President Clinton said yesterday that first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is not making excuses for his "inexcusable" marital infidelity.
Mrs. Clinton, who is considering a U.S. Senate race in New York, this week offered a psychological explanation for Mr. Clinton's unfaithfulness.
Mrs. Clinton said in the premiere issue of Talk magazine that the president was "scarred by abuse" as a small child and had witnessed "terrible conflict" between his mother and his grandmother.
"Now, I don't believe that anybody could fairly read the article and think that she was making any excuses for me," the president said yesterday in the Rose Garden, where he again decried the GOP tax-cut plan.
"I haven't made any excuses for what was inexcusable, and neither has she. Believe me," Mr. Clinton said.
Mr. Clinton, whose father died in a car crash before the president was born, added that his childhood was no "bed of roses." But he said he has no complaints because he always knew he was loved.
The media-cautious first lady may have granted the interview to keep questions about her marriage from dogging her on the campaign trail.
But the gambit appears to have backfired. The first lady's office and the White House are scrambling to counter the impression that Mrs. Clinton offered an apologia for the president's behavior.
"She did not say the president's childhood in any way caused his behavior, nor does she believe that," Mrs. Clinton's spokeswoman, Marsha Berry, said Tuesday.
Mrs. Clinton, continuing her "listening tour" in New York yesterday, tried to drop the issue that she reopened in the interview.
"This is an issue that the country has put behind us, and I have as well," Mrs. Clinton told reporters in Jamestown, N.Y., according to Reuters. "I've said all I'm going to say on that. …