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News Briefs I

Hashimoto Begins Negotiating With Potential Coalition Partners

The Washington Post

Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto began the complex task Monday of negotiating with potential coalition partners to give his Liberal Democratic Party, which fell 12 seats short of a majority in Sunday's parliamentary elections, a secure margin to govern.

Hashimoto needs to lure about 30 defectors from other parties, or an entire party willing to be his coalition partner, to bolster his 239 seats in the 500-seat parliament into a comfortable majority.

The negotiations, which went into high gear Monday with Hashimoto reportedly offering everything from pork-barrel projects to Cabinet posts as bait, must be completed before members of parliament officially cast their ballots for prime minister. By law, that voting must occur within 30 days of Sunday's elections.

If Hashimoto's back-room negotiations succeed, his gamble in calling the elections will look brilliant. If he fails, the government could all but stop functioning just when it needs strong leadership to lift the country out of its economic doldrums. Hashimoto would then likely be the latest in the recent, dizzying parade of short-lived prime ministers here.

Clinton Team Brushes Off Queries About Improper Fund-Raising

The Washington Post

President Clinton's re-election team Monday brushed off inquiries about potentially improper fund-raising tactics by the Democratic National Committee by pleading ignorance, changing the subject and launching attacks on the political fund-raising record of Republican Bob Dole.

The rush of rhetoric Monday was aimed at muffling a rising controversy over hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by John Huang, a former administration official now on staff at the DNC. Clinton's team in effect accused the accuser, the same approach it has followed in recent weeks when questioned on Whitewater and other ethical matters.

Clinton's campaign Monday released a TV ad, to begin airing Tuesday, that says Dole is resorting to "desperate attacks" by criticizing the DNC's ties to foreign money. Then it tries to turn tables by saying that Republicans, too, are raising money from overseas sources, including "foreign oil, foreign tobacco, foreign drug companies," and charging that while in the Senate, Dole was an obstacle to campaign finance reform.

Dole Promotes Tax Cut, Attacks Clinton's Character

The Washington Post

Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole Monday roamed from pondering voter interest in the election to promoting his economic program to attacking President Clinton's character, trying to persuade voters to abandon their support of the president.

At a joint appearance here with running mate Jack Kemp and eight Republican governors at the start of a two-day swing through this key midwestern state, Dole and his allies sought to downplay unfavorable polls and counter growing pessimism in GOP ranks.

Three of the governors, Jim Edgar of Illinois, George V. Voinovich of Ohio and John Engler of Michigan criticized their colleague, Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, for just about writing off the Dole's chances during a radio interview last Friday, accusing Thompson of sour grapes because the Dole campaign has not targeted Wisconsin.