Twenty five years ago today, former Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart told Ted Koppel on ABC’s “Nightline” that he had committed adultery, and said he had no plans to resume his campaign for the White House.
The scandal gave new meaning to the phrase, “Monkey Business,” the name of the yacht where Hart was famously photographed with model Donna Rice on his lap.
“The Gary Hart adventure, or romantic adventures, becoming a part of the presidential campaign was really the first time that had ever happened,” Koppel said in 2005. “And I remember, in particular, something that Gary Hart said to me during the course of the interview to the effect that he was prepared to answer the question but hoped it would never ever be asked of another candidate again.”
Koppel [Sept. 8, 1987]: Did you have an affair with Ms. Rice?
Gary Hart [Sept. 8, 1987]: I don’t care what questions are asked tonight or anytime in the future. I’m not going to answer them on any specific incidence. Now, I’ve been made, forced– I have been made to make a declaration here that I think is unprecedented in American political history, and I regret it. That question should have never been asked, and I shouldn’t have to answer it.
“It was a terribly awkward question but there was no way of doing that particular interview without asking it because it had become the central issue of his candidacy,” Koppel said.