Starting Over

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Four years after Bill Clinton won the White House, only to be dashed by the public perception of his arrogance, and a year after Newt Gingrich followed a similar arc, the two men have been given a second chance at governing. But whether the two will create a bipartisan consensus or hunker down into the bitter scorched earth fight that produced gridlock and government shutdown last year remains to be seen. A bipartisan spirit will be needed to tackle the growing problems of campaign-finance reform and reforming entitlements. On the surface, leaders from both sides seem ready to work with the opposition. "I think you'll see us try to reach out and find a common ground with President Clinton," Gingrich said after the votes were counted. The GOP will still push for tax cuts, fewer federal regulations, reduction in federal spending and balancing the budget. Congress also will continue its investigations into the Clinton administration on a range of ethics issues, the latest being questionable foreign donations to the Democratic Party. White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta claims that the message from the election was that voters want compromise not partisan warfare. "The American people have really rejected four years of those kinds of allegations that led nowhere," Panetta said. "If we bog down in the kind of gridlock and partisanship and attacks that we saw over the last two years, I think the American people will reject that."