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Monday, December 21, 1998 Published at 18:14 GMT


US public wants censure not trial

President Clinton's approval soars during times of crisis

Although the US House of Representatives has passed articles of impeachment, polls show the public wants to avoid a trial in the Senate and opt for censure.

A CBS News/New York Times poll found that 63% of respondents said they would like the Senate to craft a compromise, while 31% said the Senate should go ahead with a trial.

Support for resignation also appears to have evaporated following the vote.

An NBC poll over the weekend showed 62% of respondents want Mr Clinton to remain in office, up 11% from a survey taken Tuesday.

No repeat of history

In contrast to the Watergate scandal when President Nixon's approval ratings dipped to an abysmal 24% as impeachment moved forward, President Clinton's personal approval rating improved after the House passed two articles of impeachment.


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Among other polls, one from CNN/USA Today/Gallup said that President Clinton's approval rating stood at 73%. That is not only an all-time high for Mr Clinton, but it is also better than the highest approval rating for Ronald Reagan.

Support for resignation ebbs

Although several polls before the vote suggested public support for resignation might surge following passage of articles of impeachment, the opposite seems to have happened.

Pollsters for the Washington Post and ABC News asked people two separate questions on resignation.

They asked if the president should resign instead of "fight the charges" in the Senate, and in a separate question, whether Mr Clinton should "remain in office and stand trial in the Senate."

In answer to the first question, support for resignation dropped from 57% last Tuesday to 42% over the weekend. When asked the second question, respondents support for resignation dropped from 43% to 33% between Tuesday and the weekend.



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