Former White House advisor Dick Morris in a new book portrays President Clinton as “haunted” by the possibility of a Colin L. Powell candidacy and charges that the chief executive once called Bob Dole “an evil, evil man.”
“That is not the president’s view of Sen. Dole,” White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry said Friday. “I asked the president . . . and he said, ‘Of course, that’s not right.’ ”
In his memoirs, “Behind the Oval Office: Winning the Presidency in the Nineties,” Morris, who resigned as a presidential political consultant after an affair with a Washington prostitute was revealed in August, described Clinton as insulated from the outside world by a sometimes bickering and divided staff.
“The specter of Gen. Colin Powell’s presidential candidacy cost Bill Clinton sleep and, when he did sleep, doubtless haunted his dreams throughout October and early November of 1995,” Morris said. “The president did not believe he could beat Powell.”
The 48-year-old consultant who was credited with devising the strategy for Clinton’s comeback after disastrous Democratic defeats in the 1994 congressional elections, said the president predicted of a Powell candidacy: “He’ll take away blacks, he’ll separate himself from the congressional Republicans, he’ll run a great campaign, and he’ll beat me bad.”
But these fears abated, Morris said, after polling data showed that when other candidates would have dropped out of the Republican primaries, Dole would have defeated Powell by more than a 2-to-1 margin had the former general decided to run.
Morris charged that after Elizabeth Hanford Dole’s memorable speech on behalf of her husband at the GOP convention in San Diego, the president phoned him.
“He felt that the Kansas senator was getting a free ride, and he worried that I was unwilling for him to attack Dole often or vehemently enough,” Morris said.
“While on vacation in Wyoming, he screamed into the phone at me, ‘He’s an evil, evil man. . . . He likes cutting food stamps. He likes it. He enjoys cutting Medicare. He relishes slashing education. He loves cutting immigrants. It’s how he gets his kicks. This is not a good man.”
Clinton has looked at part of the book, McCurry said. “He thought the book was interesting. There are parts of it that he disagrees with. There are some things that are factually wrong.”
In his memoir, Morris apologized for the sex scandal that resulted in his downfall. He denied that he shared any presidential secrets with his companion, even though he put the phone “to her ear for a moment or two so she could hear his [Clinton’s] voice.”