Plain folk get Clinton squirming

'HAVE Hillary Invest My dollars 1,000,' said an unkind banner held by a protester in Topeka, Kansas this week as President Bill Clinton arrived to hold a town-hall meeting with people from the heartland of America.

It was exactly what the White House did not want to see. The purpose of Mr Clinton's tour of North Carolina, Kansas and Minnesota this week was to show it is only Washington insiders who revel in the Whitewater affair. In Topeka people should be interested in health care and not in Hillary Clinton's brief dabble in cattle futures in 1978 which turned dollars 1,000 into dollars 100,000 in under 12 months.

Polls show that Americans think the media are too obsessed by Whitewater and the Clintons' business dealings in Arkansas. But that does not mean they are not interested. In Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday Mr Clinton got a nasty shock when, a few minutes into a meeting about crime and health, a local woman said his credibility had been undermined by Whitewater. 'How can you earn back our trust?' she asked.

Other questioners took up the theme and Mr Clinton was not at his best. During the presidential election campaign he outpointed his opponents in this sort of forum, sympathising with the problems of ordinary Americans.

In Charlotte he suddenly volunteered that Mrs Clinton got out of the commodities market in 1979 because of a margin call - putting up more money at the request of a broker to cover losses.

Mr Clinton said that analysts who criticised her 'must have never gotten a margin call in the commodities market because she did; and she was about to have a baby and got out of it'. For once he had mistaken his audience. The horrors of a margin call were not the most pressing problem facing the plain folks of Charlotte.

Two days later in Kansas the White House ensured Mr Clinton did not face another such embarrassment. Questions were confined to health care. The first was from Claire Shaffer, who asked why Washington ignored real public concerns like health care.

A smiling Mr Clinton said: 'I didn't write that question for her, honestly.' But it emerged Mrs Shaffer had first posed her query in a letter to Mrs Clinton. Knowing Mrs Shaffer was in the Kansas audience, an administration staff member had suggested her question be taken.

'We did not plant questions nor did we seed the audience,' the White House said later. But they had come close to it. Mr Clinton had also reinforced the impression that, whatever happened in Arkansas when he was governor, he is shifty about the details. Nobody can disprove Mrs Clinton's account of her sudden windfall in 1979 but there is much derision about the official story that she made it simply through ingenuity and good fortune. One cartoon shows a woman keeling over in shock as her husband, throwing open the door of their humble apartment, shouts: 'Cattle futures is where it's at] I just put all our savings in cattle futures]'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Joinery Shop Foreman

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Joinery Shop Foreman is required to join a p...

Recruitment Genius: Bench Joiner

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Bench Joiner is required to join a privately...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Recruitment and Sales People wanted f...

Recruitment Genius: Multi Skilled Engineer - Electrical / Mechanical / Maintenance

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A multi-skilled engineer with a...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada