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Gergen on Republicans

November 15, 1994

If I may, I would like to enter a correction to a story printed in The Times on Nov. 9.

Late in the day on Nov. 8, after the White House officially accepted a resignation letter I had submitted the previous week, a wire story mistakenly reported that my letter had attacked Republicans for unrelenting partisanship. The story caught up with me several hours later in Seoul, Korea, where I was traveling with Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Upon hearing from me, the reporter filed an amended story showing that I had not criticized the GOP; indeed, my only mention of Republicans was in observing that I had "proudly served" three Republican presidents before joining the Clinton Administration. Unfortunately the amended story reached The Times too late for publication, and the erroneous story appeared.

To set the record straight, I have said on several occasions including a recent speech at the Reagan Library, that bipartisanship has flourished more than once in Washington of late. Republicans deserve far more praise than they have received for providing the decisive margin of victory for passage of the NAFTA treaty.

At the same time, there have been many, many other times when bipartisanship has given way to poisonous rancor. Both parties--not to mention special-interest groups as well as the press--bear responsibility for the way our politics has degenerated. As someone who has been in government as well as the press, I share in that responsibility.

The recent elections provide an opportunity to turn a page. President Clinton has offered to work with Republicans in a constructive spirit; Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) have made similar offers from their side. Of course tough fights lie ahead because the philosophical differences are deep and real. But each of these gentlemen cares about the country's fate, so that on vital issues, it should be possible to reach common ground. Ultimately, that common ground can be higher ground.

DAVID R. GERGEN

Special Adviser to the President

and the Secretary of State

Washington

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