CONCORD, N.H. — BILL CLINTON'S political future now lies in the hands of the voters of New Hampshire.
Governor Clinton's front-running campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination faltered badly during the past few days because of charges of marital infidelity. A former Arkansas TV reporter and cabaret singer, Gennifer Flowers, charged that Clinton had carried on a 12-year extramarital affair with her.
The governor and his wife, Hillary, fought back late Sunday night with an interview on TV's top-rated show, "60 Minutes." With an estimated 50 million people watching, perhaps the largest political audience of the year, Clinton conceded: "I have acknowledged wrongdoing. I have acknowledged causing pain in my marriage." But he denied being illicitly involved with Ms. Flowers, who was paid by a tabloid newspaper, the Star, to tell her story.
While the governor and his wife admitted their marriage has suffered rough moments, they both say they have worked out their problems and now love and respect each other.
The Clintons insisted that it is unnecessary to spell out intimate details of their past difficulties. Pressed by the CBS interviewer to discuss whether the governor was ever unfaithful, Mrs. Clinton said:
"I don't want to be any more specific.... I don't think being more specific about what's happened in the privacy of our life together is relevant to anybody besides us."
Since Flowers's charges were raised a few days ago, Clinton's first-place poll standing in New Hampshire has fallen 13 points, dropping him into a tie with former Sen. Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts. Both now have 27 percent support among Democratic voters, according to the survey by American Research Group Inc. of Manchester, N.H.