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ONE POLL FINDS INCREASE IN APPROVAL RATING

The country and its Congress agreed: President Clinton's videotaped testimony offered no compelling new reasons for people to turn against the president.

Polls taken just after the testimony's telecast showed support for the president increasing slightly, with two surveys showing more than 60 percent of Americans approving of Clinton's job performance.

Congressional opinion, meanwhile, appeared to hold steady. Many Republicans repeated their calls for an impeachment inquiry, and many Democrats lashed out at the GOP for trying to exploit Clinton's troubles.

In wake of the telecast, a Gallup poll conducted for CNN and USA Today showed that 66 percent of respondents still approved of the job Clinton is doing. That's six points higher than the figure Sunday, the day before the broadcast.

About 64 percent rejected impeachment, but 39 percent thought Clinton should resign, the poll showed. USA Today said 81 percent of respondents believed Clinton definitely or probably lied under oath to the grand jury.

In an NBC News poll, only 28 percent of respondents believed the president was telling the truth, but 57 percent did not believe the president should resign.

An ABC News poll showed that 70 percent believed Clinton was right to refuse to talk about the sexual details of his relationship with former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky, and 59 percent thought prosecutors were wrong to ask detailed, explicit questions.

The ABC poll showed Clinton's job approval holding steady at about 60 percent.

In other words, then, the telecast didn't exactly cause an earthquake in public opinion.

"I think that people who were expecting fireworks were considerably let down," said Rep. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which will decide whether to recommend impeachment hearings. "Clearly, the tape will be of more evidentiary value than entertainment value."

"Based on the expectations built up by both sides, the broadcast failed to register on the Richter scale," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., agreed.

"When we look back on the 10 most important dates and events in this situation, this will not be among them," Torricelli said in an interview on Cable News Network. "There was no startling new information. The president's demeanor was proper."

Clinton delivered stern but polite answers to many of the prosecutors' questions -- and firmly evaded repeated requests for salacious details of his affair with Ms. Lewinsky.

The president's performance seemed to engender some sympathy in Western New York.

A week ago, callers to local congressional offices overwhelmingly suggested Clinton should resign or be impeached.

But Monday, "it flipped," said Chet Lunner, a spokesman for Rep. Amo Houghton, R-Corning.

About 50 of the 80 people who called Houghton's offices said they were against the release of the tapes.

Similarly, at the Buffalo office of Rep. Jack F. Quinn Jr., R-Hamburg, 92 of the 118 callers opposed release of the tape.

And about 100 people called the offices of Rep. John J. LaFalce, D-Town of Tonawanda.

"Calls are running 3-to-1 in favor of the president," LaFalce said. "People think what he did was wrong, but they're saying: enough is enough -- no more of this stuff on TV."

Congressional aides warned that a handful of the calls seemed scripted -- as if some pro-Clinton organization had set up a phone tree to congressional offices to support the president.

While the public reacted to Clinton's testimony, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said today Clinton should come to Capitol Hill to answer questions, but questioned whether that would change anything.

"Any time the president comes forward and comes clean in a formal setting, . . . it would probably be a positive development," Lott said. The problem, he said, is what happens after that.

And Clinton's former adversary, GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole, said the president would like to put a quick end to the controversy.

"Obviously, the president's reaching out, he'd like to find some way to end this," Dole told an MSNBC phone-in program. Dole said he had heard that the White House was planning some dramatic gesture, but he gave no details. He predicted that Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr's charges on Clinton would have to work their way through the congressional procedures.

Former New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo said the public doesn't want those procedures to end in impeachment.

"There's no denying the wrong he did," Cuomo said on CNN. "He knows that; he confessed to that. But there's also no doubt about this president's incredible record of achievement. That's what the polls are all about."

He added: "I wouldn't trust him with my sister, but I trust him running the country. He's good at it."

Cuomo was one of the few prominent New York politicians to offer any reaction to Clinton's testimony and the accompanying tomes of evidence released by the House Judiciary Committee.

LaFalce spent Monday filming campaign ads in Erie and Orleans counties and didn't see the testimony. He said he planned to watch it in the next few days.

Spokesmen for Quinn and Houghton said they thought any comment would be be improper. The state's two U.S. senators also refused comment, and a spokesman for Rep. Bill Paxon, R-Amherst, refused to answer a request for comment.

Nationwide, reaction to Monday's release cut in predictable ways.

Clinton's harshest critics said the tape showed a president hiding from the truth.

"After viewing this videotape, no reasonable person could conclude that the president did not knowingly lie to the grand jury and to the court in the underlying lawsuit," said Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., who was the first member of Congress to call for Clinton's impeachment.

"This is a clear case of perjury," added Barr, a Judiciary Committee member.

While House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., reserved judgment on whether the House should begin an impeachment inquiry, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, lambasted the president.

"President Clinton's testimony redefined the role of the Artful Dodger," Armey said. "The president debated the meaning of simple words like 'is' and 'alone.' Does that mean we have to question the wording of every future statement he makes?"

Partisan Democrats, meanwhile, took heart in the president's measured yet vague answers to questions posed by Starr's prosecutors.

"There was a lot less there than I really expected, to tell you the truth," Dee Dee Myers, Clinton's former press secretary, told CNN. "He gave more benign answers than I expected."

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said the videotape "shows that the Republican leadership and Ken Starr have one thing in common: an unhealthy preoccupation with the irrelevant, unnecessary disclosure of salacious and lurid details of sex calculated only to politically embarrass the president."

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, was one of the few Democrats to offer a devastating review of Clinton's behavior.

"I'm coming around to the belief that there's something deeper here, that the president maybe has something wrong with him in terms of how he approaches this," Harkin said in an interview with a Des Moines television station. "I don't know whether it's an illness or something like that, but I don't know how else to explain what he did."

Further explanations, or at least further details, could surface if the Judiciary Committee decides to release additional evidence from the materials Starr presented to Congress in the Lewinsky matter.

The panel has until Monday to decide whether to make that evidence public. Then it will have to make a recommendation to the House on whether to begin a full impeachment inquiry.

News wire services contributed to this report.

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