Democratic Party Chairman Sees Nothing but Politics in Starr Probe

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Democratic Party chief Donald Fowler yesterday accused independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr of acting as a Republican partisan and pre-emptively dismissed any fall indictment of either President Clinton or the first lady as "political prosecution."

"Despite all the sound and fury, there's nothing out there at all" to justify Mr. Starr's ongoing Whitewater investigation, said Mr. Fowler, national chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Mr. Fowler's comments marked the first time that a high party official publicly accused Mr. Starr, a top Justice Department official in the Bush administration, of harboring a political agenda.

Asked whether he believes that Mr. Starr is "an instrument of the Republican Party," Mr. Fowler said, "Yes."

THE PULSE OF PAULSEN Perennial presidential candidate Pat Paulsen was in Chicago in 1968, and he's here again, for what he says will be his last political convention.

Mr. Paulsen could be found yesterday standing on a downtown street corner, passing out buttons, bumper stickers and self-satirizing campaign literature in return for a small donation. One convention attendee passed by and dropped a dollar bill in Mr. Paulsen's nearly empty tin can. Mr. Paulsen looked the donation over and grumbled, "Democrats are cheaper."

Mr. Paulsen's campaign button, taking off on Reform Party candidate Ross Perot's motto, declares, "United We Sit."

MISSING MR. CARTER

Those who watched the Republican National Convention on cable saw two former GOP presidents and the wife of a third, but viewers this week will not see the only living former Democratic president, Jimmy Carter.

Tim Russert, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," asked Sen. Christopher J. Dodd why. Mr. Dodd is general chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

"I was told that an invitation was extended, and I don't know the timing of it," Mr. Dodd said. "I fully expected him to be here, thought he would be here, was looking forward to him speaking here."

But the Connecticut senator said Mr. Carter is "apparently on vacation or going on vacation with his family, already made plans. I think it is sort of a gap we'll have here to have our only living . …