| CLINTON'S SECOND TERM:|
January 15, 1997
December 23, 1996: A NewsHour panel of historians looks at historical second terms.
December 20, 1996: President Clinton announces the new cabinet members who will join him for his second term.
December 6, 1996: Perspective on foreign policy and second term presidents comes from a panel of historians.
Edward L. Bryant of Memphis, TN, asks:|
In light of the January Atlantic Monthly article, "Running Scared," what are journalists looking at as the issues that may impact the Democrats' ability to remain in office at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
William Neikirk, Chicago Tribune White House correspondent responds:
Several issues come to mind. The economy is chugging along now, though not spectacularly, but if the business cycle returns at the wrong time for Gore, it could doom him. If Alan Greepsan's fears of a severe stock market correction come true, it could be harmful, too.
Robert Rubin is Wall Street's lapdog in Washington. Many Americans have their retirement savings locked up in the market. Investigations, scandals and ethics are likely to be in the mix. Gore, remember, attended a Buddhist fund-raiser where money-laundering apparently took place. If there are indictments of Clinton or the first lady, it will be harmful to the Democratic nominee. Tax reform may be ripe for a presidential campaign at last. This is just a guess, and I may be going out on a limb, but I can't at the moment see either Gore or the Republicans allowing Social Security or Medicare to be an issue in the campaign.
I think Gore would like to get this out of the way early. The health-care issue will not go away. Clinton will continue to push for incremental reforms during his presidency, while the GOP resists. I have a suspicion that the Clintons will make a big thing of abuses in the managed-care revolution. We will have to see how the budget is balanced, but the GOP may not want to get burned on this one again. Gore will push education, the environment and worker training, among others. In many people's minds, the big issue will be: Is Gore too dull in this media age?
Jonathan Peterson, Los Angeles Times White House Correspondent responds:
Both Clinton and Gore want very much to identify with the future, and with policies perceived as preparing the nation for a world of tough economic competition, new technologies and grave disadvantages for those lacking education.
Clinton will continue to describe his policies as ways to contend with these forces. As 2000 draws nearer, Gore will become increasingly visible with a similar message. Topics like reinventing government in a way that it remains important but becomes leaner and more effective, and the global importance of the environment are especially important to Gore -- though they play a role in the politics and thinking of both men.
Two potential threats to Gore and the Democrats in 2000 are a sinking economy and a scandal-ridden administration. Of course, both scenarios are only conjecture.
Jim Kuhnhenn, Kansas City Star Washington Bureau Chief responds:
This is a fascinating question because it goes to the heart of what Clinton will do during the next four years. Second term presidencies are notoriously weaker than the first. So here's Clinton, wanting to leave a major legacy with his bridge to you know where and he's got: 1.) history against him; 2.) a Republican Congress against him; and 3.) a vice president that doesn't want him to do anything too bold that might backfire.
In many respects, the issues that would help Al Gore in 2000 are thee same ones that would help Republicans in 1998 and 2000. The conventional interpretation of the '96 election is that voters wanted both sides to work together but did not want a one party monopoly.
So, we can look for a budget that ostensibly puts the nation's finances in balance by 2002. We can look for agreement on short-term fixes for Medicare. And both sides will try to agree on campaign finance reform and some minor tax relief.
The one issue that Democrats and Gore in particular might challenge Republicans on is the environment. It is one of Gore's strongest topics and the '96 elections showed that it is the Republican's Achilles' heel.
Some also have suggested that just like it took a military man such as Eisenhower to confront the military-industrial complex and an avowed anti-communist such as Nixon to open the door to China, it might take a baby boomer to help fix Social Security and Medicare.