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Defining The Vote

As both parties claimed credit for a newly inked budget deal, Democrats and Republicans struggled on Sunday to define the focus of next month's congressional elections.

Rahm Emanuel, a White House strategist who has been with Mr. Clinton since the 1992 campaign, told CBS News Chief Washintgton Correspondent Bob Schieffer on Sunday's 'Face The Nation' that the vote will be a referendum on the congressional record rather than on Mr. Clinton's conduct.

"I think that the people will look at this election and see it as a referendum on a congress that decided to investigate rather than legislate," he said.

"I think people will judge this election and their members of congress about both what they did over the last two years and what they didn't do, and also about the needs that they think have to get met,"

Emanuel, who was about to depart the Clinton administration, cited a lack of progress on a patient's bill of rights and the death of the tobacco bill as evidence of a single-issue Congress that was preoccupied with a partisan investigation Mr. Clinton.

Republicans on Sunday sought to define the campaign as a vote on pocketbook issues.

House Majority Leader Richard Armey said on the Fox News Sunday program that the Republican Congress would push for a tax cut in 1999, and that it is ready to "run over" the President in order to get one.

Tax-cut intentions were echoed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who charged Mr. Clinton with hampering Congress' efforts to boldly cut taxes to stimulate consumer spending as other sectors of the U.S. economy weaken.

"We couldn't get a tax reduction for the American people even though we realized that we're going into trying economic times," Hatch said on Fox News Sunday. "A tax reduction would have done a lot of good."

A CBS poll conducted last week said three-quarters of respondents could not remember a single thing Congress had accomplished over its last term.

©1998 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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