David Petraeus apologizes for affair in his first public speech since leaving the CIA


Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus walks the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to ring the Opening Bell as the CIA Commemorates it's 65th Anniversary on September 18, 2012 in New York City. He shocked the world just a month later with his resignation.


Spencer Platt

LOS ANGELES -- Former CIA director David Petraeus made what is being billed as a comeback speech Tuesday night in his first appearance since the news of his affair with biographer Paul Broadwell broke in November.

Petraeus spoke at the University of Southern California before a group of 600 military students and veterans at the university's annual ROTC dinner.

The New York Times published excerpts of a leaked transcript of the speech, where the 37-year military veteran apologized for the extramarital affair that forced his resignation from the CIA.

"Needless to say, I join you keenly aware that I am regarded in a different light now than I was a year ago," Petraeus reportedly said.

"I am also keenly aware that the reason for my recent journey was my own doing," the text of his speech read.

"So please allow me to begin my remarks this evening by reiterating how deeply I regret — and apologize for — the circumstances that led me to resign from the CIA and caused such pain for my family, friends and supporters."

More from GlobalPost: How David Petraeus changed the world

Petraeus, one of America’s most decorated four-star generals, resigned from the CIA on November 9 and has kept a low profile in the suburbs of Washington, DC since news of his affair broke.

At the time, Petraeus told his staff he was guilty of "extremely poor judgment."

"Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours," he said, according to the AP.

Before replacing Leon Panetta as the head of the CIA, Petraeus was in charge of the US-led international military force in Afghanistan.

According to longtime crisis communications expert, Howard Bragman, Petraeus' affair will not prevent the 60-year-old from making a comeback in public life.

"I think the world is open to him now," Bragman, vice chairman of the image-building company Reputation.com told the AP.

"I think he can do whatever he wants. Realistically, he can even run for public office, although I don't think he'd want to because he can make more money privately."

The Times also noted that Petraeus' wife Holly would not be attending the event.