Delegation from Maryland unfazed by Morris story Not much impact on voters expected; members are confident about lead; DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION; CAMPAIGN 1996


CHICAGO -- Maryland Democrats refused to let the sensational story of a Clinton aide's dramatic resignation dim their optimism.

One delegate said the story about campaign aide Dick Morris and a prostitute sharing White House inside information was just about par for the political course.

"I've been expecting something like this," said Karl K. Pence, president of the Maryland State Teachers Association.

"The president was having too good a week. They weren't going to let that go on."

No one interviewed for this story expected much impact.

The public is inured to such stories and immediately discounts them, said Delegate Kumar Barve of Montgomery County.

People will recognize that Morris was a "mercenary," said Greg Pecoraro, Maryland's newest member of the Democratic National Committee.

If the Morris story was used to raise new questions about President Clinton's character, he said, the same questions will have to be raised about all the Republicans -- Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, for example -- Morris has worked for, they said.

Republicans were the culprits, said Mary Jo Neville, the party's vice chairwoman, who called the story's release "pretty desperate."

"If they could run against us on the issues, they would. What the Republicans have done to Medicare and Medicaid is a more important statement of character," she said.

Sen. Decatur W. Trotter of Prince George's County said he thought the story would do little to influence voters.

"The momentum has been set," he said -- people know who they like for the most part already.

Pecoraro said he did not even think the story would change what he expects will be a civilized campaign.

Though they have taken their shots at Dole throughout the week, he said, Democrats have sought to establish themselves as the party of issue-oriented campaign discourse.

That is likely to continue as long as Clinton maintains his current lead, Pecoraro said, confident that the lead would be unaffected by yesterday's story.

Pub Date: 8/30/96

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