ON the road again.... That's where you'll find President Clinton whenever he gets himself in trouble in Washington. Thus yesterday and today the president has been making campaign-like appearances in California and New Mexico that, White House aides hope, will refocus Mr. Clinton, the news media, and the public on the economy - which they say is the administration's top priority.
Yesterday afternoon, Clinton planned to talk about defense conversion after a tour of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M. Then it was off to Coronado, Calif., for a town meeting. Job training and his prescription for big-city ills are on tap today for California audiences. The president promotes his job-training plans in Van Nuys, Calif., where he will tour a machine shop and talk to employees. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown will be with Clinton. The president also is scheduled to vis it South Central Los Angeles today to support mayoral candidate Mike Woo, a Los Angeles councilman.
Behind the campaigning is the fact that Clinton has had a hard time sustaining support for his deficit-reduction package. Overshadowing his efforts are the troubles in Bosnia, the demise of his jobs bill in the Senate, and complaints from Republicans that the White House budget proposal doesn't cut spending enough. Support for Clinton's economic package and his job performance have slipped sharply in polls over the past few weeks. The clarity thing
It seems to be an occupational hazard of being president. Once upon a time Bill Clinton was renowned for speaking in complete sentences, with actual subjects, verbs, and objects. But the longer he stays in the White House, the more fractured his syntax becomes. In other words, the more he sounds like George Bush.
Last week, for example, the president told a suburban Chicago high school: "Look, I've lived most of my life. Unless I beat the odds and live to be 94, I've lived half my life - or 92. I can't even add anymore. I've lived more than half my life unless I live to be 92 years old."
He also told a crowd at Cleveland's Galleria shopping mall: "Would it be nice if you could pay your bills and not earn any money to pay them? I don't understand this whole - you can't do one thing at once. But anyway, that's what they say."