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Back Home As Congressional Fight Nears, Clinton Takes Break

The flooded soybean field where President Clinton found himself at dawn Tuesday is a long way from the White House, but the president said he had something in common with the ducks he was hunting.

Hunting regulations, he explained, prohibit shooting sitting ducks because they make such easy targets.

“I identify with those little ducks out there,” he said after stopping for lunch on the middle day of his threeday vacation in his home state. “I wish we had the same rules in Washington.”

The remark was one of the few references he made to his job. Pressed about dealing with a Republican-led Congress when he returns to Washington today, he said, “I’m looking forward to it. I just don’t want to talk about it until tomorrow.”

But he did want to talk about just about everything else, and proceeded to engage in an unusual hourlong discourse with reporters at Cotham Mercantile, a combination general store and restaurant that is a “must” stop for Arkansas politicians. Whatever the topic - golfing in the rain, bass fishing, vintage Mustangs - Clinton enthusiastically shared his views.

Why so relaxed, someone asked?

“I worked like a dog the first two years,” Clinton said. “I worked every night, every weekend. I need to do more of this.

“You need to keep your batteries charged, your roots watered.”

Clinton used a 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun, which he hastened to point out was not affected by the crime bill’s provisions banning some assaultstyle weapons.

“Contrary to what people heard in the last election, we’re still hunting and nobody’s lost their guns,” he lectured.

After the three-hour hunt on Robinson’s farm near Cotton Plant, Ark., Clinton declined a reporter’s invitation to blow his duck call for the cameras and the microphones, but gave pointers when the journalist somewhat feebly used another call.

He disappeared into the house, but was back in a minute, joking that the reporter’s call was so realistic that his buddies were grabbing their shotguns and coming out to shoot. Then Clinton gave a long, two-toned toot on his call and dashed back inside.

There, Robinson’s wife, Carmen, served eggs, bacon, sausage and homemade biscuits.

If the food and fellowship weren’t enough to make him feel at home, the stereo in the corner would have helped. The record on the turntable was “Elvis Sings the World of Christmas.”

Clinton also visited the grave of his mother, Virginia Kelley, outside Hope, the town where the president was born.

Clinton spent about 10 minutes alone at the grave of Kelley, who died of cancer Jan. 6, 1994.