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Voters Doubt Clinton’s Integrity, But Don’t Care About His Past

April 1, 1992

Undated (AP) _ Americans are wrestling with whether Bill Clinton has been treated fairly in his presidential bid, but many say they’re still not sure they could trust him to do the right thing as chief executive.

″He just seems too much like a made-up candidate. ... I think he’s been mostly honest, but begrudgingly honest. It’s like you have to drag it out of him,″ said Scott Wooters, 33, a sheriff’s deputy in Cedar, Mich.

A sampling of voters around the country echo the findings of public opinion polls showing people have doubts about Clinton’s character.

As voters left their booths in last week’s Connecticut primary, 46 percent of Democrats told pollsters they were satisfied as to Clinton’s character, and 48 percent said they were not.

But only a minority in various polls said they were swayed by specific allegations. Just 19 percent of Democratic voters in five Southern states said the military draft issue made their opinion of the Arkansas governor less favorable, and a third of them voted for him anyway.

Clinton has been buffeted by allegations about his Vietnam-era draft status, his marital fidelity and his recent admission that he tried marijuana while a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

Democrats in the random sampling said largely they would trust Clinton. Most independents and a slight majority of Republicans said they would not.

Linda Thurlow, 45, an unemployed resident of Traverse City, Mich., calls herself an independent. She said she doesn’t think Clinton is ″better than any of the others,″ but added: ″I have a hard time when they bring up all that trash about people. What does it matter what he did 20 years ago?″

Sandy Brantley, 48, a clerk with the Atlanta police department, said she plans to vote for Bush. Of Clinton, she said, ″He’s had an affair; he’s just a human being. I like Clinton. I like his wife. I think she should be running for president.″

″I just don’t care about his private life,″ said Joan Duquette, 49, a nurse’s aide in Franklin, N.H., who plans to vote for Clinton.

Tim Dow, 24, a police officer in Franklin who also supports the Arkansas governor, said, ″Clinton’s getting the shaft with some of the stuff that’s coming out. I don’t like the heat he’s taking.″

Samuel J. Fowler, 63, of Williamstown, Mich., a real estate appraiser and registered Republican, said he would have ″a little apprehension″ about whether Clinton is trustworthy. But he added, ″Accusations don’t bother me much. ... Everybody’s done a few things in college they’re not proud of.″

Others were less tolerant.

″He started off with skeletons in his closet, so I wonder what the future holds,″ said Jan Kuras, 53, a Traverse City credit manager who is a Republican.

John Cronin, an elderly Chicago building security employee and independent, said: ″There’s something very sneaky about him. I just wouldn’t trust him.″ Of all the candidates, he said, Brown is ″the only one who looks like a president.″

Wooters, the Michigan sheriff’s deputy, said: ″I like the way (Clinton) stood up to Jerry Brown in the debate when he criticized his wife.″

Norman Avila, 41, a San Antonio, Texas, artist-musician and former remedial reading teacher - and a Democrat - said Clinton has been the target of ″tabloid-type journalism.″

″They dig up any little thing,″ he said. ″You have to be a saint in order to go in there.″

″In Clinton’s case,″ said Avila, ″I just believe that he is fresh air. He has definite ideas about things.″

President Bush did better. Most said they considered the president trustworthy, even if they didn’t think he was doing a particularly good job.

And those who were familiar enough with Brown to comment said they would trust him.


EDITOR’S NOTE - The following AP reporters contributed to this report: John Flesher in Traverse City, Mich.; Debra Hale in Chicago; Marc Rice in Atlanta; Nancy Roberts in Concord, N.H.; and Kelly Shannon in San Antonio.

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