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Monday, 19 February, 2001, 11:35 GMT
Analysis: Clinton losing Democrat support

US media give Clinton bad press
By Katty Kay in Washington

At a time when Bill Clinton is trying to carve out his post-presidential role, he is losing the support of his own party.

Mr Clinton has said that he is bewildered by all the fuss over his pardon of the fugitive financier Marc Rich.

Less than a month ago Mr Clinton left office to a hail of party cheers. He was lauded as the king-maker and the natural Democratic party grandee.

But now even Democrats are beginning to distance themselves from the scandal-prone leader.

Rash of scandal

From dubious pardons, to questionable gifts to expensive office space, Bill Clinton has been the subject of unflattering headlines since leaving the White House.

And the bad publicity is affecting his future role.

Marc Rich
Marc Rich: His pardon may stain Cliinton's legacy
Democratic Congressman Barney Frank has said that it is "appalling" that Mr Clinton's pardon of the financier was "so insensitive to what is right and wrong".

And the Chairman of Georgia's Democrats, David Worley echoed the feelings of many Democrats when he said that because of the controversies it is "time to look to new leadership".

Even those who accept the Republican conspiracy argument agree that the bad publicity will hamper Mr Clinton's ability to rally voters and raise funds for the party.

What lay behind the decision?

But what really perplexes Americans is why has somebody who is such a consummate politician made so many political blunders in such a short time?

How is it that the president so closely associated with scandal is already the subject of a Congressional inquiry?

Bill Clinton says he pardoned Marc Rich purely on the merits of the case. Is that really the whole story?

Bill and Hillary Clinton
The Clintons have survived several scandals
Critics have noted that Denise Rich, the financier's wife, contributed nearly half a million dollars to the Clinton Presidential Library and more than a million dollars to the Democratic Party.

Did her contributions influence the pardon? Bill Clinton says no. Americans are not so sure.

So far Denise Rich is refusing to answer questions in Congress.

Was accepting the luxurious gifts and renting the expensive offices political naivety or pure greed?

According to a new opinion poll 47% of Americans believe the Clinton's have earned a new greedy image since leaving the White House.

Clearly Bill Clinton needs to rid himself of all the bad publicity if he is to have any role at all.

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See also:

15 Feb 01 | Americas
Clinton faces criminal inquiry
15 Feb 01 | Americas
Q&A: Clinton pardon row
14 Feb 01 | Americas
Senate probes Clinton pardons
26 Jan 01 | Americas
Clinton gifts under scrutiny
20 Jan 01 | Americas
Clinton pardons 100
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