given $1,000 to a politician?" Brown asked his supporters, who ran the gamut from preppies to yuppies to students to liberals of all ages. "That's why you're getting lied to, ripped off, and taken advantage of," he said.

Brown also called attention to his leadership experience, saying that in his eight years as governor of "the eighth largest economy in the world," he transformed California from the third highest tax state to the 24th. Brown said he created 2 million jobs, more than President Bush created during his presidency. He also touted his record on energy policy and the environment.

Brown spoke about the "three E's" -- energy, efficiency, and the environment -- and said they could be the means to a stronger U.S. economy.

"We're wasting half of the energy we're buying," he said. "We should put that money to work, paying people to make the country more efficient." He said America has the intellectual and technological capability to "create a car that can move people from one place to another without poisoning the air" and develop renewable energy resources so that the country could become more self-sufficient and "stop running Japanese cars on Arab oil."

Brown called for a single-payer, universal health care system in which individuals could choose their method of treatment. "Only in America do we fail to cover 40 million" people, he said. "Look at Canada. They spend $500 less [per capita], they cover every citizen, and they live two years longer. Sounds like they've got something." He criticized former Sen. Paul E. Tsongas for his plan to revamp the nation's health care system, saying, "Health care is not a commodity to be exploited for profit. It's a fundamental right."

Brown then discussed an issue he called important to Bay Staters -- the Seabrook, Yankee Rowe, and Pilgrim nuclear power plants. Brown said he would not build new nuclear power plants and would replace existing power plants with renewable energy sources. He credited Tsongas and Boston Edison for creating the "radioactive museums that will be around Massachusetts for the next 10,000 years."

Brown emphasized the importance of human rights, both at home and as a central feature of foreign policy. He spoke about his visit to a homeless shelter, where a family had been crowded into "a room the size of a broom closet." He said he was so disturbed that he looked into it and discovered "there are more empty buildings than homeless people in this country. I want to change that."

On the foreign policy front, Brown said his number one goal would be the eradication of hunger worldwide. He said the United States must work to stop torture in other countries, "even if it's our allies."

Another of Brown's aims is to "reduce the obscene sale of arms" to foreign countries. "The Cold War is over. What a great chance to invest in peace." He also said the US should take the lead in protecting the global environment.

Facing a jungle of cameras, Brown thanked members of the media for attending the rally. "We don't often see them," he said, but "after we won in Maine, after we won in Colorado, and after we won in Nevada, people are starting to pay attention."