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ONLY 25% THINK FIRST LADY SPEAKS TRUTH, POLL SAYS

SHARE ONLY 25% THINK FIRST LADY SPEAKS TRUTH, POLL SAYS

Only 25 percent of Americans think Hillary Rodham Clinton is telling the whole truth about Whitewater, according to an Associated Press poll taken after she testified before a grand jury.

Twice as many Americans, 52 percent, believe the first lady is hiding something, and most of those people are not brushing it off as trivial, the poll found. The distrust is hurting Hillary Clinton's image, and only four in 10 hold a favorable opinion of her.At the same time, a substantial minority is withholding judgment. And Americans are split almost evenly on the potential political impact of the first lady's legal situation, with 43 percent seeing a serious, long-term effect on President Clinton's future, and 47 percent expecting no such effect.

The poll of 1,017 randomly selected adults was taken by phone last Friday night through Wednesday. Hillary Clinton had just gone to a federal courthouse to answer the Whitewater prosecutor's questions about last month's mysterious appearance at the White House of her long-sought legal billing records.

The grand jury subpoena of a first lady was unprecedented, and there was no way for the public to know what was said in the secret session. Nearly three in 10 were left unable to rate their opinion of the first lady.

The opinions of the rest are: 17 percent very favorable, 22 percent somewhat favorable, 15 percent somewhat unfavorable and 17 percent very unfavorable.

Hillary Clinton's ratings are more positive among women than among men, and she also did better with older Americans, registered voters and, of course, Democrats. But even stronger than party affiliation as a predictor of her rating is whether people believe she is telling the truth about Whitewater or related matters.

Of those who say she is hiding something, 47 percent consider it very important for investigators to learn about, and an additional 27 percent say it's somewhat important.

Results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points in the poll by ICR Survey Research Group of Media, Pa., part of AUS Consultants.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Subpoena ahead?

An Arkansas lawyer asked a federal judge Thursday to subpoena President Clinton, saying his testimony is needed to ensure a fair trial for one of Clinton's Whitewater partners, Susan McDougal. The president is needed to refute the testimony of David Hale, who is expected to be a star prosecution witness in the case, lawyer Bobby McDaniel said.