President Clinton wishes he had done a better job in expressing his remorse over the Monica Lewinsky affair, says a Democratic lawmaker who spoke with him last week.
"The president admitted to us that the timing of his speech was probably not the best and that he wished he had more time to reflect and get his emotions together before he addressed the American people," Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."Clinton addressed the nation on Aug. 17 just hours after he acknowledged to a grand jury an improper relationship with Lewinsky, a former White House intern. His four-minute speech was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for showing little contrition and attacking Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.
McGovern said he and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who joined Clinton at a political event in their state last week, both urged the president to say more about the affair when he felt it was appropriate to do so.
In remarks to a civil rights gathering last week, Clinton, without mentioning Lewinsky, said that seeking forgiveness was getting easier the more he does it.
He added that "the anger, the resentment, the bitterness, the desire for recrimination against people you believe have wronged you, they harden the heart and deaden the spirit and lead to self-inflicted wounds."
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, one of the first to call on Clinton to apologize, said the president must do more to get back in the nation's good graces. "It is not a private matter. This is really an abusive power situation," Hatch said on "Fox News Sunday." "He ought to answer it. And he really ought to speak softly and kindly and humbly to the American people."
Other Democrats said Clinton wants to find a way to do that. "He's very disturbed with his own conduct. He's regretful. He wants to ask for forgiveness," Democratic National Chairman Roy Romer said on ABC's "This Week. "I think that's what he was doing this week. It's very awkward and embarrassing to do this if you're the president of the United States."
House Democratic Whip David Bonior of Michigan said Clinton retains the support of Democrats and most Americans. "They think Wash-ing-ton is obsessed with this issue," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "They're disappointed in the president's personal behavior, but on the other hand they look at what he has done good for the country."
Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., told ABC that if Starr's expected report to Congress contains nothing more than details on Clinton's relationship with Lewinsky, "it will be forgotten and it will be dropped like a bad memory."