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Gary Hart Blames The Media

Gary Hart, driven from the 1988 presidential race by allegations of an affair, thinks the media have been wrong to rush into print allegations about President Clinton's sex life.

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"If you're dealing with something as serious as the future of the presidency, maybe you don't have to be first," the former Colorado senator told George magazine in an interview published in its April edition.

Although a decade has passed, Hart remains bitter about media handling of allegations he had an affair with model Donna Rice and that his name resurfaces whenever a politician's sex life is questioned.

"I got linked to people whose behavior was, in my judgment, much worse than mine, people who were involved in sexual harassment, for instance. Yet my picture was on the post office wall along with the rest of them, " Hart said in an interview with George editor John F. Kennedy Jr.

Hart said that while President Clinton has been able so far to withstand Paula Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit and accusations of sexual impropriety from other women, Hart had to abandon his presidential campaign because of the ferocity of the reporting about him and Rice.

"The people never really spoke out in 1987; I was out of the race within a week," he said. "I don't think the American people watching that unique event ever really formed a solid opinion."

Asked what character issues are valid in evaluating a candidate, Hart replied: "How they treat their family. How they treat their spouse. I think if you can manage to raise a couple of kids in the turbulence of public life, and they turn out to be solid, decent citizens, that says a lot about the parents."

Hart now lives in Denver and works as a lawyer with the firm of Coudert Brothers. He specializes in business deals focusing on Russia and Eastern Europe. While the Democrat misses politics, he said he does not miss campaigning or the scrutiny he once faced.

"In the past decade or so, the American people have really begun to sort through what is private, what is public, and what is important," he said. "So perhaps out of all this wreckage, some good will come."

Written by Glen Johnson
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