Clinton, Strauss lay on charm at Dole dinner

July 02, 1993|By Carl M. Cannon

WASHINGTON -- Robert S. Strauss has brokered a lot of deals in his colorful career in Washington, but last night was one for the books: Mr. Strauss got together over dinner at Duke Zeibert's restaurant with President Clinton and his Republican nemesis, Sen. Bob Dole.

"It was a break-the-ice dinner," explained the White House press secretary, Dee Dee Myers. "And I think it took Strauss to do it."

The president and his advisers, confounded by the Dole-led filibuster that killed Mr. Clinton's stimulus package, spent much of May criticizing Mr. Dole. The Kansas Republican, known for his caustic wit, was only to happy to lob insults back.

Last night's dinner was one more front on the Clinton administration's charm offensive, a tack it took when all else seemed to fail and Mr. Clinton turned to former Republican David Gergen to help smooth out his communications staff.

Mr. Strauss, a millionaire lawyer originally from Texas, was once Democratic Party chief. He also, however, served in the administration of Republican George Bush, who appointed Mr. Strauss ambassador to Moscow.

The president and Mr. Strauss were accompanied by their wives. Mr. Dole's wife, Elizabeth, a former Cabinet official, was in California and could not be present.

Just before entering the restaurant, the presidential party stopped for news photographers.

The president appeared to be in a good mood, but he declined to answer any questions.

Later, as the party left the restaurant, Mr. Clinton was more expansive. He said, smiling: "We solved all the problems of the country. Bob Strauss did it; we just took notes."

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