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Applause Ends Questions to Clinton

February 11, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ An audience of business leaders thwarted media questions about President Clinton’s relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky by turning up the volume and intensity of their applause for the president.

``I’ll take their questions, go ahead,″ President Clinton said after reporters attempted to question him while the White House audience was applauding. As questions were asked, the applause increased noticeably and continued until Clinton had left the room.

Afterwards, participants said they had not been coached by the White House to drown out questions and suggested the response was spontaneous. Reporters questioned Clinton both on the Lewinsky matter and on the situation in Iraq.

Dan Stuermer of Lancaster Laboratories said the swell of applause was ``absolutely″ intended to keep questions from being heard. ``But I’m not part of the right-wing conspiracy,″ he added.

Clinton presented the Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership to IBM and Levi Strauss for their efforts in improving employee and community relations. IBM was recognized for its workforce diversity initiatives. The award was given to Levi Strauss for its anti-racism program, Project Change.

``The millions around the world and here at home with a pair of Levis and an IBM computer are as American as baseball and apple pie,″ Clinton said. ``I had a pair of Levis on last night. I don’t wear my computer.″

The Ron Brown Award was named in honor of the former Secretary of Commerce who was killed in a plane crash in Croatia in 1996.

``Ron Brown was one of the most visionary, optimistic, confident people I ever met in my life,″ Clinton said. ``He believed and helped more and more Americans to understand that being pro-business and pro-worker and in favor of workers’ families not only did not have to be mutually exclusive but ... can never be mutually exclusive again.″

While the award was encouraged by the Clinton administration just over a year ago, it is privately financed and administered. Honorable mentions included Bright Horizons of Cambridge, Mass.; Lancaster Laboratories of Lancaster, Pa.; and Public Service Electric and Gas of Newark, N.J.

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