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 »
ANOTHER NUCLEAR OPTION?
Byrd Rule Could Trip Up Health Legislation
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”

Source:
ONE WEEK
Senate Votes To Fund Government
2 days ago
BREAKING
ON TO SENATE
House Passes Spending Bill
2 days ago
BREAKING

The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.

PRESIDENT CALLS MEDICAID FUNDS A “BAILOUT”
Puerto Rico Another Sticking Point in Budget Talks
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."

Source:
POTENTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?
Democrats Threaten Spending Bill Over Obamacare
3 days ago
BREAKING

Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.

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