TV ads revive Clinton scandal

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The Independent Online
THE GREAT unspoken issues of the 1998 mid-term elections - the Clinton sex scandal, lying under oath and the coming impeachment hearings - all burst upon the United States mid-term election campaign yesterday, leaving officials from both main parties scrambling to respond. With less than a week before voting, Washington was awash with talk of issues that a majority of candidates, and voters, had apparently chosen to ignore.

The Republican Party, faced with signs of a Democratic revival in the opinion polls, launched a $10m (pounds 6m) advertising campaign that for the first time capitalised on the Clinton scandal. Attempts by candidates in individual constituencies to use the issue to their advantage had produced mixed results, with some polls suggesting a backlash against too harsh a moral tone against the President.

The new advertisements, to be shown in districts where the races are particularly close, avoid the risk of being overly moralistic by leaving the sex aside and focusing on deception. One has the voice-over: "In every election there is a big question to think about. This year, the question is: Should we reward... Bill Clinton? And should we reward not telling the truth?" Another fades out with a silent clip of Mr Clinton wagging his finger at reporters and denying a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

The anti-Clinton blitz brought an immediate response from the White House, where the spokesman, Joe Lockhart, said that Republicans had "finally put their cards on the table". The Democratic National Committee said the adverts were "a $10m excuse for their failure to address the issues that people actually care about".