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The Stephanopoulos View

In 1992, George Stephanopoulos helped engineer President Clinton's victory. Until 1996, reports CBS This Morning Co-Anchor Mark McEwen, he was as close to the president as a staffer could get.

But since the Monica Lewinsky story broke, he has been highly critical of the president. Now he has written a book, All Too Human: A Political Education, about his experiences in the Clinton camp. Stephanopoulos spoke with McEwen about some of the highlights and lowlights.

On how he felt when he first became a part of the Clinton White House staff:

"I thought I was the luckiest person in the world. It was about three weeks after the election in November 1992. We had this comeback, underdog campaign that had unseated an incumbent president. I had never dreamed this was something that was possible."

On the implications of his book's title, All Too Human:

"I was trying to write a human drama about what life is like in the White House, what it feels like, the different kinds of conflicts you go through as you make tough political decisions - what it is like when you're 31 years old, and the president is about to announce his first military strike and turns to you and says, 'What should I do?'

"I wanted to bring people into those rooms and give them an understanding that people who work in politics are obviouslyÂ…not perfect, but basically, trying to do the right things and improve the country."

On what he would say to those who would call him an ingrate or a backstabber for writing the book:

"I think I understand why people would feel that way. I'm the first person in the world who would have preferred that this book come out without all the events of the last yearÂ… But once that all happened, the only right thing I could do was to write a book that was honest and fair. And I hope people would say it's a pretty good story, too."

President Clinton reportedly won't let Stephanopoulos' name be spoken in the White House. Why did Stephanopoulos burn such an important bridge?

"I don't look at it that wayÂ… We don't want to be going over all the same ground, but I think it was a terrible disappointment, the way that the president handled the events of the last year, the mistake he made with Monica Lewinsky, then making it worse by lying about itÂ… I had been out of the White House for a year, which is the time this all happened, going on with a new life as a commentator, as an analyst. I felt that it was my responsibility to myself to just be straight about it and let the consequences fall.

"Â…I'm not looking to settle scores in this book. I'm just trying to tell a good story."

On why Stephanopoulos didn't quit when the Gennifer Flowers affair was revealed:

"For a lot of reasons. One, it was an incident about his past. It was an isolated incident. I believed in what he was trying to do. I believed in him. I was ambitious. I wanted to be part of a team going toward the Wite House, and all of those motives were mixed up in my mind.

"I really did believe this was not something that was going to be repeated. One of the tragedies of the last year is that when you go back and, for instance, look at the Gennifer Flowers scene, look at the tapes, the pattern was repeated almost to a T with Monica Lewinsky."

On whether he feels partly responsible for the country's turmoil over the White House scandal:

"I feel mostly proud of what we did. I think the country has accomplished an awful lot under Bill Clinton's leadership. There are tugs and struggles because of his actions, and maybe those of us who helped fuel those actions over time brought the country to great grief. It's like we're living in this contradiction all the time, so I'm torn."

On Hillary Rodham Clinton:

"She's a real person. In some ways, my relationship with Mrs. Clinton was more intense than the relationship with the president, because she has a pretty hard exterior, but she has a soft, emotional, somewhat vulnerable core.

"We were both liberals. We took a lot of heat from the press. But there were times when she thought I wasn't tough enough, fighting hard enough. I would say, 'Why are you being so rigid?' We had a lot of ups and downs. It was very, very intense."

On President Clinton's legacy:

"I think he's going to be seen as one of the most complicated presidents of our time. The shame of his experience is he's not going to be able to avoid the filter of his whole presidency being seen through the Monica Lewinsky affair, the filter of impeachment. Nobody is going to look that good, but his legacy will be heard."