Clinton Back Squarely on the Fence

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: First Bill Clinton distanced himself from Congressional elections, telling the Washington Post today that he would not be campaigning as energetically for Democratic congressional candidates as he would for his own re-election: "The American people don't think it's the President's business to tell them what ought to happen in the congressional elections." But after Ron Wyden gave Democracts the biggest lift they've had in two years, Clinton's spokesman Mike McCurry put the President back in the fray. "He will campaign early and often with Democratic candidates and he's going to elect a whole bunch of them," said McCurry. "He might even elect a majority in the Congress." Says TIME's James Carney: "Clinton is taking a lot of heat from Congressional Democrats for those Post comments. But, in fact, they were sensible. After all, this is not a parliamentary system in which he is first of all the head of the party. He must put some distance between himself and the Democrats. His mistake was answering the question so explicitly. Obviously, he would love to have the Democrats back in power. But if he hitches his horse to the Congressional campaign wagon, he's not going to do very well. Right now the Democratic party is in a lot more trouble than Bill Clinton is as president. Even though the Republicans have dropped precipitously in the polls, very few people give the Democrats a chance of retaking either the Senate or the House. Whereas Clinton certainly looks competitive at the moment. More than competitive."