Students, Glendening stand by Clinton Scandal does not upstage visit, speech on education

March 17, 1998|By David Folkenflik | David Folkenflik,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

SILVER SPRING -- At a time when the White House is again awash in allegations of sexual misconduct, President Clinton found a raucously enthusiastic reception at a suburban high school in nearby Montgomery County.

Hundreds of Springbrook High School juniors and seniors cheered the president and brushed off any accusations against him.

"Personally, I don't care about his sex life or what he does outside his office," said Paul Goldberg, a junior. "Possibly the president could have made some advances, or these women could have been fantasizing about being with someone that powerful. As long as he's able to do his job, all is fine."

Clinton told students that low scores by U.S. high school students on international math and science tests constituted "a big national headache," and he called for states to institute more rigorous standards in those fields. He also took the opportunity to promote his education agenda, which includes more federal money for teachers and school construction, tax breaks for college tuition, and additional scholarship money for undergraduates.

The president's talk was preceded by a round-table discussion on science instruction with educators and public officials, among them Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who reiterated his long-standing support for the president.

On Sunday, in a televised interview, former White House aide Kathleen Willey said that she was kissed and groped by Clinton and that he perjured himself in denying the allegation. But Glendening declined to be drawn into the controversy.

"I'm not getting involved in all those discussions. I just follow what he's doing for the country, what he's doing, most importantly, for education, the environment, the economy. And from all those perspectives, he is doing an absolutely great job," Glendening said.

"The economy has never been stronger. Not only do we have peace around the world, but I think about what he's doing in the really crucial areas, like education and the environment, and that is all that really matters to me."

Asked whether he believed Clinton's denials, the governor said: "I support the president. I have no knowledge of any reason not to believe him, and I continue to strongly support the president. I think he's doing the right thing and the country is headed in the right direction."

His comments were echoed by more than a dozen students and several teachers interviewed at the school, whose students come from a county that has been a reliable source of Clinton votes.

Said Ina Johnson, a Springbrook music teacher who identified herself as a Republican who voted for Clinton: "I'm not in a position to judge. I think the man has done an outstanding job."

Pub Date: 3/17/98

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