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PRESIDENT LOST REINS ON AGENDA, HIS POLLSTER SAYS

President Clinton's pollster says the administration "lost control of its agenda" on economic issues.

Addressing a national conference of poll takers, Stanley Greenberg linked Clinton's sliding job approval ratings to "a lot of things that were done wrong" since Clinton proposed higher taxes in a speech on Feb. 17.

"The difficulty was that the president, after his speech, said there was not sufficient spending cuts in his own proposal, invited anyone to find more, in effect challenged the Republicans to find more," Greenberg said Friday.

"And the entire discussion for three months has centered on the question, 'Are there enough spending cuts in Bill Clinton's economic program?' I'm not faulting the press or some other set of actors for that. The Clinton administration has lost control of its agenda."

Greenberg, whose polling company helped Clinton set and sell his agenda for the start of his presidential campaign, shared a podium with Bush-Quayle campaign pollster Fred Steeper. The audience at the American Association for Public Opinion Research conference included many leading survey experts from universities, the government and the media.

Greenberg, who works out of the White House, meets regularly with Clinton and daily with his top political advisers. In contrast, Steeper portrayed the Bush White House as a dispassionate consumer of polls, leaving their timing and content to the Republican National Committee.

Both said they polled in depth on issues, rather than getting what Steeper called "quickie overnight" reactions to events -- information that was available free from the media's polls.

Steeper said the Bush White House never asked for private poll figures before major decisions on involvement in the Persian Gulf. Greenberg said the Clinton White House has not polled on Bosnia.

Both pollsters indicated they had done a great deal of research on public reaction to tax increases.

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