Hillary Clinton: Marriage to Bill is worth the 'investment' - but no mention of love

Last updated at 14:25 25 October 2007

Bill and Hillary

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says it has been worth it to stand by her man, Bill Clinton, despite the marital challenges they have faced.

Their marriage was rocked in 1998 when it was revealed that President Bill Clinton had had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, which set off an extended drama that led to his impeachment and a failed attempt to remove him from office.

Hillary Clinton, a senator from New York, talked about her relationship with Bill in an interview with Essence magazine for its November issue. Some people have wondered over the years why she has stood by Clinton, who also had been accused of sexual improprieties by other women.

"I know the truth of my life and of my marriage, my relationship and partnership, my deep abiding friendship with my husband," Clinton said, according to interview excerpts published on www.essence.com. "It's been enormously supportive to me through most of my life.

She does not, however, mention the word "love" - at least, not in the interview excerpts.

Hillary and Bill

"Now obviously we've had challenges as everybody in the world knows," she reportedly said. "But I never doubted that it was a marriage worth investing in, even in the midst of those challenges, and I'm really happy that I made that decision."

Clinton said it was "not a decision for everybody. And I think it's so important for women to stand up for the right of women to make a decision that is best for them."

The presidential hopeful also described her first meeting with the nefarious Mr Clinton.

"It was the spring of 1971," she said. "The very first time I ever saw him, we were at Yale Law School. I had never seen him before or noticed him before. We were in the student lounge where you go to the Coke machines and get a cup of coffee and all that stuff, and I was walking through with a friend of mine, and Bill was holding forth. And, as I walked by him I heard him say, 'And not only that, we grow the biggest watermelons in the world.'

"And I turned to this friend of mine and said, 'Who is that?' And she said, 'That's Bill Clinton, and he's from Arkansas and that's all he ever talks about.'

"Fast forward a couple of weeks, I would see him in the hallway, and I would look at him but I never met him. And I thought he was very attractive. I mean, he was tall. At that time, he had long hair and a red beard. His hair was much more red-gold, and it was curly, and he had this Vikingesque beard.


"I was studying in the library one night, and I was bored. I was looking up, and, where I was positioned, I could see right through the door into the hallway where the stairs were. And I saw Bill standing there talking to another one of our classmates. The gentleman's name was Jeff. Jeff was talking to Bill, and Bill was looking at me, and I was looking at Bill, and I thought, this is ridiculous.

"So I put my books down and walked up to him and said, 'If you're going to keep looking at me, and I'm going to keep looking back at you, we should at least know our names. I'm Hillary Rodham. What's your name?' And he always says, 'I couldn't remember my name.' He's very funny about it.

"And from that moment on, we started dating, and we stayed together."

When asked what the most romantic thing her husband had ever done for her was, Mrs Clinton reportedly hesitated.

Then she said: "Oh he's so romantic. He's always bringing me back things from his trips. He brought me a giant wooden giraffe from Africa.

"Oh, he bought me this watch," she said, holding out her left wrist to show off a Chanel watch, its bracelet made of white cubes shaped like elegant dentures, if you can picture it. "I had dental surgery, and he said it reminded him of teeth."

Romantic indeed.

Mrs Clinton also spoke of the political differences she has with her husband.

"We have influenced each other so much over these, goodness, 36 years now," she said, "there's a bit of a challenge to say, here's where he stops and I start, and vice versa.

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Bill and Hillary Clinton

"But I believe my experience in the Senate, particularly post 911, has given me a much better first-hand understanding of what we're going to have to do to repair the damage that Bush has done over the last six and half years."

Mrs Clinton also had a message for African-American voters: "Don't lose faith. We haven't done everything we have to do.

"I reject the conversation about the failure of these young men," she said. "These could be 1.4 million husbands, fathers and role models. When we squander their potential, we squander America's potential. Ultimately then, the crisis of young men of color is a national crisis."

Bill and Hillary Clinton

In an interview with the same magazine, Bill Clinton said he would be happy to return to the White House under his wife's command.

"Hillary spent the better part of three decades supporting me throughout my political career and now it's her time," he said.

"Before being elected to the Senate, she had never been elected to any office in her entire life, but she was always involved in public service. All that service, the fine work she did when I was President, and her outstanding record in the Senate have prepared her well for the presidency.

"And she has the best combination of mind and heart that I have ever seen.

"I'll do whatever she asks me to do for her campaign. And if she is elected, I will serve in whatever capacity the President determines is best for America.

"She would make the decisions. I would give advice when asked and serve when asked."

Many Republicans believe Americans will not want to return the Clintons to the White House and will take the Lewinsky scandal into account when voting for a president in November 2008.

A new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll suggested that at least among Democrats, the issue is not that big a deal.

The poll found that 42 percent of Democrats agreed that it was the "right thing" for Clinton to stick with her husband after the Lewinsky affair, compared with 5 percent who said it was the wrong choice.

More than seven in 10 Democrats and about half of all voters said they would welcome a White House advisory role for Bill Clinton, the poll found.

The poll also said Hillary Clinton remained a polarizing figure, viewed unfavorably by 44 percent of respondents and favorably by 48 percent.

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