McCurry Takes Up Battle By Terence Hunt
AP White House Correspondent
Wednesday, April 29, 1998; 12:31 p.m. EDT WASHINGTON (AP) -- Intensifying a war of words with Republicans, White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry suggested today that House Speaker Newt Gingrich needs to come "back to his senses."
Gingrich told reporters that House Republicans would continue to pursue their investigation into alleged fundraising violations by Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign, despite Democratic objections. ``This is about law breaking. This is not about sex. This is not about gossip. This is not about soap operas,'' he said.
The sharp exchanges represent an escalation of partisan rhetoric with the administration clashing with Republican leaders over tobacco legislation, child care, abortion restrictions and education, among other issues.
Clinton said Tuesday he would not ``waste my time'' responding to Gingrich. Press secretary Mike McCurry nonetheless took up the battle on Clinton's behalf.
Noting that Gingrich runs the House, McCurry said today, ``We're going to have to do business with him sooner or later. And as soon as he comes back to his senses, we'll do business. He's the one that indicates that he's going to go off on this tirade. So we'll let him go.''
McCurry said that ``sooner or later'' Gingrich will ``probably be reminded by the American people that they expect work to get done on their behalf. And he'll get on with doing work.''
Gingrich spoke with reporters at about the same time.
He said congressional Democrats were attempting to thwart the GOP investigation by refusing to approve immunity for four witnesses, and accused Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the senior Democrat on the investigative panel, of functioning as ``the defense lawyer for the White House.''
Clinton, under investigation by Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr on a variety of fronts, has adopted the public position that he is too busy focusing on the people's business to be distracted by his own problems.
Gingrich attacked the president Monday night in an address to GOPAC, the Republican political action group that the speaker once led.
Gingrich lashed the administration for its attacks on Starr.
Administration leaders and their allies have portrayed Starr as an extremist engaged in a political vendetta against the president.
Gingrich said Clinton could dismiss Starr at any time since it is the president's attorney general who oversees Starr's authority.
``If he doesn't want to fire Ken Starr, he should tell his staff to shut up,'' Gingrich said. ``I am sickened by how unpatriotically they undermine the Constitution of the United States on behalf of their client.''
He said that henceforth, ``I will never again, as long as I am speaker, make a speech without commenting on this topic.''
Gingrich said there were two principles ``which I am prepared to live and die on. The first is that the American people have the right to know about basic facts. And the second is that we are a nation under the rule of law and no person, including the president, is above the law.''
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press
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