Whitewater Hearings Offer Morsels on Clinton's Role

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DEMOCRATS are dismissing congressional hearings into Whitewater as a boring partisan exercise, but Republicans say they've set the stage for interrogating White House aides who handled damage control for President Clinton.

No startling revelations emerged Tuesday about the sole topic of the opening day of hearings - the contacts between senior White House aides and banking regulators with knowledge of the investigation into Mr. Clinton's former land venture in Arkansas.

But testimony by White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler demonstrated how the case has grown. The public, for instance, only learned last February of a single contact between the White House and regulators. Mr. Cutler testified he now knows of more than 30 such contacts. Health care poll

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ALTHOUGH just a third of Americans favor President Clinton's health care plan, his commitment to universal coverage retains widespread support, according to a recent Associated Press poll.

Seventy-four percent favor giving all Americans health insurance that covers all medically necessary care. Support for universal coverage is even higher among women, blacks, people born in the 1940s, and those from lower middle-class families. The poll was taken after Clinton's suggestion - later disavowed - that health reform might cover only 95 percent of Americans. In the poll, 36 percent deem this an acceptable way to limit costs; 58 percent say it's unacceptable.

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