In a biting indictment of his rival's foreign policy, Republican Bob Dole derided President Clinton's team of "would-be statesmen" Tuesday and laid blame for the communist resurgence in Russia at the president's feet.
The GOP presidential challenger, in a speech to the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, accused Clinton of naively romanticizing U.S.-Russian relations. Dole said that since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Clinton had turned a blind eye toward Russian violations of arms-control agreements and toward indications that communist forces were building anew."By remaining passive in the face of these and other troubling developments, President Clinton has given a green light to the most dangerous tendencies in the new Russia," Dole told area business and community leaders.
In his second major foreign policy speech of the campaign, Dole sought to draw sharper contrasts with Clinton, saying, "There is a difference, there are distinctions."
But, as in his May speech on Asia policy, Dole's remarks Tuesday on Central and Eastern Europe indicated basic agreement with Clinton on certain policies. Dole took issue mostly with the pace, degree and consistency of Clinton initiatives.
Vice President Al Gore, responding for Clinton, accused Dole of being nostalgic for the Cold War past and misguided on his facts. But Gore said Dole basically agrees with Clinton on every major foreign policy issue except building a missile defense system.
"He just wants to substitute bluster for substance and skate over the facts of the situation on the ground," Gore said.
"When you wade through the Cold War rhetoric and filter out the obvious nostalgia for the era of direct confrontation between the United States and the former Soviet Union, Senator Dole . . . endorses the policies of President Clinton on NATO expansion and Russian-NATO relations; and we appreciate that," Gore said.
But one former Clinton administration official was poised to endorse Dole primarily for his foreign-policy stances. The candidate's aides said former CIA director James Woolsey would endorse Dole at a meeting Wednesday.