WASHINGTON - The ranking Democrat on a Senate committee investigating campaign fund raising said Sunday he won't object if his colleagues ask President Clinton to respond to written questions, since the president has turned down the committee's invitation to testify.
Questioned on NBC's Meet the Press, Sen. John Glenn said: "I don't have any quarrel with sending written questions or submitting whatever kind of testimony they want over there at the White House. That's up to the president."
Glenn's comment came as Sen. Fred Thompson, chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, said he has "received word that the president is going to decline our invitation" to appear.
"My staff told me that a letter was received," Thompson said on CBS's Face the Nation. "I am disappointed" but will not press for the president to appear, Thompson said.
Thompson also said that "we have reason to believe" that Vice President Al Gore also would decline any invitation to testify. Gore will not be invited, Thompson said, despite questions raised about his fund-raising activities as well.
The invitation for Clinton to testify arose last week when defeated Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole said he wants to respond to "statements questioning my activities as a candidate and some that cast doubt on my integrity."
In a letter Friday to Clinton, Thompson said, "I am extending to you an invitation to join Senator Dole in his appearance."
A poll conducted for Fox News of 902 registered voters showed that 68% thought Clinton should testify, a figure statistically unchanged from July when 70% thought so. Both times the poll was taken, 24% said Clinton should not testify. The rest were uncertain. The poll has a margin of error of three percentage points.
Thompson and Glenn, senior senators on the investigating panel, expressed their frustration with the course of the probe but had sharply divergent views on the cause of the problems.
The hearings have been "largely an opportunity lost, " Glenn said.
"If we're just to continue with trying to see how much blood we can let out of Democrats and how much we can wound Democrats and not make it bipartisan, I'm for ending it as quick as we can end this thing," Glenn said. "I think we had the opportunity to make this bipartisan" and "clean up the whole system."
Thompson cited as the committee's main dilemma "foot-dragging, slow-walking" by the White House in responding to demands for information. The White House says any delays were inadvertent and due largely to the huge volume of information demanded.
Thompson said the only way he would agree to extend the investigation past the Dec. 31 cutoff date would be to remove deadlines altogether. That idea, he said, "would be very difficult" to get through the Senate.
By The Associated Press
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