Chinese Connection Has GOP Drooling

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WASHINGTON: This one could be for real. Republicans have finally found themselves a presidential scandal that goes beyond land deals, beyond peccadilloes, all the way to the selling of America's national security. And they don't want to blow it this time.

The momentum is already there. In the House, legislation banning Clinton from brokering technology transfers on his upcoming China trip rolled through with a 417-4 vote -- and similar measures are on the way. The message was clear: Clinton cannot be trusted with U.S. security. And the fact that Democrats rolled over for the onslaught shows how just worried they are. "This is a scandal of a different order of magnitude," says TIME congressional correspondent John Dickerson. "Democrats can't respond to this one with the usual accusations of partisanship."

And Newt Gingrich wants to keep it that way. The small eight-person select committee he assembled Wednesday to address the issue is built for discretion and dignity, and its Republican chairman, Christopher Cox, has already achieved in his first round of interviews a credibility level of which Dan Burton never dreamed. In the GOP, the word is out: This is a big one. Let's not fumble the ball.