What I Learned Covering Hillary Clinton

She’s a magnet for controversy — and a savvy survivor.

Hillary Clinton is interviewed and photographed in Chicago on March 16, 1992, during the presidential campaign for her husband, Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton served on Wal-Mart's board of directors for six years when her husband was governor of Arkansas, resigning in May 1992 two months after this photo was taken, and now is feeling political heat over her deep ties to Wal-Mart. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)
AP
Ron Fournier
Add to Briefcase
Ron Fournier
Feb. 1, 2013, midnight

I stopped bet­ting against Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton 23 years ago when I watched her crush one man’s am­bi­tions to pre­serve her hus­band’s ca­reer.

Summoned to a Cap­it­ol ro­tunda news con­fer­ence by Tom McRae, an earn­est Demo­crat chal­len­ging then-Gov. Bill Clin­ton for re-elec­tion, I heard the click, clack, click of the first lady’s low-heeled shoes ap­proach from a hid­den marble hall­way.

“Tom!” the first lady of Arkan­sas shouted. “I think we oughta get the re­cord straight!”

Wav­ing a sheaf of pa­pers, Hil­lary Clin­ton un­der­cut McRae’s cri­ti­cism of the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion by point­ing to his past praise of the gov­ernor. It was a bru­tal sand­bag­ging.

“Many of the re­ports you is­sued not only praise the gov­ernor on his en­vir­on­ment­al re­cord,” she said, “but his edu­ca­tion and his eco­nom­ic re­cord!”

McRae’s primary cam­paign was toast. Bill Clin­ton was one step closer to the White House.

The story is rel­ev­ant today, Clin­ton’s last as sec­ret­ary of state, be­cause it serves as a re­mind­er of her im­mense tal­ent and am­bi­tion. Will she seek the pres­id­ency in 2016? Clin­ton doesn’t know. Friends ex­pect her to rest a year or so be­fore tak­ing a fi­nal meas­ure of her health and her pro­spects.

But if you don’t think she wants to be pres­id­ent, you don’t know her. If you don’t think she’s a de­term­ined policy wonk and pub­lic ser­vant, you haven’t been pay­ing at­ten­tion. And if you don’t think she has what it takes to win, you haven’t met Tom McRae.

Clin­ton is a sur­viv­or. She has weathered more peaks and val­leys than the Alps: Her cul­tur­ally dis­par­aging re­marks dur­ing the 1992 pres­id­en­tial race; White­wa­ter, health care re­form, and the Mon­ica Lew­in­sky af­fair in the White House; as a U.S. sen­at­or, re­spect and pop­ular­ity; in her 2008 pres­id­en­tial cam­paign, fail­ure and fam­ily in­trigue; and at the State De­part­ment, glob­al ac­claim, soar­ing ap­prov­al rat­ings and, tra­gic­ally, Benghazi.    

If you won­der wheth­er Clin­ton would be will­ing to risk her leg­acy for an­oth­er White House bid, let me tell you an­oth­er story. In late 1998 or early 1999, people close to Clin­ton told me she was mulling a U.S. Sen­ate cam­paign. I was stunned: No sit­ting first lady had ever con­tem­plated such a move, much less one whose hus­band had been im­peached for ly­ing about an af­fair.

It took me sev­er­al days to over­come my doubts. When I fi­nally re­por­ted that she was seek­ing the va­cant U.S. Sen­ate seat in New York, an­oth­er news or­gan­iz­a­tion quoted sev­er­al au­thor­it­at­ive sources in­sist­ing that she was not.

The com­pet­i­tion didn’t know what I did: Nev­er bet against Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton.

What We're Following See More »
24% GOOD ENOUGH FOR FIRST PLACE
Macron, Le Pen Lead French Elections
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right politician Marine Le Pen led the first round of voting in France’s presidential election, according to early projections, as voters redrew the political map, placing the European Union at the center of a new political divide. Projections by the Kantar-Sofres polling firm showed Mr. Macron on track to win the first round with about 24% of the vote, ahead of Ms. Le Pen with nearly 22%." The vote marks the end of the country's dominance by conservative and socialist parties. The top vote-getters head to a runoff on May 7.

Source:
MENDING FENCES?
Trump to Deliver Keynote for Holocaust Memorial Event
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

President Trump will deliver the keynote address for at the National Holocaust Museum's National Day of Remembrance ceremony on Tuesday. He'll speak from the Capitol Rotunda. The move is likely an effort to try to mend fences with Jewish groups. In January, "the White House ignited controversy when it didn't mention Jews or anti-Semitism in a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day." And certain members of his inner circle are still suspected of harboring white supremacist or anti-Semitic views."

Source:
MAY NOT SIGN BUDGET BILL WITHOUT IT
Trump Issues Threat on Border Wall Funding
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Trump and his top aides applied new pressure Sunday on lawmakers to include money for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in a must-pass government funding bill, raising the possibility of a federal government shutdown this week. In a pair of tweets, Trump attacked Democrats for opposing the wall and insisted that Mexico would pay for it “at a later date,” despite his repeated campaign promises not including that qualifier. And top administration officials appeared on Sunday morning news shows to press for wall funding, including White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who said Trump might refuse to sign a spending bill that does not include any."

Source:
DOCUMENTS OBTAINED BY U.S. INTEL
Putin-Linked Think Tank Developed Plan to Influence U.S. Election
4 days ago
THE LATEST

A Russian government think tank run by Putin loyalists "developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system." Two confidential documents from the Putin-backed Institute for Strategic Studies, obtained by U.S. intelligence, provide "the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election."

Source:
HELPED WIN FISA APPROVAL
FBI Relied on Dossier Allegations to Monitor Page
5 days ago
THE LATEST

"The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump's campaign as part of the justification" to monitor Carter Page, who was then a defense adviser to the Trump campaign. "The dossier has also been cited by FBI Director James Comey in some of his briefings to members of Congress in recent weeks."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login