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USA: BOB DOLE ACCUSES BILL CLINTON OF SCANDALS ALMOST ON A DAILY BASIS

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USA: BOB DOLE ACCUSES BILL CLINTON OF SCANDALS ALMOST ON A DAILY BASIS
English/Nat       

Determined to revive his White House hopes, an aggressive Bob Dole accused President Bill Clinton in Wednesday night's second and final televised debate of presiding over an administration with \"scandals almost on a daily basis.\"

With just 20 days left to turn around the polls, the Republican challenger criticised the Democratic incumbent at every turn. 

On issue after issue, Dole painted his opponent as an unprincipled liberal who was hiding behind election-year conservative rhetoric.

But Clinton, comfortably ahead in the latest polls, was restrained in his responses and two quick network polls taken after the debate indicated he came off best.

Entering the arena for their second and final national televised debate of the presidential contest, Bob Dole and President Clinton cordially shook hands as they prepared to square off.

As expected, Republican nominee Dole lashed out at Clinton's ethics, credibility and performance in a  90-minute contest at California's San Diego University that shaped up as Dole's last chance to stop Clinton's re-election bandwagon.

Dole's main thrust was to paint Clinton as an untrustworthy high-taxing liberal with a blind eye to staff scandals in the White House.

Urged to hit Clinton on ethical issues where Republicans think him vulnerable, Dole lunged to the attack over reports Clinton might be considering a presidential pardon for former business associates convicted of fraud in his native state of Arkansas in the Whitewater affair.

SOUNDBITE:
\"So it seems to me that there's also a public trust and when you're the President of the United States you have a public trust and you have to keep that public trust, as George Washington, as Abraham Lincoln did. And I think now that that trust is being violated, and it seems to me that we ought to face up to it and the President ought to say tonight he's not going to pardon anybody he was involved in business with who might implicate him later on.\"
SUPER CAPTION: Bob Dole, Republican Presidential Candidate

The debate questions were all posed by a panel of 113 undecided voters gathered by random polling in a university theatre in this Pacific Coast seaport.

They provoked sharp disputes on questions of interest to average voters -- such as welfare reform, illegal immigration problems and affirmative action equal-rights policies.

Inevitably the question of whether at 73 Bob Dole was too old to become President cropped up which gave Clinton a chance to get in an upper cut. 

SOUNDBITE:
\"I can only tell you I don't think Senator Dole might be too old to be president. It's the age of the ideas that I question.\"
SUPER CAPTION: President Bill Clinton

Dole insisted there was widespread economic unease among working people and he pledged to cut through obstacles to economic progress.

SOUNDBITE:
\"You say you're unemployed? The first I'd do is get you a job, and that's the economic package you'll get, create jobs and opportunities, reduce the capital gains rate, reduce regulatory reform, stop some of this senseless litigation and let people work in America, I think that's the thrust we will make, obviously social security is a very important programme, it'll be preserved.\"
SUPER CAPTION: Bob Dole, Republican Presidential Candidate

Commenting on the successes of his four years in office, Clinton pointed out that exports to Japan had risen sharply.

SOUNDBITE:
SUPER CAPTION: President Bill Clinton

Dole said many Americans had lost faith in government because \"they see ethical scandals in the White House today.\"

He referred specifically to the collection of FBI files by Clinton White House security aides in the president's first year in office, 

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