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President To Take Questions Online

November 4, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton admits he has two left thumbs when it comes to using a computer, but is enthusiastic about the vast opportunities the Internet and related computer technology can bring.

``The fact that I’m technologically challenged has become legendary in our administration,″ Clinton said during a speech on education last month.

On Monday, he makes what amounts to his online debut, when he headlines a computer chat with Internet users worldwide.

Although several recent White House events have featured satellite and Internet hookups along with a traditional audience, the event will be Clinton’s most extensive online participation, White House spokesman Jake Siewert said.

``He’s generally very excited about the possibilities technology offers to bring what happens in Washington to the rest of the country,″ Siewert said Wednesday. ``This is another opportunity to use technology to get more people involved in politics.″

Organizers of the Democratic-themed event liken it to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Depression-era fireside chats, which were addresses to the nation broadcast over the then-new technology of radio.

To make things easier for Clinton, his part of the 90-minute discussion will be videotaped and then ``Webcast″ over the Internet computer network. Participants can watch the event live on their computers and submit typed questions as the president talks.

``Anybody who is on the Web can interact with the president,″ said Matthew Frankel, spokesman for the sponsoring Democratic Leadership Council.

The Internet firm ExciteAtHome is handling the technical aspects of the forum, which also includes other Democratic politicians, including New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

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EDITOR’S NOTE _ The Clinton event is scheduled to being at 7 p.m. EST Monday. The Internet address is http://townhallmeeting.excite.com.

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