President Clinton plans a cruise back into the policy spotlight, taking another break from a two-week vacation on Martha's Vineyard, Mass.
Air Force One will fly Mr. Clinton from his island vacation on Thursday to Worcester, Mass., where he will stump for his school safety and juvenile crime initiatives and plug the re-election campaign of the area's Democratic congressman.
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The Monica Lewinsky uproar has put Mr. Clinton on the defensive, with critics claiming he has lost moral authority and is crippled both politically and in his ability to advance his agenda in Congress.
But Mr. Clinton was conceding no lost ground.
"The president intends to fight very, very vigorously, as he has every year, for his initiatives," deputy press secretary Barry Toiv said.
"He has the leverage he has always had," Toiv asserted. "First of all, the American people support him on these issues. And secondly, he carries a very big [veto] pen."
It has been a frequently interrupted vacation for the president. Near its beginning, Mr. Clinton ordered retaliatory and pre-emptive missile strikes against purported terrorist sites in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan.
Tuesday brought a few nuggets as well, all portraying a president with his hand on the government's tiller. Mr. Clinton signed an executive order establishing a food safety council. He talked by phone for half an hour with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. He outlined objectives for next week's summit with Yeltsin in Moscow and stressed again that the Russian government must get its economic affairs in order.
But the Lewinsky crisis has yet to run its course, and aides in Washington discussed setting up a special team to guide Mr. Clinton's defense in Congress in the event of a report on the investigation by independent counsel Kenneth Starr.
The Worcester trip was scheduled after Mr. Clinton decided to accept a standing invitation from the area's Democratic member of Congress, Rep. Jim McGovern.
One eye to the polls, many Democrats have been delaying decisions on whether to embrace Mr. Clinton in their fall re-election campaigns, and McGovern, whose seat has been targeted by the GOP, appeared to have mixed emotions at the news the president was actually coming to his district.
On the one hand, he said his constituents are "hungry to talk about the issues." On the other, he said he is "disappointed in the president's personal behavior."
Republicans contended the presidential visit plays to their advantage.
"It looks like the odds f winning the 3rd district just went up," said Mark Pfeifle, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. "If McGovern were put on truth serum, even he would admit he wishes Mr. Clinton weren't coming to town," he said.
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