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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

Will Gore fall victim to Clinton fatigue?

By Bill Schneider/CNN

May 27, 1999
Web posted at: 11:52 a.m. EDT (1552 GMT)

WASHINGTON (May 27) -- From bimbo eruptions to draft dodging to pot smoking to Whitewater to the Lincoln Bedroom to Monica Lewinsky, Clinton's personal life has drained the country.

Sure, Clinton's agenda remains popular. Most people continue to think President Clinton is doing a good job, although the war in Kosovo is beginning to create some doubts. But the president's personal behavior? Americans have long since tired of that soap opera.

The message is, enough already and it's showing up politically in the form of Clinton fatigue. Ask the public, 'What if Clinton actively supports Al Gore and campaigns for him -- would that make you more or less likely to vote for Gore?' Most voters say Clinton hurts Gore and only 29 percent say Clinton helps him. If voting for Gore seems like giving Clinton a third term, people really don't want to do that, even though times are good -- enough of Clinton already.

Look at what people say are the best reasons to vote for Gore -- at the top of the list, he's honest and trustworthy, he's a good husband and father -- very un-Clinton-like qualities. At the bottom of the list: he would continue Clinton's policies -- enough of Clinton already.

Clinton fatigue could be a problem for the first lady as well. While an overwhelming number of Americans say they approve of the way she's handling her job as first lady, people are sharply divided over whether she should run for the Senate in New York.

The irony is it may be easier for the first lady to proclaim her independence from Bill Clinton than it is for the vice president. She's been victimized by the president's behavior. For many people, voting for Hillary is a way to show disgust with the president's behavior while still endorsing the Clinton agenda.

It's harder to make that distinction with the vice president. Gore has to make it clear to people that, if they vote for him, they're voting to endorse "Clintonism," but not necessarily Clinton.


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Thursday, May 27, 1999

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