Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clinton's Big Edge: Personal Appeal

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clinton's Big Edge: Personal Appeal

Article excerpt

IF Bill Clinton was going to run for Mr. Sociability next year, he would probably be reelected. As he hosted a party on the White House south lawn a few evenings ago, the president showed once again how personable and charming he can be.

This time Mr. Clinton strutted his stuff at a picnic for the press. As he walked around the tables, warmly greeting reporters who, for the most part, have been sharply critical of his performance of late, the president was reminding us that he's a world-class politician.

When political reporters go to a party, they never get away from talking about their major interest in life: politics. Oh, yes, on this particular evening they were also extolling the merits of the food, especially the strawberry shortcake topped with ice cream. And they were giving the weather high marks simply because a threatened thunderstorm had not arrived.

But as I roamed about, I frequently heard these journalists chewing over the prospects for the presidential race just over the horizon. An often-heard comment: that there was no one among the present crop of GOP challengers who could match Clinton when it comes to campaigning.

Now just because Clinton is such a likable fellow when he is out on the hustings pressing the flesh and being folksy and warm, it doesn't mean that will be enough for him to hang on to his job. But that attribute will take him far, particularly if his opponent is a Bob Dole or a Phil Gramm, the present Republican leaders in the polls. Lamar Alexander is the most personable among the GOP aspirants. But as a campaigner Alexander has yet to show he is in the president's class.

A new Washington Post-ABC poll suggests that Americans are divided down the middle on the issues now being hotly debated in the country: balancing the federal budget, flag burning, affirmative action, abortion, and normalizing diplomatic relations with Vietnam. …

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