Originally created 06/18/04

Clinton tells CBS he never considered resigning

NEW YORK -- Former President Bill Clinton tells the CBS newsmagazine "60 Minutes" that he never considered resigning and is proud he fought impeachment, the outcome of his lying under oath about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

"I stood up to it and beat it back," Clinton says of the impeachment process, which he describes as "an abuse of power."

"The whole battle was a badge of honor. I don't see it as a stain, because it was illegitimate."

The interview, to take up the full hour of Sunday's program, is timed to next week's publication of Clinton's memoir, "My Life," which covers his Arkansas childhood, his tenure as that state's governor as well as his presidency.

Clinton sees the Lewinsky affair as "a terrible moral error" whose disclosure to his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, put him "in the doghouse."

"I did something for the worst possible reason. Just because I could," Clinton says of his infidelity. "I think that's just about the most morally indefensible reason anybody could have for doing anything."

Questioned by CBS News anchor Dan Rather, Clinton said he, his wife and their daughter, Chelsea, dealt with their family crisis through counseling.

"We did it together. We did it individually," he says. "We did family work."

Clinton pronounces his economic plan as his greatest accomplishment of his eight years in office.

"I kept score, how many people's lives were better off," he tells Rather. "People actually had the ability to do more things than ever before."

The former commander in chief also takes pride in assembling the coalition that stopped former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on independence-minded ethnic Albanians.

"The day that Kosovar war ended and I knew Milosevic's days were numbered was a great day. I had a lot of great days," he says.

Excerpts from the interview, taped Tuesday at Clinton's home in Chappaqua, N.Y., and last weekend in Arkansas, were released Wednesday. The book, published by Alfred A. Knopf, has a first printing of 1.5 million copies.

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