WASHINGTON -- Donna Rice, the actress-model whose relationship with Gary Hart derailed his presidential campaign, refused Thursday to say whether she ever slept with the married former senator and Democratic frontrunner.
In an interview on ABC's '20-20,' Rice was asked, 'Did you sleep with Gary Hart?'
'I don't want to answer you,' replied the honors graduate from the University of South Carolina. 'The reason is because it's a question of dignity. Whether I did, whether I didn't with Gary Hart or anybody else, I wouldn't answer it one way or the other.'
Rice visited Hart at his Washington townhouse, while his wife, Lee, was home ill in Colorado, the weekend of May 2, and it was later disclosed the pair took an overnight yachting trip in March to the island of Bimini with friend and Hart fund-raiser Bill Broadhurst.
The Miami Herald, tipped off about the Washington visit, staked out Hart's house and published a story that led to Hart's withdrawal May 8 from the race for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination.
While Rice refused to criticize Hart, she lashed into Lynn Armandt, who accompanied her on both trips with Hart and then sold photgraphs and stories about Rice -- that Rice said she never authorized -- to the National Enquirer and People magazine.
The Enquirer reported Hart had promised to divorce his wife and marry her, and that she replied, 'My, I'm going to be first lady.'
'I was livid. I couldn't, I can't believe that type of journalism,' Rice said on '20-20.' Asked if the report were true, she shot back, 'Do you think I'm a moron?'
Armandt was one of the two people who knew Rice would be visiting Hart in Washington, the model said, and who could have tipped off The Miami Herald. Armandt also was the only person who had photographs of Rice sitting on Hart's lap in Bimini, she said.
'It's a real slap in the face, stab in the back, salt poured in an open wound,' Rice said of the stories Armandt sold.
And, 'assuming she made the call' to the Herald, Rice said, 'Could it have been petty jealousy or cattiness? I don't know.'
Rice, who said she felt no guilt over the incident with Hart, nevertheless called the scandal and its public revelations 'a tragedy.'
'I feel it's a tragedy. ...I don't quite understand it. ... I mean, it's awful to see someone that you care about being ripped apart by the press, and being sensationalized and exploited. ... It has not been pleasant at all.'
But Rice, 29, also acknowledged some responsibility in the affair. 'I'm responsible for my own actions, and I admit that. It was a lack of judgment on my part and I would have admitted that whether this ever came to light or not.'
Rice, a saleswoman for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals who also acted in commercials and on 'Miami Vice,' acknowledged having socialized with such celebrities as Saudi multi-millionaire Adnan Khashoggi, Prince Albert of Monaco and rock star Don Henley.
She said she did not know Hart was married when she first met him at a party thrown by Henley at Colorado's Aspen ski resort.
Asked at the end of the interview what she would tell her younger sister if she became involved with a married man, Rice said, 'Big sister would say, '...There's a lot of single men out there.''