Student Defends Lewinsky Query To Chelsea

Chelsea Clinton speaks to a crowd at the West Side Democratic Club during a campaign stop for her mother Hillary Rodham Clinton Monday March 24, 2008 in South Bend, Ind.
AP Photo/Joe Raymond
The college student who got a stinging brushback from Chelsea Clinton when he asked about the Monica Lewinsky scandal said Wednesday on CBS News' The Early Show that he's a Clinton supporter who was trying to get her to show "what makes Hillary so strong."

Evan Strange, a Butler University student, said he had asked Chelsea Clinton her opinion "on the criticism of her mother that how she handled the Lewinsky scandal might be a sign of weakness and she might not be a strong enough candidate to be president."

It wasn't clear what aspect of the former first lady's actions he was referring to. Before she was fully aware of President Bill Clinton's relationship with Lewinsky, Hillary Rodham Clinton said allegations about her husband and the White House intern were manufactured by a "vast right-wing conspiracy."

Strange's question at Chelsea Clinton's appearance Tuesday at the school brought a stinging rebuke from Clinton's daughter. "Wow, you're the first person actually that's ever asked me that question in the, I don't know maybe, 70 college campuses I've now been to, and I do not think that is any of your business," Chelsea Clinton said during the campaign visit for her mother.

"I'm a supporter of Hillary. I love Hillary," Strange told Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith. He said he asked the question because his friends "always bring up that scandal. It's not something I asked to cause trouble but to show those people what makes Hillary so strong."

He said that by brushing him off, Chelsea Clinton missed an opportunity to show her mother's strength.

"I was very surprised" at the rebuke, Strange said. "I can see where she'd get a little defensive because of the question and hearing Lewinsky over and over again, but I would like to hear her say something about Hillary rather than dismissing the question."

Sally Quinn of The Washington Post said on The Early Show that Chelsea Clinton must have been prepared for a question on the Lewinsky scandal.

"I think what happened yesterday is Bill Clinton's legacy, and it's really is heartbreaking that his daughter - at this age almost 30 - is going to be confronted with this question for the rest of her life," she said.