'It's All A Joke'

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On the floor of the Staples Center, they're shaking their heads.

"This is just amazing," said Democratic delegate Anne Mini, 33, from Seattle, as she read the news that another grand jury had been called to investigate President Clinton's tryst with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. "It makes me angry, it really does. Rather than come up with new approaches to issues, the Republicans keep bringing up the same old tired scandals, which never had merit in the first place."

Thursday afternoon, as convention speakers from across the country warmed up for Al Gore, who is accepting his party's presidential nomination, the news that Monica had resurfaced was slowly filtering through the Staples Center.

"It's all a joke," said John DeFazio, 59, a delegate from Pennsylvania.

DeFazio, president of the Allegheny County Council, added, "We're here to judge Al Gore. He should be judged on his merits. And he helped put this country in shape. This election should be a no-brainer."

Others wondered about the timing of the news leak.

"Isn't it funny how it's breaking today? How cute," said Nancy Barnes, 44, of Juno, Alaska. Barnes, part of a group called Native Americans for Al Gore, was another voice in an almost universal shaking of the head.

"For Pete's sake," Barnes said. "The Republicans, whoever is doing this, needs to get a life. It has nothing to do with Al Gore."

Others saw the move on the part of the independent counsel as wasteful.

"It's been investigated and re-investigated," said Sidney Gilreath, 62, of Knoxville, Tenn.

Gilreath, a trial lawyer, added, "So, what's new? What are they investigating now? Whitewater? Monica Lewinsky? What's the new grand jury going to uncover? I just don't think the public wants to waste any more money paying another grand jury."

Some of the delegates expressed more amusement than anger.

"I'd rather not even give it life. I don't think about it," said Ron Clinton, 28, who runs a charity in Brooklyn, N.Y. "Maybe it's a good campaign strategy for the Republicans to focus on a mistake that was made, I don't know."