Tennesseans Rate Clinton Bad Guy, But Good President (339)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– Most Tennesseans think President Clinton is not to be trusted but still say he is doing a good job as president, a University of Tennessee survey shows.

The fall Tennessee Poll, conducted by UT-Knoxville’s Social Science Research Institute, found 45 percent of Tennesseans do not like Bill Clinton as a person. Only 36 percent think he’s a good man and 19 percent are undecided.

Sixty-five percent believe Clinton asked others to lie about the Monica Lewinsky scandal and only 23 percent feel he did not; 58 percent say the president cannot be trusted, versus a third who think he is trustworthy.

Despite the unfavorable personal ratings, 57 percent think Clinton is doing a good job as president. Only 38 percent disagree.

“Although most Tennesseans think Clinton is doing all right as President, they don’t hold him in high regard personally,” said Dr. Michael Gant, a UT-Knoxville political science professor and institute director. “Tennesseans do not view President Clinton as trustworthy regardless of the situation, whether concerning the Lewinsky scandal or in general.

“Most think Clinton did ask people to lie for him, despite his assertions to the contrary. They simply feel that he cannot be trusted to be truthful.”

Tennesseans rate Independent Prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s job performance lower than the president’s. Fifty-four percent are not pleased with Starr’s work while 36 percent approve. Forty-five percent hold an unfavorable opinion of Starr as a person and 25 percent favorable. Thirty percent were undecided.

The poll included telephone interviews of 741 adults conducted Oct. 4-13. The ratings are split sharply along political party lines, with Democrats rating Clinton higher than Republicans, Gant said.

The survey also shows:

— Forty-four percent of Tennesseans think Congress is doing a good job; 41 percent disapprove.

— About half (52 percent) say the Lewinsky scandal is Clinton’s fault but 24 percent blame his political enemies; 10 percent blame both and 6 percent say it’s the media.

— Thirty-seven percent do not want the president punished; 29 percent think he should resign; 18 percent prefer censuring; and 12 percent call for impeachment proceedings.

Among state registered voters, just over two-thirds said the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal will not affect their future voting decisions.

Contact: Dr. Michael Gant (423-974-2819)