Clinton's 'Hunker-Down' Strategy Holds
President sidesteps most things Lewinsky at news conference with U.K.'s Blair
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 6) -- Under a new onslaught of Monica Lewinsky questions, President Bill Clinton, showing a couple flashes of humor, held firm Friday to his strategy of avoiding specific comments about the sex-and-perjury allegations while Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr's inquiry goes on. (512K wav sound)
Only once did Clinton go beyond the public comments he has already uttered, when a reporter asked if the accusations were so painful, would the president just decide it wasn't worth it and resign?
"Never," said Clinton, pausing. "You know, I was elected to do a job.
"I think the American people know two or three things about me
now that they didn't know the first time this kind of effort was
made against me. (352K wav sound)
"They -- I think they know that I care very much about them, that I care about ordinary people whose voices
aren't often heard here," Clinton said. "And I think they know I have worked
very, very hard for them. And I think they know now, more often
than not, the ideas I had and the things I fought for turned out
to be right in terms of the consequences for the American
people. I think they know all that.
"And I'm just going to keep showing up for work. I'm going to
do what I was hired to do. And I'm going to try to keep getting
good results for them," he said. (608K wav sound)
"The pain threshold, at least for our side, being in public
life today has been raised," Clinton added. "But to give into that would be to give into everything that I fought against and got me into this
race in 1991 to try to run for president in the first place."
After weathering past firestorms over Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones, Clinton, the political pro, didn't appear on the defensive about the Lewinsky matter at all.
He was mostly serious but occasionally light-hearted during the 43-minute session with Blair, which also focused on possible military action against Iraq.
At one point, Clinton stared down CNN's Wolf Blitzer after Blitzer suggested that Monica Lewinsky's life had changed forever and wondered what Clinton would say to the former White House intern if he had a chance.
"That's good," Clinton said, to the press corps' laughter. "That's good, but at this minute I'm going to stick with my position of not commenting."
Clinton also opted not to comment on wife Hillary's assertion that her husband is a victim of a "vast right-wing conspiracy." (224K wav sound)
For all his troubles, Clinton did get some warm words of support from Blair, who noted he has worked with Clinton for nine months as British prime minister. (576K wav sound)
"I have found him throughout someone I could trust, someone I could rely upon, someone I am proud to call not just a colleague, but a friend," Blair told the press. "And in the end, you either decide in politics ... when you are asked about people, you are going to say how you actually
feel, or you're going to make a whole series of calculations. And my belief is that the right thing to say is what you feel." (544K wav sound)