Magazine article Newsweek

The Sidekick Declares His Independence: Stephanopoulos Ponders Life after Clinton

Magazine article Newsweek

The Sidekick Declares His Independence: Stephanopoulos Ponders Life after Clinton

Article excerpt

Bill Clinton was getting mauled. The president was in Chautauqua, N.Y., boning up for his first debate with Bob Dole. Former senator George Mitchell, portraying Dole, was pounding Clinton for promising to cut taxes and then raising them. Red-faced and exasperated, Clinton finally turned to George Stephanopoulos and asked: "What do I do?"

The 35-year-old presidential aide is used to such questions. Since 1991, Clinton has had the young Rhodes scholar by his side. And as the campaign ends, all debate advice is filtered through him (along with pollster Mark Penn). But this may be Stephanopoulos's last mission. He's telling friends that he wants out of the White House. "After the election, I have a lot to think about," Stephanopoulos told Newsweek.

No kidding. Stephanopoulos is a professional protege - helping the late Rev. Timothy Healy run the New York Public Library, counting floor votes for Richard Gephardt and crafting policy and press strategy for Clinton. His friend Eric Alterman notes that Stephanopoulos "has always had to live by someone else's agenda." And their whims, too. At times, Stephanopoulos was out of favor with Clinton, especially after the 1994 GOP landslide when the president turned to Dick Morris for advice. By gritting his teeth and working with Morris, he survived.

What would a Citizen Stephanopoulos do? He's interested in cobbling together a combination of speaking tours, writing and teaching - perhaps at his alma mater, Columbia University. …

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