This Just In From The Rose Garden

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: What better election year move than President Clinton, in the Rose Garden, surrounded by young parents, ordering insurance companies to be kind to new mothers? Thursday morning, the President signed a bill requiring a minimum two days of hospital coverage after women give birth, instead of the one-day minimum guaranteed by many plans. Women who deliver by Cesarean section would be able to stay up to four days. Despite arguments that most births are normal and that many mothers would be better off getting out of the hospital under those circumstances, White House polling shows wide support for the measure, which Clinton called a "common sense" step to avoid medical complications that can follow birth. Standing with the President and four families who have benefited from longer hospital stays, Hillary Clinton said the bill is an example of "grassroots concerns making it to the top." Although the White House painted the new law as a victory over partisanship, GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole is unlikely to praise it. The Republican has accused Clinton of pushing "a million little programs" designed to win voter support without spending much taxpayer money. "The bill is a full embrace of women voters," says TIME's James Carney. "In political terms, it is an attempt to exacerbate the large polling gap Dole faces with women. As for its political significance, it is not a threshold issue that is likely to resonate for a week, but it adds another arrow to Clinton's quiver. He will definitely mention it during the debates." Jenifer Mattos