Bob Dole takes care to assure audiences that he is not on "an `I told you so' tour." But there is at least a mild sense of vindication in the air.
Publishing and political calendars have aligned to give the former Senate majority leader a heavy speaking schedule at the moment that his opponent of two years ago, President Clinton, is caught in the worst political crisis in a generation."Let's have one more shot at it - go out and run one more time, both of us, in January," Dole told his audience Wednesday at a book-signing here. He admits that Clinton is not likely to accept the challenge. "I haven't ordered any buttons."
Charging into his scandal patter, he noted that his apartment at the Watergate is just a few doors from that of Monica Lewinsky. "I walk by very fast," he said, to applause.
All the questions about the president leave Dole little time to plug his new book of political humor or the Republican candidates he is appearing with, but he seems to be relishing the spotlight's return.Wednesday, he was signing books at the Westin Hotel, where 300 customers of Just Books, in Greenwich, Conn., paid $26 each for a plate of tandoori chicken and a question-and-answer session with Dole.
Dole, 75, had tough words for both parties' behavior since the delivery of the report from Kenneth Starr, the Whitewater independent counsel. "I want to say to my Republican colleagues: Don't try to overplay your hand. Don't try to outsmart yourselves," Dole said. "I think they're losing the American people."
Later, he said of White House officials, "If you're ever going to broker something, you're going to have to get these attack dogs to back off the airwaves. They have to back away from that strategy."
In the sharpest of several jabs at Clinton, Dole complained about accusations that Republicans are dragging out the response to Starr's findings. "Remember who kept us from dealing with it earlier," Dole said. "It's President Clinton."