Republicans March Toward Impeachment

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With Republicans steadily defecting to the side of impeachment, a desperate White House is looking for something--anything--to stem the tide. CNN reported today that the President would make a "big announcement" after he returned from Israel late Tuesday. "This is Hail Mary territory, and they're trying to come up with any play that might work," says TIME congressional correspondent John Dickerson. "There's talk Clinton might go to the Hill, or that he might meet with some wavering Republicans." He better work fast, as the waverers are starting to fall. New York moderates Jack Quinn, John McHugh and Nancy Johnson have all come out against the President. Other prominent ex-waverers declaring themselves for impeachment today: Jim McCrery of Louisiana and Michael Forbes of New York. The tally now shows 13 GOP converts to impeachment, with a scant two days to go before a vote.

Special Report In the meantime, the anti-impeachment forces are working overtime. White House spokesman Joe Lockhart suggested that a vote for impeachment was a vote for economic recession. And Vice President Gore reminded representatives yet again that "the American people" were against impeachment. Even Bob Dole--while taking the opportunity to say "I told you so" -- came out against impeachment in a New York Times Op-Edpiece. Dole favors a scalding, bi-partisan rebuke from the House and Senate. All of which leaves the President with a little over a day to work the phones after he returns from the Middle East at midnight. The White House estimates there are still 20 to 30 approachable Republicans--it needs at least half of them to survive an impeachment vote. Better find a phone with speed dial.