In Oxford, Rhodes Lead to Clinton
OXFORD, England (AP) _ When some of America’s best and brightest watch the final U.S. presidential debate on British television Monday night, they expect President Bush to again brand Bill Clinton ″unpatriotic″ for his dissident days as a Rhodes scholar.
But at Oxford, almost all of the current crop of American Rhodes scholars say Clinton is their man.
″I hear so much gossip about Clinton and his time here at Oxford, it just reminds me to get my absentee ballot,″ said Lisette Nieves, 24, of Brooklyn. Clinton’s involvement in two anti-Vietnam war protests while a philosophy student at Oxford have provided some of Bush’s nastiest campaign barbs.
At a house dubbed ″Little America″ by the seven Rhodies who share it, a trio of academic stars struggled without success to set their videocassette recorder: With the debate starting at 2 a.m. Tuesday local time (9 p.m. Monday EDT), they decided it wasn’t worth losing sleep over.
All seven said they would vote for Clinton, including two who cast ballots for Bush last time.
Carl Marci, 23, from Allentown, Pa., comes from a Republican-leaning family but supports the Democratic candidate.
″Bush says time and time again that it’s unpatriotic to protest on foreign soil,″ Marci said. ″But if you’re morally opposed to a war like Vietnam, then you’re obliged to protest.″
Bush has castigated Clinton’s involvement in the London protests in previous debates and other forums, including a speech before a veterans group last month:
″Gov. Clinton is already talking about pulling together the ‘best and the brightest’ - ... all those guys, liberal guys that were hanging out with him in Oxford when some of you were over there fighting - and have them solve America’s problems,″ the president said.
Bob Esther, 23, from Frontenac, Mo., called his two years at Oxford studying Anglo-American history ″as close to adventure as education gets.″ He sees Clinton, who came to Oxford at age 22 to study philosophy, as a better prospect to lead America for having spent throughful time outside the country.
″It’s a bizarre concept trying to turn Oxford into the ‘liberal’ of the ’92 campaign,″ Esther said, referring to Bush’s successful campaign to tar liberalism in his 1988 race.
As a Rhodes scholar, Clinton joined a select group of future opinion- makers, among them his chief economic adviser, Harvard professor Robert Reich, and his director of communications, George Stephanopoulos.
His Rhodes contemporaries included Frank Keefe, a longtime adviser to Michael Dukakis.
Keefe described a Rhodes contingent in which ″everyone fancied themselves as a potential president.″
″But people understood that Bill had a clearer path towards that goal,″ Keefe said.