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Monday, January 26, 1998 Published at 18:18 GMT


Hillary standing by her man
image: [ Hillary Clinton publicly supports her husband in a speech about his education initiative ]
Hillary Clinton publicly supports her husband in a speech about his education initiative

America's First Lady, Hillary Clinton, has vowed to stand by her man as an onslaught of sex scandals threatens the president's position.

Bill Clinton is under fire as a series of scandals gather momentum amid claims that he also forced one of his alleged lovers to lie about their relationship under oath.

Hillary Clinton's close friend Cathy Burgess (1'58")
Mrs Clinton is said to be in "fighting mood" and the first round of her battle was fought outside a Washington church on Sunday. She was seen walking arm in arm with her husband.

It was the first time the couple had appeared in public since allegations surfaced that he had an affair with the White House aide Monica Lewinsky and then asked her to lie about it.

[ image: Monica Lewinsky hugs Bill Clinton after the 1996 presidential campaign]
Monica Lewinsky hugs Bill Clinton after the 1996 presidential campaign
Ms Lewinsky is said to have admitted to the affair on tape.

Rumours of her husband's womanising have plagued the couple since he first sought public office in 1974, and she has stood by him steadfastly throughout.

Mr Clinton's former political adviser, James Carville, said: "She's very much in fighting mood. She's rallying the troops."

Former White House press adviser Dee Dee Myers (0'35")
Mrs Clinton is understood to have gathered together her most trusted advisers including the former US Trade Representative Mickey Cantor and Hollywood producer Harry Thomason.

Until last week, the most public of Mr Clinton's sex scandals erupted at the height of the 1992 presidential campaign when Gennifer Flowers, a nightclub singer, announced that she had a long-term affair with him.

[ image: Gennifer Flowers]
Gennifer Flowers
The Clintons went on national television to face the music. This time they have generally shunned the cameras.

In the interview Mrs Clinton said: "I'm not sitting here, some little woman standing by her man. I'm sitting here because I love him and I respect him."

Asked whether he had a 12-year affair with Flowers, the president said the "allegations are false." but he admitted to having "caused pain" in the marriage.

On Sunday, the Clintons attended church together and smiled while chatting with the ministers and members of the congregation.

[ image: Paula Jones: pursuing the president through the courts]
Paula Jones: pursuing the president through the courts
Before the Monica Lewinsky story broke, Mr and Mrs Clinton had been accused of putting on a romantic show for the press to deflect controversy over the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit.

Mrs Jones says Mr Clinton propositioned her seven years ago while he was Governor of Arkansas.

A picture of the Clintons dancing on the beach during their New Year's vacation in the Caribbean made headlines and the two have been physically affectionate at several recent White House functions.

Last week, the First Lady said the charges were completely false and extremely "painful" to endure.

And there may be more trouble in the wings, according to Newsweek, which reports that Mrs Jones's lawyers are trying to track down as many as 100 women who may have had sexual relations with Mr Clinton over the years.

Scandals in Britain

In British politics, one tactic employed to survive an affair is for the MP to appear with his wife - providing a photo opportunity of the smiling couple together.

In 1983 Lord Cecil Parkinson admitted to having a child, Flora, by his former secretary Sara Keays. His wife Ann stuck by him but he had to resign as Chairman of the Conservative Party.

He spent years in the political wilderness but is now party chairman again.

The former Conservative Defence Procurement Minister, Alan Clark, earned a reputation as a womaniser. But his wife Jane says she has never considered leaving the millionaire MP despite his infidelity.

After choosing a brief period away from politics Mr Clark is back in Parliament as MP for Kensington and Chelsea, in London.

The Liberal Democrat party leader, Paddy Ashdown, also survived details of an affair with his secretary Tricia Howard. His wife Jane stood by him and his position was never seriously endangered. He is still party leader.

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