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Anderson, S.C.; A Southern City Leans to Conservatism -- and Impeachment

Impeachment Hearings

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  • By Lois Romano
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, December 10, 1998; Page A34

    ANDERSON, S.C.—Richard Shirley, the nonpartisan mayor of this small city, is anything but ambivalent about impeachment proceedings against President Clinton. He is not tired of hearing about it, he says. And he makes it clear that his views differ from the national polls showing that most Americans do not want to see the president removed from office.

    "I would almost volunteer to march up Main Street naked if this man makes it to the finish line," said Shirley, 44, in an interview. "He lied. . . . The process has to move forward. We are where we are. There is no shortcut."

    While up to two-thirds of the American public seems to want the Clinton scandal to vanish, in this rural, conservative pocket of America many agree with Shirley's passionate view that the impeachment proceedings should go forward.

    "Our leaders shouldn't be able to break laws and get away with it," said Forrest Vickery, 63, a retired salesman, over breakfast at a local hangout. "We can't put a time limit on this or be influenced by polls. . . . If someone was charged with murder, we wouldn't conduct a poll to determine whether he should be tried."

    This fast-growing manufacturing district in northwestern South Carolina is represented by Rep. Lindsey Graham, who as a member of the Judiciary Committee was for months a Republican voice of reason, vowing to weigh all the facts. The second-term legislator now is indicating that he believes the president committed perjury, which suggests that Graham will vote in favor of impeachment this week. And this suits many in his district just fine.

    At The Meeting Place, a bustling breakfast spot, many patrons leaned toward impeachment, no matter how long it takes. Most were knowledgeable about the case and some had even studied the president's responses to the 81 questions posed by the Judiciary Committee.

    Charles Welborn Jr., a lawyer, said he feels "conflicted" about the scandal, but nonetheless believes the president committed impeachable offenses. "I feel betrayed," said Welborn, 47, who voted for Clinton. "If I was in Lindsey's place, I would vote to impeach."

    At Clemson University, professor Bill Havice believes Clinton, whom he supported, should resign.

    "I believed Clinton would take the country in the right direction," said Havice, 43. "I now find myself wondering what a Bob Dole presidency would have been like."

    This is not to say that there are not those here who would like to see a quick end to the inquiry. The Anderson Independent-Mail, the district's largest newspaper, takes the position that Graham needs to be more focused on local issues. "Most people here would not like Clinton to be in office," said Paul Hyde, editorial page editor. "But many do feel that the process has gone on too long. . . . The district is by no means monolithic."

    Back at the The Meeting Place, Susan Stuart and Lynn Ducworth-Franzen are among those who want the inquiry to end but do not believe Clinton should escape without sanctions.

    "This might have started out as a quest for the truth, but it's now partisan posturing," said Ducworth-Franzen, 45, who voted for Clinton. "What I am most angry about is that Clinton has managed to live up to the rumors about him. That's a shame."

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