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Clinton challenges GOP for alternative

President Clinton said Republican opponents of his budget plan, now heading to the Senate floor for contentious debate, should offer a credible alternative instead of "chants that sound good."

"They say "more cuts, less taxes,' but no details. No details!" Clinton said Saturday in a commencement address to graduates of Northeastern University.

And in his weekly radio address broadcast Saturday morning, Clinton said senators who oppose his plan should follow the advice of CNN founder Ted Turner and "Lead, follow or get out of the way."

In the Republican response, Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois said his party would fight for a better plan to cut the deficit without raising taxes.

"To paraphrase (American statesman) Patrick Henry, "If this be gridlock, make the most of it,' " Hyde said. "And we intend to."

Clinton told the graduates that when the details of the Republicans' alternatives are examined, "you find that the details hurt the middle class, the working poor, the vulnerable elderly, do less to create jobs and assure our world economic leadership."

"So I say to you, we ought to ask of every American what is your real alternative? Not rhetoric, not chants that sound good," he said.

And in his radio address, Clinton also attacked "thousands of lobbyists" for special-interest groups who have already been picking his economic plan apart.

"The stakes are just too big to play political games," he said.

At Boston Garden, 14,000 students, families and friends endured stifling heat inside the arena, which has no air conditioning.

Waiting for the president's' arrival, the crowd erupted into a chant of "We want Bill!" to drown out an inspirational song played over and over by the school band.

Clinton, wearing a red and black graduation gown, was given an honorary doctor of public service degree by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

Clinton chose the school out of several hundred commencement invitations because of its commitment to affordable college through a five-year work-study program.

Mayors praise Clinton: Mayors gathering in New York for their annual conference gave the president a boost, saying that despite his setbacks, he still offers the best hope in years that the perilous state of the nation's cities will be improved.

"I know what happened for a dozen years (of Republican rule in the White House)," said New York Mayor David Dinkins. "Our chances of success are infinitely better now than they have been."

The nation's Democratic governors, too, were talking about the president.

Gov. Lawton Chiles of Florida said he understands Clinton's drive to wrestle all problems at once.

"You've made all these promises during the campaign, you want to get it all done and you get too much out there," said Chiles, one of 10 state leaders meeting in Woodstock, Vt., for the Democratic Governors Association issues conference.

"Congress is like kindergarten _ only one subject at a time."