By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau
COLUMBUS — Bob Dole thinks his 1996 opponent will survive the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but he wants Congress to follow the procedures outlined in the Constitution to decide President Clinton’s future.
“I think you let the process work,” the unsuccessful Republican presidential candidate said yesterday. “You don’t overturn the results of an election easily.”
Mr. Dole was in Columbus to speak at a fund-raiser for Attorney General Betty Montgomery. Ms. Montgomery, a Republican and former Wood County prosecutor, is running for re-election against Democrat Richard Cordray.
But, not too surprisingly, questions for Mr. Dole focused less on Ms. Montgomery than on the melange of sex, lies, and audiotape that has transfixed the country in recent weeks.
“I know you’re going to ask me a lot of questions about Betty’s record,” he jokingly told re porters, showing the sense of humor he has put on display since his loss to Mr. Clinton.
He pointed out that his apartment in Washington’s Watergate building, No. 112, is next door to Ms. Lewinsky’s No. 114.
“I live in an exciting neighborhood,” he said. “Every 25 years, something exciting happens. Maybe in the next 25 years, Strom Thurmond will move in,” he said, referring to the 95-year-old senator from South Carolina.
When asked a hypothetical question about Mr. Clinton leaving office, Mr. Dole said, “I don’t think that’s going to happen. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
But Mr. Dole noted that with foreign policy crises looming in places such as Kosovo and Russia, it is important that the President be able to concentrate on the affairs of state.
“It’s a period of time that cries out for strong leadership,” he said. “When the President speaks, are people going to listen?”