President Clinton stepped back into the intensifying abortion battle Saturday, accusing the "extreme right wing" of torpedoing surgeon general nominee Dr. Henry Foster Jr. and pushing legislation that would roll back abortion rights.
Appearing in Foster's hometown of Pine Bluff, Ark., to renew his attack for a fourth consecutive day, Clinton said anti-abortion groups will stop at nothing to get their way.
He cited as examples a House vote last week on legislation to keep military women from receiving abortions at overseas military hospitals, and an upcoming House vote on a bill that would cut off use of federal funds for abortion in cases of rape and incest.
"The extreme right wing in our country wants to impose its views on all the rest of Americans," Clinton said in his regular weekly radio address, broadcast live from the Pine Bluff Convention Center, where he shared the stage with Foster.
Anti-abortion groups killed the Foster nomination "with the help of the Republican leadership, who did as they were told," the president said. "And they're just getting started."
The combative remarks are another sign that Clinton, who has given the divisive issue varying degrees of emphasis, intends to make abortion rights a central political theme.
Another signal of that strategy is Clinton's expected decision to give Foster an administration job campaigning against teen pregnancy _ a move that would provide a continuing reminder of the nomination fight and its abortion-rights subtext.
Polls indicate that Clinton's position resonates with many of the swing voters he needs to win re-election, as well as with Democratic Party loyalists. His advocacy of abortion rights has special appeal to women.
The issue splits the Republican Party, and some GOP leaders have uncomfortably acknowledged that they would prefer that it have a less prominent role.