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
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 »
BACKING OUT ON BERNIE
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

AKNOWLEDGING THE INEVITABLE
UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Source:
AP KEEPING COUNT
Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Source:
TRUMP FLOATED IDEA ON JIMMY KIMMEL’S SHOW
Trump/Sanders Debate Before California Primary?
3 days ago
THE LATEST
CAMPAIGNS INJECTED NEW AD MONEY
California: It’s Not Over Yet
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.

Source:
×