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Tuesday, September 22, 1998 Published at 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK

Clinton 'not hurt' by tapes

The president and the intern: A photo released from the Starr inquiry

Philippa Thomas: Clinton's poll figures rising
There are signs that President Clinton may have emerged relatively unscathed after the broadcast of more than four hours of testimony on his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

First polls suggest support for the president has risen since the nation's networks broadcast Mr Clinton's video-taped Grand Jury testimony in the Lewinsky affair.

[ image: Approval ratings recovered]
Approval ratings recovered
According to the poll - by USA Today, CNN and Gallup - 66% of respondents are opposed to beginning impeachment proceedings against the president, compared with 60% on Sunday, and 63% last week.

In the unprecedented, four-hour broadcast, the president strongly denied telling anyone to lie and argued about the definition of sexual relations.

But those expecting to see the president losing his composure were disappointed.

Clinton's first reaction to the broadcast
White House Communications Director Ann Lewis said the barrage of questions from the prosecutors on Mr Clinton's sexual conduct "confirmed for us that (sex) really has become the focus on this independent counsel's report.

"It does not come close to constituting the grounds for removal of a president from office," she insisted.

In his first comments since the broadcast, President Clinton said he was focusing on the business of being president.

"I don't have anything to add" on the Lewinsky affair, he said during an exchange with reporters while posing for pictures with the Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi.

Congressmen react

[ image:  ]
But Republicans said the video showed Mr Clinton being clearly evasive.

"I think most people who saw the tape would say the president dodged questions essential to determining if he committed perjury," said Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a member of the House Judiciary Committee that will decide what course to take.

Another Republican member of the Judiciary Committee Charles Canady, said: "It is not a pretty sight. It is sad to see the president in these circumstances.

[ image: Charles Canady:
Charles Canady: "Video is not a pretty sight"
"But the key thing we are focusing on is did he lie under oath - that is what we are trying to find out."

Robert Scott, a Democrat member of the committee, attacked the decision to release the video evidence before the House of Representatives had been allowed to properly assess all the information.

He said: "By releasing this information and the 2000 or more pages [of additional evidence] we stand the risk of ruining people's lives and we have not even established whether the information is relevant."

'The people want to move on'

[ image: Public opinion: Politicians watch and wait]
Public opinion: Politicians watch and wait
David Gergen, a former adviser to President Clinton, believes that no clear way of resolving the situation has presented itself to the American public.

"There are some that want it to go away by just dropping it, and others say let's get it over with by having him resign or by impeaching him.

"But I think the one thing that people are united on is that they do want this to go away, and to go away quickly."

John Leyne in Washington: "Initial reaction seems favourable"
On Wall Street the reaction was mixed, but the market appeared relieved that Mr Clinton's testimony contained no new surprises.

"The rumours rolling around Wall Street were far worse than anything in the report," said Bill Meehan, chief strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald.

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