Governor deplores Clinton as role model 'Major' apology wanted for Lewinsky scandal

September 06, 1998|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,SUN STAFF

Gov. Parris N. Glendening chastised President Clinton yesterday for failing to provide a positive role model for American youth and confirmed that an invitation to Clinton for a Glendening fund-raiser next month has been withdrawn.

The governor called on the president to offer a "major, sincere apology."

The president said in Ireland Friday that he was "sorry" for his "inappropriate" sexual relationship with former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky, but Glendening joined a chorus of critics who have urged Clinton to be even more apologetic.

"His behavior was inappropriate, and it was wrong," the governor said during an impromptu press conference yesterday morning in Fells Point, where he was campaigning.

Clinton's presidency deserves every accolade for the nation's "phenomenal" economy, Glendening said, but the Lewinsky matter leaves parents "dismayed" as they try to mold the behavior of their children. He and hiswife, Frances Anne, face the same vexing concerns, he said.

"We have an 18-year-old son. We're trying to teach him to be responsible for his actions," the governor said. "You need role models in terms of [showing young people] how to do this, and this makes it even worse." The Glendenings' son, Raymond, attends West Virginia University.

Though political observers have characterized Glendening as the most vulnerable of the nation's governors, he and his advisers find themselves unable to borrow the help of a Democratic president whose mere presence would normally bring welcome news media attention as well as campaign contributions.

With a potentially explosive report due from independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, Democrats at every level have been scurrying for political safety. Their situation has been complicated by persistently high ratings accorded the president's job performance.

Gore is welcome

Glendening said yesterday that he still hopes that Vice President Al Gore will come to Maryland on a fund-raising mission.

In another decision with political overtones, Glendening said yesterday that he might not be on hand for the pre-game celebration today when the Baltimore Ravens stadium opens for its first regular-season game. Construction of the $223 million stadium in Baltimore continues to create political problems for Glendening in areas where it was not a popular project.

Yesterday morning, the governor said he would probably arrive at the game before the end of the first quarter -- after the gala picture-taking and television coverage he may wish to avoid. Yesterday afternoon, a campaign spokesman said the governor was 90 percent certain to be at the opening ceremony.

The leading Republican challenger, Ellen R. Sauerbrey, said she was not surprised.

Finger to the wind

"Is he coming in disguise?" she asked. "He's not going to run away from the fact that he has given Maryland a team that was bought and paid for by the most ridiculously generous taxpayer-financed deal anywhere."

As for Glendening's decision to un-invite Clinton, she said, "As usual, Parris has his finger up to the wind, making his decisions based on what the polls say and not what he has any conviction about," she said.

Sauerbrey agreed with Glendening, though, that Clinton had set a poor example.

Glendening had declined earlier to withdraw his invitation to Clinton, but a rising chorus of criticism directed at the president convinced the governor that the president of the United States has become a political liability.

"I don't believe the president will be there," Glendening said dryly yesterday. "I think he'll be focusing on problems of the nation."

Glendening made clear that he worries about the damage he might face when Starr delivers his report on the Lewinsky matter TC to Congress -- probably before the general election on Nov. 3.

Asked yesterday what had changed since his statements of support after Clinton's speech to the nation Aug. 17 acknowledging the affair, Glendening said: "It's becoming clear that this is a continuing and increasing controversy that makes it very, very difficult [for him] to face the challenges that are facing us. Somehow, he has to take whatever action is necessary to show the public he understands that he knows how inappropriate it was."

The governor said his earlier decision to make the president welcome was based on Clinton's job performance as president. He said he is still a Clinton supporter and believes most of the American people are.

Glendening declined to say whether he thinks Clinton should be censured or removed from office: "That's going to have to come out of the Congress, because who knows what the report says."

Glendening's running mate, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who will visit Clinton in Washington Tuesday, said she agrees that he should not come to the fund-raiser.

"The governor and the president understand the situation," she said. "This is a tough time for him. He has to make it clear how sorry he is and be very straightforward about his own actions."

Before heading out for campaigning yesterday, Glendening breakfasted with former Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who is running for state comptroller.

Several well-wishers dropped by Schaefer's table to welcome him back into political life.

"Glad your career's not over," one of them said.

"Oh, no, I'm running for president next," Schaefer said with a grin.

"We could use some help there, too," the man said.

Schaefer rolled his eyes and said, "Yeah, even Glendening's throwing him over."

Pub Date: 9/06/98

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