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UTAH’S GOP DELEGATION SAYS PRESIDENT IS ONLY APING REPUBLICAN STANDS.

SHARE UTAH’S GOP DELEGATION SAYS PRESIDENT IS ONLY APING REPUBLICAN STANDS.

Utah's Republicans in Congress say President Clinton's new call for middle-class tax cuts makes him sound like a Republican - and they question whether his views are sincere.

"It's a great case of me-tooism," said Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah. "It's like the lizard that changes colors. I'm not so sure he's saying what he feels as much as what sells."Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, added about Clinton's speech Thursday night, "It was a speech that could have been given by any Republican president . . . It didn't sound like the Bill Clinton I've known for the past two years."

The Republicans said Clinton was mimicking GOP stands on tax breaks and other items in their "Contract With America" because of heavy Democratic losses in elections last month - but they welcomed him aboard, as long as his positions are sincere and not just talk.

"I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, and hope his change of heart is sincere," said Rep.-elect Enid Waldholtz, R-Utah. "I'm encouraged that perhaps we can find some common ground. Middle-class tax relief is something I ran on, and something most Republicans ran on."

Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, said, "I'm delighted about areas we agree on . . .. But President Clinton showed a much different tone than he took in the recent campaign when he attacked tax relief for the middle class as irresponsible."

The Republicans also questioned some details of Clinton's proposals - such as giving tax breaks only for families with children younger than 13.

"Anyone who has teenagers knows those are the most expensive years," Hatch said. "He also ignored families who care for elderly parents."

Bennett said the tax changes Clinton proposes would make an already complicated system even more complex. "I hope he would look at some fundamental reform that would make it easier to understand and still accomplish what he wants to do."

Members also praised Clinton's call for cutting government to pay for cuts - but said Republicans thought of that first, too. "In a meeting of our conference, we agreed that we are going to make cuts in spending first to pay for tax relief. I won't vote for tax relief that isn't paid for," Waldholtz said.

They added that they hope the administration and the newly GOP-controlled Congress can find ways of working together without trying to compete about who thought of what idea first.

"I sincerely hope the Republican Party will do what it thinks is best for America, and not try to upstage the president," Hansen said.

Utah's Democrats in Congress were unavailable for comment after Clinton's speech. Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, is on a belated honeymoon. Recently defeated Rep. Karen Shepherd, D-Utah, was driving a moving van with her belongings from Washington, D.C., back to Utah.