Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., said Wednesday that he had been contemplating calling for the censure of President Clinton. But, he said, Erskine Bowles, the White House chief of staff, called him on Monday and implored him to hold off making any comment at least until the president had returned from his trip to Russia and Ireland.
Congressional aides said other Democrats, including Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., the minority leader, were so worried that Lieberman would go to the Senate floor and call for censure that they also intervened on Monday to stop their colleague."I was thinking about censure but was not ready to go to the floor, and I'm still not," Lieberman said in an interview, adding that Daschle urged him to consider the consequences of what he was going to say.
Sen. Joseph Biden, of Delaware, another leading Democrat, said Clinton's further public comments Wednesday and last Friday about Monica Lewinsky were starting to clear the air, "slowly."
Sens. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Bob Graham of Florida, both Democrats and both seeking re-election, disagreed. They said the brief, repeated statements were not working - and that the president must do something more.
In the inner caucuses of the Democrats, the angst is deepening and the added remarks from Clinton last week from Massachusetts and Wednesday from Moscow do not seem to be calming the waters. If the president cannot turn to his own party for support, he could find it particularly difficult to exert influence on legislation, build support for his own initiatives, or mute critics calling for his resignation or impeachment. Democratic lawmakers also face their own perils, with elections approaching in November.
Even so, many party leaders and candidates said they did not see any great political value at this point in Clinton delivering a nationwide address or sitting down for a major interview to make up for his initial performance two weeks ago.