Clinton: 'Don't blame Gore for my failings'

Click to follow
The Independent US

Two years after his humiliating acknowledgement of an "inappropriate" relationship with Monica Lewinsky, President Bill Clinton said he felt "more at peace" than he used to and was trying to rebuild his life "from a terrible mistake". He also made a new effort to stress the integrity of Vice-President Al Gore, insisting that he could in no way be held responsible for the President's moral lapses.

Two years after his humiliating acknowledgement of an "inappropriate" relationship with Monica Lewinsky, President Bill Clinton said he felt "more at peace" than he used to and was trying to rebuild his life "from a terrible mistake". He also made a new effort to stress the integrity of Vice-President Al Gore, insisting that he could in no way be held responsible for the President's moral lapses.

The United States President was answering questions in what was described as a "no-holds barred" interview in front of a 4,000-strong audience at a church near Chicago. The occasion was the leadership summit organised by the Willow Creek Community Church, and the interview - with senior pastor, Bill Hybels - was beamed by satellite to 16 other centres across the country.

However, the interview also came just four days before the start of the Democratic Party's national convention in Los Angeles, where Mr Gore will be formally nominated as the party's candidate for the White House. And speculation has been rife for weeks that Mr Clinton might use his farewell speech to the party on Monday to offer a new apology for the Lewinsky affair in the hope of cleaning the slate for Mr Gore.

Opinion polls have repeatedly shown an element of "Clinton fatigue" in the reluctance of some voters to support Mr Gore's presidential bid, with suburban electors in particular blaming him for remaining loyal to Mr Clinton through the Lewinsky affair. The decision of the Republicans to make "integrity and decency" a theme of their convention last week was another sign of Mr Gore's vulnerability on this score.

White House officials said they had no knowledge of any plans for Mr Clinton to make a new apology at the convention.

Yesterday's interview, however, may have been a way of keeping the apology out of that speech. In words that were a response of a kind to the Republican accusations, Mr Clinton said: "It's always a work in progress. I had to come to terms with a lot of things, the fundamental importance of character and integrity." And in defence of Mr Gore, he added: "Surely no fair-minded person would blame him for any mistake that I made.'

Comments