Bankers' hearts and wallets belong to Bob Dole.
An American Banker sampling of chief executives of leading banks turned up overwhelming support for the Republican presidential candidate over President Clinton.
And top bankers have given Mr. Dole 16 times as much as Mr. Clinton. Large-bank CEOs gave a total of $16,250 to the Dole campaign but only $1,000 to Mr. Clinton, according to Federal Election Commission data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign finance think tank.
The President's lone contribution from a major bank chief executive was from Barnett Grace of First Commercial Corp. in Little Rock, Ark., the President's home state.
The meager Clinton support may stem from the fact that he ran unopposed in his party's primaries, while Mr. Dole battled several candidates for the Republican nomination. Individuals may give up to $1,000 to presidential candidates for primary races but may not contribute during the general election campaign.
Bankers contacted for the American Banker sampling said they admired Mr. Dole for the very qualities they found lacking in President Clinton.
"I don't like or trust Bill Clinton," said Edward B. Rasmuson, who heads National Bancorp of Alaska. "His administration is trying to shut down Alaska's economic development."
Roger L. Fitzsimonds of Firstar Corp., Milwaukee, said he preferred Mr. Dole because of "the integrity issue" and his "support of free-market policies."
In its sampling, American Banker contacted 66 CEOs of large banks, all among the top 150 in the industry. Though only 13 chose to respond - either by name or anonymously - the trend was clear: 11 for Mr. Dole, one for Mr. Clinton. And the responses represented a broad geographic distribution.
One CEO who asked not to be identified called Mr. Clinton "an embarrassment to our country."
Others, also speaking anonymously, praised Mr. Dole for his honesty. "He is trustworthy and will make the tough choices necessary for long-term economic growth," said the CEO of a midwestern bank.
"I trust Bob Dole," said a banker in the Pacific Northwest.
One CEO planning to vote for the President is Terrence Murray of Fleet Financial Group, Boston.
"The economy has prospered under his leadership, NAFTA and GATT have been successful, and the administration has been progressive on banking issues," Mr. Murray said. "Dole's tax plan is not plausible and will exacerbate the deficits," he added.
Support for Mr. Dole conforms to bankers' overwhelming allegiance to the Republican Party.
The GOP and its candidates got $112,700 from these large-bank CEOs, nearly 60% of the $194,330 they contributed between Jan. 1, 1995, and July 31, 1996, the latest data available.
Some CEOs contribute only to their banks' political action committees. For example, John S. Reed gave $8,920 to Citibank's PAC but made no direct political contribution.
For this election cycle, bank PACs gave $5.7 million to congressional and presidential candidates. Republicans got more than two-thirds of that, slightly more than $4 million. That was up from 1994, when commercial bank PACs made 55% of their donations to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
John F. Grundhofer, CEO of First Bank System Inc., Minneapolis, gave the most to candidates and political parties - a total of $15,800. Nearly 80% of that went to Republicans and their party committees.
Robert G. Wilmers, the head of Buffalo-based First Empire State Corp., gave $10,500 - $7,000 to Republicans.
Thomas C. Frost, CEO of Cullen/Frost Bankers Inc. of San Antonio, gave $9,000 but none to Mr. Dole. He gave $1,000 each to two of Mr. Dole's primary opponents, Sen. Phil Gramm and Lamar Alexander.