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Republican Page Tying Democratic Opponent to Clinton

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RALEIGH — Republicans say the president's troubles could hurt Democratic congressional candidates.

Republican state Senator and congressional hopeful Dan Page is using the scandal in campaign ads - tying President Clinton to incumbent Bob Etheridge.

Page has bought enough air time to ensure that most TV viewers should see the ad at least twice. He's betting Clinton's negatives will rub off on Etheridge, but if voters are really sick of the scandal, the move could back-fire.

At first glance you'd think it's an ad against Bill Clinton. WRAL's Stuart Watson asked Page if he would say this ad is negative.

"Absolutely not," responded Page. "I think it's an ad dealing with the issues."

"I think those kind of things are the things that turn voters off," said Etheridge.

The Page campaign launched the ad days before the president's testimony before the grand jury. Page says the ad centers on the "character" issue.

"Bob Etheridge should have been out there from day one asking that Bill Clinton tell the truth, yet he's chosen to remain silent," said Page.

"The president has stood up now, said Etheridge. "He's told the truth he's said he has. He's talked to the grand jury. He's spoken to the American people. What else can you ask?"

Page and other Republicans are counting on tying Clinton's negatives to other Democrats.

The ad states, "Who will restore our values? Conservative Senator Dan Page. Dan Page believes character counts and morality matters."

"I think they're assuming the people of the Second District are dumb," said Page. "They're smart folks. They work hard. They're God-fearing, and they ain't going to put up with it."

The Page campaign claims to be the first campaign in the country to tie the Clinton scandal to a congressional race. Pages campaign officials say they've attracted national media attention and other campaigns are sure to follow, but Etheridge points out that he won two years ago in a district that Bob Dole carried and faced similar TV ads.