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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dole Dishes Dirt Before Final Debate

SAN DIEGO, California -- Republican candidate Bob Dole on Tuesday warmed up for the final presidential debate with a fierce attack on President Bill Clinton's ethical standards, but the president dismissed the onslaught as "just politics."


With opinion polls showing he risks a big defeat in the Nov. 5 election, Dole has apparently decided he has little to lose by going after Clinton in the 90-minute "town hall meeting" Wednesday in San Diego, when the two candidates will answer questions from an audience of some 150 undecided voters.


"No administration has been more self-righteous," Dole told a business group luncheon. "But few administrations have been more self-serving. No administration has shown more arrogance. But few have displayed more ethical failures," Dole told the San Diego Electronic Industrial Association luncheon.


"A gap between their swagger and their public scandals. A gap between what the presidency itself has been, and what it has lately and sadly become," he said.


Clinton spent the day practicing for the debate at a retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico, obviously rehearsing his responses to the anticipated Dole onslaught.


Emerging to take some reporters' questions, Clinton gave a foretaste of what his response is likely to be in San Diego.


"Senator Dole takes the position that if it's good, I didn't have anything to do with it, and if it's bad, I must have stayed up all night planning it," he said. "That's just politics."


Asked about Dole's attacks on his ethics, Clinton said: "He's been doing a lot of that, and I'll have a chance to answer that at the appropriate time. ... My view is this country is better off than it was four years ago, and we have worked hard to make it so. And we've worked hard by concentrating on ideas and issues, not insults."


A late-breaking flurry of charges about questionable financial contributions to the Democratic Party and the Clinton administration by Asian businessmen has provided the Dole camp with new ammunition to fire at the president.


There were some signs that Dole's sharply negative attacks are not working, according to the latest Reuters daily tracking poll, which showed Clinton lengthening his lead above 15 percentage points.


It was the eighth consecutive day the president had extended his advantage.


?Former Iran-contra prosecutor Lawrence Walsh accused Bob Dole of "hypocrisy'' in trying to use the pardon issue against President Clinton in the Whitewater affair.


Releasing two chapters of his forthcoming book, Walsh said Dole successfully "urged pardons for crimes of constitutional dimension'' in the Iran-contra scandal in 1992.


President Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger less than two weeks before he was to go on trial for allegedly lying about his knowledge of the Reagan White House's secret arms sales to Iran.


"Senator Dole's demand that President Clinton forego future pardons connected with Whitewater gives the voters a remarkable view of Dole's hypocrisy,'' said Walsh, who described himself as a lifelong Republican. ()