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Clinton Is Easily Riding Out Storm, Poll Finds

<i> From Associated Press</i>

President Clinton is drawing high marks for his job performance despite swirling questions over campaign financing, Whitewater and his personal life, a new poll says.

The Pew Research Center survey found people are hearing a drumbeat of negative news about the president but, so far, it doesn’t seem to matter.

“The American public has no nerve endings,” said Andrew Kohut, survey director. “They overwhelmingly told us all they hear about Bill Clinton is scandal,” then gave him a thumbs up, he said.

Overall, 60% approved of the way Clinton is handling his job, a record in Pew polls and up 1 point from one taken the week before his second inauguration. Thirty-two percent disapproved, also up 1 point.

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The new survey was taken from Thursday to Sunday, amid continuing revelations about Democratic fund-raising but before the release of documents showing Clinton’s direct involvement in offering big donors White House access.

In a USA Today-CNN-Gallup poll done after that disclosure, 42% said Clinton was wrong to invite large contributors to stay in the Lincoln Bedroom. Even so, 53% said the issue was irrelevant to his character and job.

Kohut said sensitivities about Clinton’s personal issues might be aroused if problems developed in matters most important to the public, such as the economy, or if Republicans began speaking up credibly on campaign finance.

But right now, “his zeroing in on education and his other policy initiatives are right on in terms of the public’s agenda,” he said.

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