Almost Half of Americans Fear Corruption if Clintons Return to White House, Poll Finds

By Fred Lucas | July 7, 2008 | 8:32 PM EDT

( - More than six years after the Clintons left the White House, nearly half of the respondents in a new poll -- 45 percent -- worry that if they return, they could bring "high levels of corruption" with them.

A Zogby International poll released Thursday in Washington highlights in particular concerns about former President Bill Clinton's ability to "behave honestly in the White House" if his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), is elected president in 2008.

The poll results indicate that scandals which dogged the Clinton administration remain relevant to a significant number of voters.

The 45 percent figure would likely be even higher, said Tom Fitton, president of conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, if elected officials and the media were more willing to ask tough questions about numerous ethical quandaries that surrounded the Clinton administration and the then-first lady's role in those issues.

"It's because the media doesn't want to talk about it and the American leaders won't talk about it," Fitton said. "The fact that no-one is talking about it and people are still concerned speaks volumes."

Judicial Watch sponsored the poll.

Forty-two percent of respondents also said they view Sen. Clinton as corrupt. Of those, 17 percent regard her as "very corrupt."

The New York senator is leading the pack among Democratic candidates for president in most polls. She announced this week that she had shattered previous fundraising records - though just slightly above her top primary rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

The Clintons weathered numerous investigations into alleged criminal conduct and ethical lapses during the Clinton presidency, and in some of them Hillary Clinton was suspected to have played a major role.

Fitton pointed out that these include: the Whitewater probe, in which independent counsel Robert Fiske said she was not truthful to a federal grand jury but did not believe he could obtain an indictment from a Washington D.C. jury; the firings in the White House travel office; and smears against women from her husband's past through the hiring of private investigators during the 1992 campaign to curb what became known as "bimbo eruptions."

These are all questions Sen. Clinton should answer, Fitton said. He added that every other candidate should also answer questions about their own past ethical lapses.

"Some are old issues in the sense that they took place several years ago," Fitton said. "But they're new issues in the sense that they don't have answers."

Perhaps the best news for Bill Clinton from the new poll was its finding that 50 percent believe he would behave honestly in the White House. Thirty-six percent of respondents felt otherwise, while the remaining 14 percent was undecided on the issue.

On a broader question, 93 percent of respondents said they believe corruption is still a significant problem in Washington, and 78 percent think bigger government leads to bigger corruption.

More to come.

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