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Saturday, December 19, 1998 Published at 15:07 GMT


Livingston quits over affair

Bob Livingston: "I hope President Clinton will follow"

The speaker-elect of the House of Representatives, Bob Livingston, dropped a bombshell during the debate to impeach President Clinton announcing that he will not take up his position as speaker in the next Congress.


Bob Livingston stuns Congress with his announcement
The Louisiana Republican said he planned to remain a backbencher in Congress for six months before resigning altogether.

"To my colleagues and friends and most especially my wife and family, I have hurt you all deeply and I beg your forgiveness," he said.


Richard Gephardt: "We need to stop destroying imperfect people"
"So I must set the example that I hope President Clinton will follow. I will not stand for Speaker of the House on January 6 _Rather, I shall remain as a backbencher in this Congress that I so dearly love for approximately six months into the 106th Congress whereupon I shall vacate my seat and ask my governor to call a special election."


[ image: Livingston and wife Bonnie: Standing together]
Livingston and wife Bonnie: Standing together
Realising the pressure put on Mr Clinton by Mr Livingston's move, Democrats quickly urged him to reconsider.

White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart said the president urged an end to "the politics of personal destruction" and on behalf of the president, asked Mr Livingston to think again.

House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt also asked Mr Livingston to reconsider.

"We need to stop destroying people on an altar of unattainable morality," Mr Gephardt said. He received applause from not only his Democratic colleagues but also from Republicans when he praised Mr Livingston as "a worthy, good and honourable man".

Republican praise

In an emotional speech, Tom DeLay, a strong advocate for impeachment, praised Mr Livingston.

Choking back tears, he praised Mr Livingston for having the courage to "put his family, his friends, this House and his country above any ambitions he may have".

Mr Livingston disclosed his affair earlier this week when he said his behaviour had almost cost him his marriage.

At that time, calls to resign were rejected. In a reference to President Clinton, he said his indiscretions were not with his employees and he had never been asked to testify on oath about them.





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