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 Segment: 081703-2

Title: Interview with William Jefferson Quinton

Synopsis: Transcript of the interview of the former president by

Barbara Watters on the fifth anniversary of his public

apology for misleading the American people about his

improper relations with Monique Lapinski.

 

Ms. Watters: Good Evening. With me tonight is the former President, William Quinton. Thank you, Mr. President, for agreeing to talk with me on what surely is a dark day in your personal history.

It was five years ago tonight that you admitted to improper relations with Ms. Lapinski. It is just two weeks shy of the anniversary of your resignation from the presidency.

What are your thoughts as you recall these incidents tonight?

Mr. Quinton: First, let me say how kind it was of you and LNI to ask me here tonight.

As I think back on my resignation, I want to believe that I did what was best for this country. I like to believe that what I did has allowed the country to heal.

Ms. Watters: Do you feel any remorse for the actions which precipitated your resignation?

Mr. Quinton: I feel sorry that the country found out about a very personal and private matter. I feel sorry that the taxpayers footed the bill for a overly long, drawn-out and pointless investigation of me and my friends and business dealings and personal matters, which had nothing whatsoever to do with my presidency. I feel sorry for the stress that ordeal placed on my marriage. It was the stress of those investigations which ultimately led to my marriage failing.

Ms. Watters: Many of your friends and colleagues as well as your political adversaries believed your statement five years ago was far short of an apology. How would you answer those critics today?

Mr. Quinton: I'm not sure what I would say to them. I don't know what they expected me to say in front of the cameras five years ago to the nation watching at home. Was I supposed to say something like, "I screwed the hair off that woman"? Would that have satisfied them?

Ms. Watters: Do you have any regrets about that affair?

Mr. Quinton: Regrets. No, of course not. Not over the relations I had with Ms. Lapinski. They were good. And I enjoyed them. I wish they could have been kept private. I regret other people, especially my wife, found out about them.

Ms. Watters: Do you consider that behavior wrong today? You admitted it was in your speech five years ago.

Mr. Quinton: Yes, I still think the behavior was wrong. But I would also say the behavior was normal. After all, I am only human: A male human and, therefore, a flawed human.

Ms. Watters: Could you explain that comment for us, Mr. President?

Mr. Quinton: Surely. A male is driven by hormones more so than his female counterpart. When a man becomes aroused, he must act on the arousal or try to suppress the feelings. And I believe the more often a man becomes aroused, the more difficult it becomes for him to exercise control. One of my flaws, one I continue to struggle with even today--and I'm nearly fifty-seven years old--is suppressing arousals.

Ms. Watters: But, surely--

Mr. Quinton: And, I might add, as a male born in Arkansas, I was never taught to suppress my arousals. And so, as the unfortunate public record now bears out, I acted on my arousal many times while governor of that state. It was a very hard thing to try to do --to change that kind of behavior when I moved to Washington. And I was not very successful at doing so.

Ms. Watters: Then, might--

Mr. Quinton: In addition, consider how many women I came in contact with in Washington who aroused me. Was I supposed to suppress the arousal over and over again? What if I suppressed it too often? I don't think people realize how many women out there want to have some sort of relations with a president. It's hard to tell each and every one of those beautiful women that you can't have relations with them. It's not normal to do so. What man could?

I'll wager that you can ask President Gingridge about having to suppress his arousal around all the beautiful women who approach him for relations, and he will tell you--if he's being honest--that it's impossible to say no to all of them.

Ms. Watters: So you're saying it was Ms. Lapinski who aroused you?

Mr. Quinton: Of course, Ms. Lapinski aroused me. And so did many others….

Ms. Watters: Ms. Lapinski and the others initiated the relations?

Mr. Quinton: Certainly. So, I don't think the American public should judge me so harshly for having failed to suppress my arousal in the case of Ms. Lapinski. Rather, I believe they should be impressed by the fact that I was able to suppress my arousal with so many other women who wanted to have relations with me.

(Commercial Break)

Ms. Watters: We continue now with our conversation with the former president, William Jefferson Quinton.

Mr. Quinton, let's turn now to the women you love the most, your daughter, Shelly, and your former wife--

Mr. Quinton: Yes, I still love them, but I'm not sure they are currently one and two. There are certainly some other candidates that I would have to carefully consider before I definitively said they were the two I love the most. I don't want to mislead you on this point.

Ms. Watters: How is your daughter doing, five years later?

Mr. Quinton: She is doing fine, now. It was rough there for a while --what with the divorce and her dropping out of college. But, with her mother's help--and mine--she's doing fine. I talked to her yesterday. Her drug treatment is progressing, and she should be in a halfway house by the end of next month. She told me she loves me. She said she was sorry for messing up her life with the drugs. And I believe her. And I told her that I understood how those urges can grab a hold of you and not let go.

Ms. Watters: Do you think she'll be going back to school?

Mr. Quinton: If that's what she wants, then I hope she does. But I'll love her regardless of what she wants to do.

Ms. Watters: And what about your former wife?

Mr. Quinton: As you know, she has moved back to Little Rock. She has been working as a fundraiser for Jimmy Carter and Habitat for Humanity. I spoke with her yesterday. She told me she loves me. She said she was sorry for messing up our lives by filing for divorce. And I believe her.

I told her that I understood how the need to withdraw and start over can grab a hold of you and not let go.

Ms. Watters: Do you think the two of you will ever reconcile?

Mr. Quinton: If you mean, will we ever get back together, then the answer is no. The divorce was the right thing to do. She needed to get on with her life, and she couldn't very well do that still saddled to me. I doubt the people of Arkansas want me back in the governor's mansion as the husband of the governor, or want me in Washington as the husband of their senator.

Ms. Watters: Do you think your former wife will run for public office?

Mr. Quinton: I think so. I don't know whether she'll try for the governorship or a senate seat, but I think she would do well in either roll.

Ms. Watters: Earlier, you said that you hoped that your resignation has allowed the country to heal. Do you think it has?

Mr. Quinton: That's hard to assess.

You'll have to excuse me a moment, Ms. Watters. I have to try and suppress my arousal. Geraldo was right about you. You are a hot babe. A real sensual woman.

Ms. Watters: Well, thank you, Mr. President. But, in the interest of time, could you answer my question now? We can deal with your arousal later.

Mr. Quinton: Do you promise?

As I said, it's hard to assess whether the country has healed or not. I think if Al Gore had been given a chance to carry out any of the agenda he had upon stepping into the presidency that we might have healed. Under President Gingridge, whose policies seem ever more Puritan, I'm not sure that healing has taken place.

I would equate the inability to heal with what happened to Andrew Johnson as he tried to implement Lincoln's plans for rebuilding the nation after that terrible war. The congress never gave him a chance. Poor Mr. Gore was never given a chance, either. And when he ran for the presidency on his own, people were still judging me. It's all very unfortunate.

Ms. Watters: Then--

Mr. Quinton: You asked me if I had any regrets concerning my relations with Ms. Lapinski. I think the one I have is that my relations with her ultimately denied the American people a great president in Al Gore.

(Commercial Break)

Ms. Watters: And there you have it. The former president today has reflected on his resignation nearly five years ago and blames his relations with Ms. Lapinski with depriving us of a great president--

Not until the camera goes off, Mr. President.

He is sorry that the American people found out about the relations he had with Ms. Lapinski, but he does not regret the relations themselves.

Just a minute, Mr. President!

When we come back, Lou will update a report broadcast earlier this year on--

Wait for the commercial.…

© 1998 Robert M (Bob) Leahy
Approximate Word Count: 1,625
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