WASHINGTON, Feb. 19, 1999 (UPI) WASHINGTON, Feb. 19, 1999 (UPI) - President Clinton says ''presidents are people too'' and the Constitution may actually have been re-ratified as a result of his yearlong ordeal over the impeachment trial stemming from his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Appearing subdued, Clinton made the remarks this afternoon at a nationally televised joint news conference with visiting French President Jacques Chirac.
Asked what lessons he's learned from the searing 13-month experience, he answered, ''An enormous amount of respect for our Constitution, our framers and the American people.''
Pressed further, Clinton said, ''I hope the presidency has not been harmed, I do not believe it has been.''
As for advice to future presidents, he said they should decide what they believe they ought to do for the country ''and focus on it and work hard.'' He said, ''The American people hire you to do that and will respond if you work at it, and if they sense that you're doing this for them.''
As for whether the office had been harmed, he said: ''Oh, I think the Constitution has been, in effect, re-ratified. And I hope that the presidency has not been harmed. I don't believe it has been.''
''I don't -- I can't say that I think this has been good for the country. But we will see,'' he added. The president, in his first post-acquittal news conference, also told reporters: ''I expect to have two good years here. I think the American people expect the Congress and me to get back to work, expect us either not to have any destructive feelings, or if we do, not to let them get in the way of our doing their business.''
''These are jobs, these are positions of public responsibility,'' he said. ''These are -- and the United States has great responsibilities to its own people and to the rest of the world. And I don't believe that any of us can afford to let what has happened get in the way of doing our best for our own people and for the future. And I'm going to do my very best to do that, and I think that we should all discipline ourselves with that in mind.''