Clintons Plan Weekend Television Response To Tabloid Accounts
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Clinton and his wife plan to appear on television’s ″60 Minutes″ on Sunday to respond to a tabloid account of alleged infidelity, advisers said Friday.
The Arkansas governor spent the day in Little Rock, conferring with advisers and close friends about how to put the controversy to rest before it derails his presidential campaign.
CBS News said the couple would talk about their marriage in a special edition of ″60 Minutes″ scheduled to air immediately after the Super Bowl.
″Bill and Hillary want and welcome the opportunity to say in a forthright and open way what they have to say,″ said Clinton campaign manager David Wilhelm.
The governor has adamantly denied the allegations of an Arkansas woman who said she had a 12-year affair with Clinton. The allegations by Gennifer Flowers came in a paid interview with the Star, a supermarket tabloid.
Star editor Dick Kaplan said Flowers had an exclusive contract with the Star and would discuss her story at a news conference on Tuesday.
Clinton has denied any relationship with Flowers. He did so again Friday in conversations with supporters and fund-raisers, but also acknowledged past ″indiscretions″ in his marriage, according to two sources familiar with the conversations. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Clinton told the supporters he was confident he could put the controversy to rest through the appearance on ″60 Minutes″ and other weekend events.
Before he entered the presidential race, Clinton tried to put behind him repeated but unsubstantiated rumors of infidelity. He and his wife last fall met with national reporters and acknowledged their marriage had gone through rocky periods.
On Thursday night, in an interview with The Washington Post, Clinton said:
″I am the only person I am aware of to ever run for president to come before the press and the American people with my wife to say that we were really proud our marriage was still together because it had had problems, I hadn’t been perfect, we had difficulties ... and we worked through it.″
Advisers and friends have told Clinton he needs to appear with his wife to underscore that point.
″Right now this is just a bump in the road that has interrupted the rhythm of his campaign,″ said former Democratic Party chairman John White, a Clinton supporter. ″He has to confront it head on.″
By having Clinton acknowledge on national TV that his marriage has had a rocky past, the campaign hopes to put an end to ″have you ever″ questions about extramarital affairs. In a recent television interview, Clinton was asked the question and replied: ″If I had I wouldn’t tell you.″
Some advisers don’t believe that answer is sufficient to quell the controversy dogging the Clinton campaign.
″We’re going to tackle these untrue allegations head on and get this campaign back on its message, back on track fighting for the middle class,″ said Clinton strategist Paul Begala.
Aides acknowledge that Clinton’s campaign could be damaged if he cannot put the issue behind him swiftly.
″Our problem is that the story is running despite the lack of credibility,″ Wilhelm said. ″How long do you allow that to go unanswered? You’ve got to answer it. But in answering it, do you give accusations that are groundless greater currency? That’s the quandary.″