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CLINTON REFORM BILL IS DEAD, GINGRICH SAYS

The campaign-finance reform bill President Clinton insists that Congress consider is dead in the Republican-controlled House, according to Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The Georgia Republican said Thursday that the legislation sponsored by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Russell D. Feingold, D-Wis., "is the wrong model and goes in the wrong direction."

"This already is a failed system," Gingrich said. "You cannot bureaucratize power."

Gingrich said that the House will vote on campaign-finance reform this year but that the bills most likely to pass include ones to bar aliens from voting, curtail soft money, lift limits on contributions and require daily reporting of political gifts on the Internet.

Another Republican bill Gingrich said he likes is based on a new law in Washington state requiring union members to vote before their dues money can be used in a campaign.

Clinton said Tuesday that he will require Congress to vote on McCain-Feingold before they adjourn for the year.

In a surprise move, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., opened debate today on a version of McCain-Feingold. Votes on the bill are not expected until early October, however.

But Gingrich told a briefing of political writers that the bill "can't pass" the House.

"If it would work, why are we having all these investigations into the presidential campaign?" he asked. "We have a presidential campaign model which supposedly was (based on) McCain-Feingold.

"We had money-laundering on a grand scale. Illegality and illegitimacy infected the process. Maybe all this effort to amend the First Amendment doesn't work," he said.

He cast doubts on the legitimacy of Clinton's own election, asking "what America would be like" if the Clinton administration had not repeatedly broadcast anti-Republican ads, targeting him, which were paid for by "laundered" labor-union contributions.

Gingrich also said Teamsters President Ron Carey should resign immediately. Three key Carey aides were convicted of illegally raising money to promote Carey's hotly contested election. Carey claimed ignorance, saying his lieutenants "betrayed" him.

Gingrich, who has made himself relatively scarce since he survived a coup attempt over the summer, served notice that he's back -- calling for massive income-tax cuts, reductions in the national debt and increased spending on infrastructure. He said he does not plan to serve as speaker after 2002 but left the door open to a presidential bid.

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