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Dole Campaign Press Release - A Bridge to Government Paralysis

November 01, 1996

Former Senator Howard Baker (R-TN) released the following statement today:

"I am a life-long Republican, and an unabashed supporter of Bob Dole -- but I take no pleasure in believing that if President Clinton is victorious on election day, then the bridge he offers won't be one to the 21st century, but one that will take us back to 1973 and 1974.

"During those years, I served as the ranking Republican on the Senate Watergate Committee. It was not a pleasant time for me -- or, more importantly, for America. Our citizens grew cynical and distrustful of their government -- a government that was all but paralyzed for nearly two years, as both the Executive and Congressional branches literally put everything on hold to deal with the scandal.

"With each passing day, the similarities between the increasing number of Clinton White House scandals and Watergate become more numerous. Then, as now, original wrongs have been made worse by a policy of denial and delay. Then, as now, the White House has engaged in a policy of 'stonewalling' the media and the public. Then, as now, White House statements made one day were suddenly 'inoperative' the next. Then, as now, America's expectations in the integrity of their public servants are being lowered.

"Even if one assumes the best about President Clinton, it seems beyond question that questions about and investigations into White House scandals would escalate dramatically during a second term, drawing the President further away from the more important concerns of his office. The ramifications of a part-time President would be felt around the world, as a weakened American eader battling for survival spent less and less time on foreign affairs. With a possible succession crisis in Russia, continued military engagement in the Balkans, and perennial difficulties in the Middle East, a disengaged Commander in Chief is precisely what America does not need.

"As an American first and a Republican second, I am also disturbed the lack of Congressional Democrats who are willing to express any concern over the White House antics. To be sure, there were Republicans who thought Watergate was nothing more than partisan politics even after the discovery of the 'smoking gun.' But there were also thoughtful Republicans like Bill Cohen, and Attorney General Elliot Richardson, who understood that we are a nation of laws, not of men.

"Thankfully, there are some Democrats who agree that public character is an issue of preeminent importance. Griffin Bell, the highly respected former jurist who served as Attorney General in the Carter Administration, recently introduced Bob Dole in a speech in Georgia, leaving no doubt that he believed Americans deserved much better than what we've received these past four years.

"And Jerome Zeifman--the Democrat Chief Counsel of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate era--recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal that 'The misdeeds of the Clinton administration have fallen into a pattern of deceit and corruption that now clearly justifies denying Mr. Clinton a second term in office.'

"A President weakened by political scandal, increasingly enmeshed in personal struggles rather than the people's business; protracted legal battles involving current and former White House officials; and, in the end, a precipitous drop in public regard for the institutions of the executive branch -- America has 'been there and done that' in 1973 and 1974 and take it from one who was there -- We don't need to travel that bridge again."

Robert Dole, Dole Campaign Press Release - A Bridge to Government Paralysis Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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