Watch CBSN Live

Clinton Changes The Subject

President Clinton ventured out from his vacation Thursday to introduce a new guide to help prevent school violence. He did not speak about Monica Lewinsky, as some prominent Democrats had urged.

Mr. Clinton, in his first public appearance since admitting an inappropriate relationship with Lewinsky, said the education guide "will help schools recognize a troubled and potentially violent young person."

He also ordered the expansion of the Police Corps to provide more college scholarships, with preference given to the children of police officers killed in duty.

Republicans said in advance that Mr. Clinton's trip was a futile mission, that he cannot shed the image of having "wagged his finger and lied in the face of every American," as the party's chairman put it.

President Clinton, who left his Martha's Vineyard vacation to deliver the speech, got a warm airport welcome from high school students who were given the morning off from school. Massachusetts' two Democratic U.S. senators and four Democratic congressmen turned out to greet him as well.

But there were reminders of the Lewinsky investigation wherever he went.

As the president's motorcade traveled along Pleasant Street, bystanders waved and smiled but one held up a sign that said, "Mr. Clinton, time to resign."

The president was trying to change the subject from his personal behavior to his political agenda, reports CBS News White House Correspondent Bill Plante.

Our Full Coverage
of this Ongoing Story

With one eye to the polls, many Democrats have been delaying decisions on whether to embrace Mr. Clinton in their fall re-election campaigns, and freshman Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern, whose seat has been targeted by the GOP, appeared to have mixed emotions at 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."

Also, Mr. Clinton is keeping track of Hurricane Bonnie and has consulted by telephone with James Lee Witt, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Thursday's trip was intended by the White House to show that the president is engaged and not paralyzed by his personal problems, Plante says. But it's difficult. Not too many congressmen want him to campaign in their districts.

Clintons sailing with Cronkite (CBS)
The Worcester detour came near te close of Mr. Clinton's 12-day vacation. First lady Hillary Rodham did not accompany her husband to Worcester. "When she vacations, she vacations," says Barry Toiv, White House deputy press secretary.

It has been an alternately low-key and hectic vacation for the president. So far, he has:

  • Ordered retaliatory and pre-emptive missile strikes against purported terrorist sites in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan.
  • Signed an executive order establishing a food-safety council.
  • 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.
  • Confined himself mostly to private meals with close friends and family.
  • Sailed for 90 minutes with Hillary, daughter Chelsea, and veteran newsman Walter Cronkite. All three Clintons grinned, waving to news cameras and a crowd on the wharf.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue