Poll: Majority Says Gingrich Loan 'Inappropriate'
Most also think Reno should have appointed fund-raising counsel
By Keating Holland/CNN
WASHINGTON (April 18) -- A majority of Americans think it was inappropriate for House Speaker Newt Gingrich to pay his $300,000 penalty by taking a loan from Bob Dole, according to a new CNN/TIME poll.
Only 43 percent say it was appropriate for the Georgia Republican to borrow the money from Dole. The public is more closely split over whether it was appropriate for Dole to offer the loan to Gingrich. Forty-five percent say it was appropriate for Dole to do so; 48 percent say it was not.
The poll of 508 adult Americans was conducted April 17. It has a margin of error of +/-4.5 percentage points.
Currently, only 28 percent of the public approves of the way Gingrich is handling his job as speaker of the House. That's his lowest approval rating to date, and represents a 5-point drop since early January. It's not clear from the poll whether this was due in any way to the announcement of the loan from Dole.
Gingrich has had quite a come-down since his first 100 days as speaker. In April 1995, 58 percent said he should remain as speaker. Today, 58 percent want him replaced by another Republican; only a third want to see him remain in charge of the House. One reason is that only a third say he is honest and trustworthy enough to be speaker.
Another poll conducted April 16-17 suggests that most Americans think Attorney General Janet Reno should have appointed an independent counsel to investigate the campaign fund-raising activities of members of the Clinton Administration, although only 37 percent strongly feel that way.
More than half, 51 percent, say that Reno decided against appointing an independent counsel mostly to protect Clinton; only a third say she came to that decision mostly based on the facts in the matter. The poll of 1,040 Americans had a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.
Through it all, Clinton's approval rating has remained virtually unchanged. It now stands at 56 percent, slightly higher than the 52 percent Ronald Reagan scored in April of his second term in 1985. Clinton's approval rating is down from his Inaugural high of 62 percent, but that is to be expected as the "second honeymoon" fades. More telling is that he has not lost any support since mid-March, when he approval rating was at 57 percent.
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