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In Focus: The Democratic Fund-Raising Flap

Gore Says Nothing Wrong With His Fund-Raising Calls -- March 3, 1997

Full Text Of Gore's Remarks -- March 3, 1997


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Clinton Defends Democratic Fund-Raising


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 4 ) -- President Bill Clinton offered a spirited defense today of his party's political fund-raising, saying Democrats "worked like crazy" to avoid being rolled over by the Republicans.

His only regret, Clinton said, is that his party didn't do a good enough job of checking some contributions to the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The DNC has had to return about $3 million in illegal or questionable contributions, many from overseas sources.

Full Text Of Clinton's Remarks

At a briefing on federal policy on cloning research, Clinton was asked about political fund-raising and Vice President Al Gore's statement on Monday that he did nothing illegal in making some fund-raising calls from his White House office.

Clinton said he agreed that what Gore did was legal, but also supported Gore's decision to no longer make such calls from his office.

"I would remind you just that, we knew we had a very stiff challenge," Clinton said. "We were fighting a battle not simply for our re-election, but over the entire direction of the country for years to come -- the most historic philosophical battle we had in America in quite a long time -- over the direction of the budget, over our commitment to education, over whether we would dismantle large chunks of our environmental regulations and our public health regulations.


"It was a significant thing for America, and we knew that we were going to be out-spent and out-raised, but we knew we had to do everything we could to at least be competitive enough to get our message out," Clinton said.

Clinton said the Democrats were out-spent by about $200 million, but raised enough money to gets their message out.

Asked if he regretted any aspects of the fund-raising, Clinton said, "The only thing I regret, and I regret this very much, as I have said, is that a decision was made, which I did not approve of or know about, to stop the rigorous review of checks coming into the Democratic committee, so that some funds were accepted which should not have been accepted.

"I don't regret the fact that we worked like crazy to raise enough money to keep from being rolled over by the biggest juggernaut this country had seen in a very long time," he said.

Clinton also said he wants congressional hearings into campaign fund-raising to be fair, bipartisan and balanced.

"Whatever the hearings produce, in the end, the only real question is, will they produce campaign finance reform?" Clinton said.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) announced he is preparing a Senate resolution that will call on Attorney General Janet Reno to appoint an independent counsel to look into the Democratic fund-raising. A Justice Department inquiry is underway, and Reno has repeatedly said that the legal conditions for appointment of an independent counsel have not been met.

CNN's Bob Franken contributed to this report.

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