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CNN Today

How Are the Clinton Controversies Affecting Republicans and Democrats?

Aired February 13, 2001 - 4:06 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now from Washington to talk about the Clinton controversies, Amy Walter of "The Cook Political Report."

So, Amy, I may be -- and I admittedly may be looking for something where there isn't anything expect an honest effort to put this all behind everyone. But Mr. Bush coming out and saying, it's time to move on and nothing was taken from Air Force One, what's happening here?

AMY WALTER, "COOK POLITICAL REPORT": Well, I think that what President Bush is trying to do is to help Republicans avoid the sort of pitfalls that they've been privy to in the past: namely, remember that impeachment thing a few years back, a couple of years back.

CHEN: I remember.

WALTER: Yeah. Who came out on the winning end of that one? I don't think it was Republicans. And certainly, the more that they push these issues, certainly right now, I think Republicans are on the good end of this curve and Clinton is not looking all too marvelous. But the more that they turn the volume up, usually it only ends up hurting Republicans in the end.

So I think the president was very smart to just, you know, say, let's cut this off in the past and move on.

CHEN: But Senator Hatch says that he thinks that Mr. Clinton may actually want to testify.

WALTER: Really -- I think that would be quite...

CHEN: Well, that's what he said.

WALTER: Right. I don't know if he would actually be compelled to come and to do this. Certainly, we have seen from the past his reluctance to go and testify in other venues. So I can't really believe that he would want to do this necessarily.

Look, I think they're just trying to, you know, keep the pressure on Clinton for a little while, and that's not such a bad thing. And certainly, for members of the Senate, they too are just trying to figure out what their place is in all of this. But as we start see the ground shift a little bit and maybe as the senators hear about Bush's statements, maybe we'll see some backtracking.

CHEN: Change of heart there.

WALTER: Yes.

CHEN: Now we talk about the Republicans. What about the Democrats? Is their biggest problem that Mr. Clinton continues to draw all of the attention he does, and in many cases all the negative attention he does, or is there a bigger problem that they really don't have an option to go to step up to the plate and be the team captain?

WALTER: That's exactly right. I mean, I think the latter point is very important.

There is no one who is to the Democrats what Bill Clinton is, and there is a tremendous vacuum right there for leadership, both on policy issues, on an ability to energize the base. Your footage from Harlem just proves what everyone has been saying forever, that there is nobody who can generate enthusiasm among Democrats like Bill Clinton can.

And more importantly, for Democrats looking at the 2002 election, there is nobody who can raise money like the Clintons. They cannot afford to have Clinton saddled with too much baggage and thrown off course. They need him to get on the road and start helping him raise more money.

CHEN: It's about the money. Amy Walter "The Cook Political Report." Thanks again for being with us today.

WALTER: Thank, Joie. Bye-bye.

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