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Local Experts Weigh in on Clinton Scandal; Republicans Wait for Possible Election Windfall

Posted January 22, 1998

— The whole world wants to know whether or not the allegations against the president are true.

If they are true, everyone wants to know why a person with so much to lose would take such a risk.

Presidents engaging in extra-marital affairs is nothing new. But, what is new is the widespread reporting of this information. Today politicians have enemies, and any misstep in their private lives can easily become front-page news.

Knowing this, the big question is why would anyone take the risk? Duke University political scientist David Paletz says that Clinton has gotten away with it in the past.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles. "He's gotten away with it in the past. Despite whatever accusations have been made against him, he's made it to the highest office in the land."

The alleged affair between Clinton and Monica Lewinsky undermines the moral fiber of America. Infidelity and deceit are common, but we don't expect to see them in the Oval Office. Paletz says that lots of folks expect stronger morals from their president.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles. "There are expectations that presidential behavior will be better and greater than the ordinary person."

In reality, Paletz says presidents are human and make mistakes. But the public desire for moral purity makes coming clean an unsavory choice.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles. "No American president, is going to come out and say, 'Yes, I am having sex all over the place with as many women, men -- anyone I can find.' That's highly unlikely."

And, Clinton is not the only one with something at stake, the American people may have the most to lose, according to Paletz.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles. "The result of this is just more cynicism, cynicism about the office, cynicism about politicians and there's too much of that already."

Paletz says he does not believe that President Clinton is the kind of person who would bow to pressure and step down. As far as impeachment goes, he says it's too early to talk about it.

Could these allegations against the president hurt Democrats in state government? It depends on who you ask.

Republicans and Democrats are both waiting. Everyone wants to know about what really happened between Clinton and Lewinsky.

If the allegations are true, Richard Hudson of the North Carolina Republican Party says that local Republican candidates could be in for easy November victories.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles. "We could have a year like Democrats had in 1974, where virtually every Republican on the ballot could win."

Dr. Abraham Holtzman, a Clinton supporter, disagrees. The N.C. State political professor says that President Nixon's resignation was a different type of scandal that brewed for two years.

He doesn't think Clinton's situation will have any effect on whom North Carolina voters will pick at the polls.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles. "I don't see any huge turnout of Republicans because of this. I don't see any huge withdrawal of Democrats because of this."

State Democratic leaders whom WRAL contacted were not talking because the allegations are just that, at this point. The North Carolina Democratic Party is focusing on Clinton's past achievements, and it is looking ahead.

Kevin Gwynn, the Dem's political director says, "We are looking forward to the president's State of the Union address and are focusing on his accomplishments. These will be the issues people look at. That's what we are concentrating on."

Political analysts say even if the allegations are false, they will still damage the president. Whether it will damage the Democratic party is what remains a mystery. and Melissa Buscher

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