The Battle Is On for Votes Of GOP Senators on Jobs

THE fight goes on.

President Clinton was expected to make a public case yesterday at a meeting with the nation's mayors for the passage of his $16.3 billion jobs program. But while the president continues to lobby hard for his stimulus plan, his approach has changed from sledgehammer bluntness to low-key pleading. Mr. Clinton is aiming to win over enough Republican senators to break the GOP filibuster against his package. Since 60 votes are needed to end the filibuster, the president needs to win the votes of three or four

Republican senators (there are 43 GOP senators, but one of the Democrats, Sen. Richard Shelby (D) of Alabama, has joined their filibuster).

Six middle-of-the-road Republican senators are being targeted by the White House's lobbying effort: James Jeffords of Vermont, William Cohen of Maine, Alfonse D'Amato of New York, William Roth of Delaware, and Mark Hatfield and Bob Packwood of Oregon.

But Senate minority leader Bob Dole (R) of Kansas, leading the fight to block the jobs bill, dismissed the White House lobbying, saying, "I don't think they have peeled anyone off yet." Democrats win one

A series of by-elections being held for congressional seats vacated by Clinton Cabinet members is being closely watched by Washington insiders. If Democrats wind up losing many of those seats, it will be seen by many as a vote of no confidence in Clinton. So far, however, the president's party seems to be holding its own.

On Tuesday, Bennie Thompson, a liberal Democrat, defeated conservative Republican Hayes Dent Jr. 55 percent to 45 percent in the rural Mississippi congressional district once represented by Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy. Mr. Thompson, a supervisor from suburban Jackson, becomes the second black elected to Congress from Mississippi since Reconstruction - the first being Mr. Espy.

Meanwhile, in the race for a northern California congressional seat once held by budget director Leon Panetta, state Assemblyman Sam Farr won the hotly contested Democratic nomination. He will face Republican William McCampbell - who lost to Mr. Panetta in 1992 - in a June 8 runoff. `Operation Love Storm'

George Bush must feel like the prophet without honor in his own country: The former president, turned out of office by American voters, is preparing to receive a rapturous reception in Kuwait.

The president's arrival in the Persian Gulf kingdom was delayed 24 hours by an airplane malfunction, but Kuwaitis spent the extra day preparing a lavish greeting for the man they credit with liberating them from Iraqi rule.

Hotels and houses are flying Kuwaiti and American flags, and large posters of Mr. Bush adorn downtown street corners. Police and the army were assigned to crowd-control duties to deal with the tens of thousands of Kuwaitis expected to line the airport road yesterday afternoon to cheer Bush's motorcade.

Newspaper columnist Fuad al-Hashem has dubbed the visit "Operation Love Storm." Another columnist, Hussein Abdul Rahman, said he was so overcome with emotion he couldn't think what to write. His column appeared Tuesday with the words "Welcome Bush" repeated more than 100 times, followed by the columnist's signature. Rostenkowski investigation continues

Last month, Attorney General Janet Reno generated controversy by demanding that all Republican-appointed United States attorneys around the country leave office post haste. US Attorney Jay Stephens in Washington suggested he was forced to go right before he was nearing a "critical" decision in the long-running criminal investigation of Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D) of Illinois, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

But Ms. Reno said she recently called J. Ramsey Johnson, who is her choice to replace Mr. Stephens, and told him to proceed full-steam-ahead with the investigation. "I called the man and said, `Go to it'," Reno said during an hour-long interview with wire-service reporters.

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