President Clinton on Saturday expressed a strong desire to sign a bill overhauling welfare this year and hinted broadly that he might accept a version close to that passed by the Senate last week. But he also warned that he could not support another "extremist bill" like ones he has twice vetoed.
"To those who have doubts about any welfare reform, I say we will never lift children out of poverty and dependency by preserving a failed system that keeps them there," Clinton said in a recorded radio message that he chose not to make but instead to make a live statement about the Olympic bombing.
"And to those who would undo the progress of recent weeks by sending me another extremist bill like the ones I vetoed, I would say we can only transform this broken system if we do right by our children and put people to work so they can earn a paycheck, not draw a welfare check. That's the only kind of welfare reform I can sign."
Clinton has gone out of his way to avoid saying precisely what would prompt him to veto the latest House and Senate bills, which are being blended by negotiators, for fear that Republicans would load the bill with provisions.
Yet in carefully nuanced comments, he took pains to praise the Senate bill, saying "it does provide health care and child care, and took some important steps to protect our children." But, he added, "we still have more work to do to promote work and protect children."
WASHINGTON _ President Clinton will spend the week of the Republican Convention next month heeding the call of the Grand Tetons, returning with his family to Jackson, Wyo.
The Clintons will stay in the home of Max Chapman, the head of the American branch of Nomura Securities, the Japanese investment giant.
The Clintons are to head to Jackson on Aug. 9.