Clinton Clings to Support

PRESIDENT Clinton is trying. He is working hard. He should be given more time before any hard judgments can be made on whether he is succeeding. These are the most favorable comments one hears about Mr. Clinton.

But while some people are showing patience with the man in the White House, apparently more are unhappy with the president.

These impressions, coming from the many people I've talked to while on a three-week trip by car into the Middle West and West, pretty much jibe with what the pollsters have been saying. Polls indicate that, if a vote were held, Clinton would do no better than the 43 percent he got last November, and maybe worse.

I'd guess that while a good many who voted for Clinton would be less than enchanted with him today, they would still be behind him, probably urging patience. It seems that women, particularly younger to middle-aged women, are showing the most loyalty and support for Clinton. They like his appointments, and they seem to find him personable and very persuasive.

Perhaps the most significant impression I have picked up on this trip is that, while some people may be annoyed with the president, there's no widely-held, deep-seated anger among the populace. But this popular ire could be coming. For example, an Indiana service-station owner volunteered that when gasoline prices go up in October ``the president is going to be in trouble.''

``But it will be only a few cents,'' I said.

He replied, ``When they pay they'll be saying something like, `Here's my money and that includes what I've got to give to Clinton.' They'll be very upset.''

This could happen, but my guess is that the new taxes Clinton was responsible for putting into place aren't going to ruffle the general public too much. Many senior citizens are vexed over the increased taxes they are going to have to pay, but most people feel they have escaped heavy taxation and aren't too sad over the thought that the wealthy will bear most of this burden.

Blacks and hispanics were represented on several of the programs I watched or listened in on. Some were randomly interviewed; others were leaders. They weren't entirely happy with Clinton - but they were sticking with him. There's no evidence of the sound and fury that could threaten his presidency. It appears that the president still is in possession of that all-important commodity: TIME. The people may be restless, but they're not close to rejecting him.

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