Romer Acknowledges Extramarital Relationship

By Judy Woodruff/CNN romer

WASHINGTON (Feb. 6) -- Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Roy Romer came forward to acknowledge a 16-year extramarital relationship in an extraordinary news conference today.

But the Colorado governor says it is a relationship that did not involve sex.

"In the course of this marriage, about 16 years ago, I began to work with a person who became a very close professional colleague and a very good personal friend, " Romer said.

That friend is Betty Jane Thornberry, a longtime aide who followed Romer from Colorado to the DNC in Washington.

The right-leaning magazine Insight has published photos of the two embracing and kissing.

Romer denied rumors of an affair while campaigning in 1990 and again in 1994, all the while championing his small-town roots and family values.

Today, Romer addressed the apparent contradiction.

"I was asked, did I have an affair and did I have a sexual relationship. My answer was no. Now, let me explain that answer. There was no sexual relationship. Affair is a word you have to interpret. I chose in those years, 1990, 1994 to interpret that if you don't have a sexual relationship, you don't have an affair," Romer said.

That carefully worded definition called to mind the semantic distinctions used by President Bill Clinton when asked to describe his relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Romer has been a staunch defender of the president since becoming DNC chairman, first on the campaign finance probe and now on the Lewinsky controversy.

"I know this man, I've known him for 15 years, he's my friend. I believe him. He's categorically denied it," Romer said during a recent interview with CNN's Larry King.

Romer says his wife Bea and their seven children have long been aware of his relationship with Thornberry, and his 45-year marriage remains strong.

In Other News

Friday February 6, 1998

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With Grand Jury News Leaking, Is Starr's Office Out Of Control?
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Romer Acknowledges Extramarital Relationship

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