RNC, DNC Square Off In Law School Debate

The Hatfields and McCoys of American politics were civil yesterday afternoon as the chairs of the Democratic and Republican National Committees debated each other at the Law School (HLS).

Steve Grossman, Democrat, and Jim Nicholson, Republican, answered scripted questions from the leaders of the HLS Republicans and Democrats before about 100 students.

Hosted by the Law School Forum, Grossman and Nicholson, generally reserved, sparred over broad issues on which the parties disagree most strongly: taxes, campaign finance reform, affirmative action and Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr.

The debate was calm and civil throughout, although both speakers were firm in their convictions.

When the topic shifted to Starr's investigation of President Clinton, the speakers' different loyalties were in full view.


"Kenneth Starr has much more interest in getting the president than getting the truth," said Grossman, whose wife was appointed by Clinton to serve on the National Council on the Arts.

Nicholson had a different take, however.

"Ken Starr has more indictments, and more convictions while spending less money [than his predecessors]," said Nicholson.

"This President invoked executive privilege six times over...why would he do this if he didn't have anything to hide?" Nicholson asked.

"I don't know anyone who has refused to cooperate with legal proceedings," Grossman replied.

In his closing remarks, Nicholson called fellow Republicans to arms against legislation allowing partial abortions, which he condemned as a "heinous procedure."

For his part, Grossman said Nicholson's stand on abortion reflected the fact that the Republicans were marked "not by a gender gap but a gender canyon."

Grossman closed his remarks by urging Americans who have "lost touch" with grassroots activism to get back into politics.

"I consider myself first and foremost agrassroots activist," Grossman said.

However, Daniel R. Schorr, a third-year studentat HLS and president of the HLS Republicans, saidGrossman dodged his question on diversity inhigher education.

Schorr asked Grossman, a Harvard BusinessSchool (HBS) alumni, if he would have been willingto give up his place in HBS for a member of anethnic minority.

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