Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clinton Drops in on a Washington Power Breakfast the Candidate Discusses Yeltsin, His Use of TV to Reach Voters, and the Media's Handling of the Character Issue

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clinton Drops in on a Washington Power Breakfast the Candidate Discusses Yeltsin, His Use of TV to Reach Voters, and the Media's Handling of the Character Issue

Article excerpt

PEOPLE often ask how Monitor breakfasts are put together. Sometimes they are planned days in advance.

Sometimes they take shape only the day before. Then once in a while they are improvised and produced "on the spot" - as one was the other morning when Bill Clinton dropped by.

We journalists were having our breakfast with four shapers of the Democratic platform at the Sheraton Carlton Hotel. As we were finishing our hour-long session, we learned that Governor Clinton was meeting with his staff in an adjoining room. So at our request, one of our guests, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D) of Connecticut, walked next door to invite Clinton to join us. And he did.

Clinton had told Senator Lieberman that he only had time to come by to say "hello." It turned out to be a "Big Hello." He first walked around to shake hands with a group numbering more than 30. Then he sat down and talked and talked.

He said he had returned only minutes before from meeting with Boris Yeltsin at Blair House. "How did it go?" a newsman asked. "Very well," said Clinton. "He was extremely gracious, and we had a nice visit. I told him that I thought he deserved a lot of credit for the arms control agreement - something that he undertook at some risk back home."

What did Clinton "think of Yeltsin?" someone else asked. "I found him just the way the Congress found him," Clinton replied. "He's a very impressive fellow. He's been on this road for years. He's been very consistent. And he represents a dramatic departure from anything we've ever seen in Russia. He is a genuine democrat."

(Here a query from some reporter: "Small D or Big D?") "Small D," said Clinton. "I really think he sees himself as fighting a war against bureaucracy and for an open-market system. And I think we ought to be in there helping him."

This was Clinton's first disclosure to the press and public of what was said at his meeting with Mr. Yeltsin. Later in the day there were TV sound bites that briefly told of the amicable get-together. But nowhere else did I see the detailed accounting of what transpired that we were getting that morning.

Clinton also indicated to us that he has a strong interest in foreign affairs - that he might even take some trips abroad before the election and meet with some other global leaders. …

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