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Public Statements

Interview with ABC's Barbara Walters

By:
Date:
Location: ABC News 'Specials and Breaking News'

Copyright 2003 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.  
ABC News Transcripts

ANNOUNCER This is an ABC News special.

BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS There is the big question. What people most want to know, and it's this, how could you stay in this marriage?

ANNOUNCER Tonight, for the first time, Hillary Clinton opens the book of her life and talks about it all.

BARBARA WALTERS

You write, "I could hardly breathe. I started crying and yelling at him, 'Why did you lie to me?'" What did your husband say?

ANNOUNCER

And unprecedented journey from her childhood days where here values and dreams were shaped to the and campus years when she was swept away by politics and passion.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRAT, NEW YORK

I just couldn't take my eyes off of him. He looked like a Viking.

BARBARA WALTERS

Your mother-in-law was amazed that her son was going to marry you. She said he used to bring home beauty queens.

ANNOUNCER

Then, the White House scandals, one after another after another, threatening to destroy the presidency and their family.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I felt that the only people who had a right to judge and hold him accountable for his private behavior were Chelsea and me.

ANNOUNCER

And the question everyone is asking today, could there be another Clinton White House?

BARBARA WALTERS

Is this country ready to accept you, do you think, as a national candidate?

ANNOUNCER

Now, in her own words, Hillary Clinton's journey, public, private, personal, with Barbara Walters.

graphics: hillary clinton's journey: public, private, personal with barbara walters

BARBARA WALTERS

Good evening. You have been hearing everyone else talking about Hillary Clinton this week. Tonight, it's her turn. The First Lady, who remained publicly composed, even inscrutable through an endless series of White House scandals, is finally opening up. Her new autobiography, a memoir, titled "Living History" is already a publishing phenomenon. And almost unheard of one million copies printed for its release tomorrow. In great part, it is a wife's deeply personal account of being betrayed in front of the entire world.

BARBARA WALTERS

But over the next hour, 55-year-old Hillary Clinton answers many other questions people have been asking for a long time. How did she and her husband survive the countless investigations? How much was her fault? Do her ambitions now include the presidency? And the big question, why are they still together? I interviewed Mrs. Clinton in three pivotal places in her life. The Illinois neighborhood where she grew up, the house in Chappaqua, New York, which she and her husband call home, and, of course, Washington, DC.

video clip from campaign party

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) It was a sweet, shining moment, Hillary Rodham Clinton, First Lady of the United States, former First Lady of Arkansas, elected in her own right, as a US Senator from New York. But this election night celebration would also be a farewell to the limelight. Senatorial etiquette holds that new Senators keep a low profile, and the junior Senator from New York has been careful to do that. She's gotten high marks from colleagues for doing her homework and learning the ropes.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Tougher than being First Lady, being a Senator?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Different. Very different.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Different. Yeah.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) I caught up with her at the capitol between votes.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) You know, you have been working on so many bills with Republicans, many of whom wanted to impeach your husband, voted to impeach your husband, many of whom killed your health care bill. How do you turn old enemies into allies?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Well, we can disagree, and of course we do disagree. But I have found allies on all kinds of issues. I've even begun working with Tom Delay on adoption and foster care, an issue we both care deeply about.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Now, he was the leading voice in the capital to impeach your husband. I mean, no hard feelings? No remnants?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

You know, I don't ...

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Are you a saint? How do you get on with this?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

No, no, but I'm a Senator. And my job is to represent New Yorkers. And I can't feel that there's anything personal about it.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) 2004, the presidency. Suppose, okay. You can do the question. But suppose these Democrats, maybe the same ones who said you should run for the senate, say you must, for the sake of the party, run in 2004. Would you categorically say no?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I would tell them to take a deep breath, probably two aspirins and get a good night's sleep.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Would you say no?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Absolutely, I'd say no.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Okay. No to 2004. 2008? I know you're not going to tell me whether or not you'll throw your hat in the ring. Okay.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Of course.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) But do you think that if you did, is this country ready to accept you, do you think, as a national candidate?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I don't have any intentions or plans of running. I'm flattered that the question gets asked. I ...

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Everyday.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

... and I hope that it will lead to a woman running for president. And we have a lot of good women.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) She wouldn't rule it in or out. But Hillary Clinton's political history is one of evolution.

video clip of hillary clinton

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) For instance, she was virtually born a Republican. Her father, Huge, was a rock-ribbed GOP supporter. And Hillary Rodham grew up in the solidly conservative suburb of Park Ridge. The future Democratic First Lady actively campaigned for Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election. Her mother, a closet Democrat, had all been abandoned by her own parents as a child. And Hillary Clinton's life long interest in children has its roots in her mother's painful experience.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

It is a great place with lots of memories for me. This is where ...

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) We brought Senator Clinton back to Park Ridge several days ago, back to a town that actually hasn't changed as much as the rest of the world over the past 30 years. You wouldn't be surprised to meet Ozzie and Harriet on the next corner.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) You write that there were, like, 47 kids to play with here. And everybody, the kids could ride their bicycles and walk down the streets and ...

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

That's right. It was such a safe, nurturing community to grow up in.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) You used to come home everyday for lunch?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I did. Everything was within walking distance or bike riding distance. The school, the church, the park. Everything that was part of my life.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) So, if I go back years ago and I open that front door, I would find a very happy little girl?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Well, you would.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) I understand you had your first date in this movie theater?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

This movie theater. And I hate to tell you, so many years ago, fourth grade ...

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) Every Saturday afternoon, it was the Pickwick Theater. And afterwards ...

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Exactly. The best olive burger in America.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) ... Hillary and her friends would head for one of the nearby restaurant, as she and I did the other afternoon.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) You wanted to be president of the student body at one point.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

In high school.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) In high school.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Right.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) And you lost.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I did.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) And one of the students, one of the guys said, of course, you lost. A girl can't be president. Yet, whatever happened to that guy?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Well, actually, I've seen in years since. But that was a very common attitude. You know, when I was a little younger than that I thought I wanted to be an astronaut and I wrote off to NASA and they wrote back saying, you know, we're not talking girls. There, there were these differences.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) You went east to college, to Wellesley in Massachusetts, an all- female college. And you were the first student ever to speak at a Wellesley commencement, and you are so fiery that "Life" magazine put your picture, at that time, as one of the country's most effective young commencement speakers. It was a big deal. What was your message?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

My message really was that, you know, young people should be taken seriously. We deserve to be listened to. And that politics should become the art of making possible what seems impossible.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) After you graduated from Wellesley, you went to Yale law school. You were one of only 27 women out of 235 students, and you were kind of a star because people knew a little bit about the Wellesley and the "Life" magazine and so forth. Yet, you say it was Bill Clinton who was hard to miss. Why was he hard to miss? What did he look like?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Well, he looked like a Viking. He had this big, bushy, brownish reddish beard and longish hair, and he looked very imposing. Here was this Rhodes Scholar from Arkansas who had a lot to say and knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Were you attracted to him from the beginning?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Oh, from the very beginning.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Really?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Yeah, from the very beginning. In fact, there was a point at which I still hadn't really met him, and I was sitting in the library and he was standing just outside the door and he was looking at me and I was looking at him and I finally thought, this is ridiculous, 'cause every time I saw him on campus I just couldn't take my eyes off if him and he was always watching me. So, I put my books down, I walked out and I said, you know, if you're gonna keep looking at me and I'm gonna keep looking back, we should at least know each other. I'm Hillary Rodham. And he told me his name. He tells people that he couldn't remember his name. But it, it was an immediate attraction and it was just a, a life-changing experience to have met him.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) From, from day one.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

From day one. Yeah.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) You write in the book that one of the things that first attracted you were his hands.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

He has these beautiful hands. Very long fingers. And I've watched those hands age along with us over all these years, and I, I just kind of mark our relationship in watching those hands over decades now.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) You were really besotted, weren't you?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

It's an old-fashioned word that I plead guilty to. Yeah, besotted is a good word.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Again and again Bill Clinton asked you to marry him, and for more than two years you put him off?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I did.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Why?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I did. You know, he's like a force of nature. He is so overwhelming. And I knew I loved him, I knew I was in love with him. I knew that there wasn't anyone who made me happier, that I had more fun with, that I found more interesting. But, I also didn't want just to follow along in his wake.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Were you afraid, in effect, that he would sort of, that his largeness in every way would swallow you up?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I think there was some of that, because he is larger than life and I think people know that.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Your mother-in-law was amazed that her son was going to marry you. She said, "He used to bring home beauty queens." She said, please forgive me, "You wore no make up, you had big glasses." And she wrote, "I would grind my teeth and I would wish I could sit Hillary on the edge of my tub ...

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

That's right.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) ... and give her some make-up lessons."

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

And that's exactly what she said. And, you know, she was an American original.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) What did you look like that made her say that?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Well, I didn't wear any make-up, I cut my own hair, and I did wear my big old glasses. But she was a strong woman with a great heart. And she was surprised that Bill and I were in love, and that he kept asking me to marry him and I kept saying, "Wait a minute. I'm not sure," because of course she thought, who wouldn't immediately say yes to her son? And eventually, you know, I learned how to use make- up and I got my hair looking a little bit better so it all came around okay.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) You were young. You were smart. You had a future in Washington. But you gave it up to be with Bill Clinton, to move to Arkansas where you had no friends, no family, no traditional roots there in any way. And one of your best friends said, why on earth would you throw away your future?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

You know, I've had to at so many points in my life listen really hard to my own feelings. Sometimes my family and my friends have said, do this or do that, or don't do this. I just knew that I had to take that step. So, I followed my heart and I went to Arkansas.

ANNOUNCER

When we come back ...

BARBARA WALTERS

The woman named Gennifer Flowers claimed that she had a 12-year affair with her husband.

video clip of gennifer flowers press conference

BARBARA WALTERS

Your husband told you it wasn't true. Did you believe him?

ANNOUNCER

Hillary Clinton's Journey continues, next.

graphics: hillary clinton's journey: public, private, personal with barbara walters

commercial break

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BARBARA WALTERS

In 1978, Bill Clinton was first elected governor of Arkansas. And as his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, found herself in unfamiliar territory. She was no Southern Belle, but she tried her best to fit in. She eventually swapped her big horn-rimmed glasses for contact lenses. And it was in Little Rock that the stage would be set for the Clinton's political future in Washington, and for the scandals that would plague them throughout their White House years. We talked about Arkansas at the Clinton's new white house where they live today.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) Home base for Bill and Hillary Clinton these days is a beautifully renovated farm house in Chappaqua, 50 minutes north of Manhattan. They have a smaller house in Washington where the Senator spends half of her time. But this is what they call home.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

We really try to be together as much as possible. And this is where, you know, we've really feel like we've made our family home.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Does the President come to Washington, too?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

He does.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) I have to ask you a current events question. Your husband recently said that he thought, especially if a president was young, that he should be able to run again in his lifetime. Right now you can run for eight years and then that's it.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Mm hmm.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) So, do you think that maybe the law should be changed so that Bill Clinton could run again?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

You really have to ask him what he thinks about that. I, I'm a supporter of two terms, to make sure we don't have anyone who gets too powerful.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) One more question, when we talk about -homes, so forth, how's Chelsea? Where's she living?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

She's finishing up her studies in England. And she'll be back in New York in the fall, which is great news. And she's kinda making her own way in the world now.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) And now she'll be closer to mommy.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

That's good, don't you think? I'm all for that. I think any mommy is all for that.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Well, let's go into this beautiful home.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Thank you. We're glad to have you here.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) When we arrived in the Clinton's family room, the Senator and I picked up the conversation where we left off in Park Ridge. We talked about her time in Little Rock.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Well, let's go back to Arkansas. As the wife of the governor of Arkansas, you were a progressive and modern woman in a traditional society. Did you have trouble fitting in?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Well, it was an adjustment for me, but I loved Arkansas. And the people of Arkansas were not only very good to me, but I made some of the best friends that I've ever made.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) You write about your early years as the wife of the governor, and you talk about the oddity of my dress, my northern ways and the use of my maiden name.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Right.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) And those three things ...

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Right.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) ... made it a little difficult.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Well, you know, I didn't have an accent, a southern accent, anyway. And you know, I had worn blue jeans and work shirts and, and big old sweaters all during law school, so I did have some adjusting to do.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) While your husband was governor you write that you were essentially the bread winner in the family.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Right.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) You made investments in the commodities market, you dealt in real estate, White Water, you worked for the Rose law firm, all of which at the time you thought were very innocent, all of these things came back to haunt you. Was there anything you could've done differently?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Well, Barbara, of course all of those things were made into political issues. And after all of the years of investigation, and all of the looking under rocks and all that was done, of course there wasn't anything wrong. I think I could've certainly explained myself better and maybe been more aware of the appearance. I'm sure in hindsight I could have done a better job explaining myself.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Senator, I have to ask you about some of the things you write about, and they're difficult questions to ask and probably difficult to answer. When Governor Clinton decided to run for president, a woman named Gennifer Flowers claimed that she had a 12-year affair with your husband.

video clip from jennifer flower press conference

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Your husband told you it wasn't true. Did you believe him?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I did.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Years later, under oath in a deposition in the lawsuit, your husband did admit that he did have a sexual encounter with Gennifer Flowers. How did you reconcile that with what he told you all the years earlier?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Well, you know, Barbara, we've been through a lot together now, over many years. And as I also write in the book, we have spent some time having marriage counseling, which I highly recommend to people, especially people who led such busy lives as we did over so many years together. And I think I'll leave it at that.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) The Gennifer Flowers stories made headlines and almost derailed your husband's campaign. There were the, the accusations that he was a womanizer. You had to deal with that. How'd you deal with it?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Well, you know, those are private issues that you have to deal with. But what I admired about that campaign was the way the American public really got it right. You know, they wanted to make a decision about who they thought would be best for them and their families. And that's what they did.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) In spite of some of the problems in the campaign, your husband defeated George Bush and became president.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) And in addition to being First Lady, you're a mother.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

That's right.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) And one of the people whom you went to for advice was a former First Lady, Jacqueline Onassis, and that was very meaningful to you. What, what did she teach you. What did she tell you?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Yeah. Oh, Barbara. You know, she was so warm and kind to me. We talked about raising children in the public spotlight because she had done it with such grace and success. She stressed how you could never let your child become kind of an object of all this public interest, because it would ruin them. You had to keep making sure they didn't feel entitled or indulged. And I took those lessons to heart.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) You also asked Mr. Onassis about your appearance. You said, "Should I change -should I change my look?" That was the headband days.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Well, yes, that was the headband days. And here I am, you know, hardly an icon of fashion, asking one of the 20th century icons. And I really appreciated her response. She said, oh, be yourself. You know, just do what you feel right about. It, it was a funny conversation. You know, tell me, Jackie, what do you think? Oh, just go be yourself. And it was good advice.

ANNOUNCER

When we return, the decision that backfired, big time.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Then, Governor Mario Cuomo said to me, boy, what did do you to make your husband so mad at you? And I said, what are you talking about?

ANNOUNCER

When Hillary Clinton's Journey continues, next.

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BARBARA WALTERS

Hillary Clinton was never simply Bill Clinton's wife. She was always a woman with her own accomplishments and ambitions. And in the world of politics played at the highest level, that would both set her apart and set her up for constant scrutiny and attacks. She had to cope with the health care fiasco, the suicide of Vince Foster, and the emergence of a woman named Paula Jones.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) You became First Lady like no other First Lady before you. You had your own interests. You got involved in public policy. No First Lady had done that without being severely criticized. Did you realize what you were getting into?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Oh, my goodness. What I got myself into I never could have predicted. You know, I tell a story in the book about how then- Governor Mario Cuomo said to me, boy, what did you do to make your husband so mad at you? And I said, what are you talking about? He said, you'd have to be really mad at somebody to put them in charge of health care.

video clip of congressional hearing

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) But Bill Clinton did put his wife in charge of a task force on national health care reform, and the group labored for two years amid controversy and criticism. But with it all, their proposals failed to attract support in Congress.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) After the health care bill was defeated, the Democratic party lost control of both the House and the Senate in the midterm elections. Did you blame yourself? And did your husband ever blame you?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Oh, my husband never did. But there's no doubt that the disappointment people felt over our failure on health care certainly kept a lot of Democrats at home, and kind of inspired a lot of opposition on the other side. I believe that I probably in some way helped to contribute to those losses. It made me feel terrible.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) One of the most tragic events during your husband's first term was the suicide of Deputy White House Counsel, and your close friend, Vince Foster.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) And there were the investigations into the cause of his death. The more vitriolic newspapers almost went so far as to, to say that it was murder.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

That's right.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) And all the investigations later determined it was a suicide. But it was a terrible time.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Well, you know, Barbara, that whole year was one of incredible highs and terrible lows. You know, you go from seeing your husband sworn as, as President of the United States on January 20th, and a few months later on, by my father's bedside in an intensive care unit watching him die. A few months after that our good friend, someone we cherished, kills himself. And then, before the year is out, Bill's mother dies. It's hard no matter what color the house you live in. But when you're in the White House, and your husband as a 24-hour a day job, and you have public responsibilities and duties, I, I think it's probably even harder to keep going.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

So, when I think even about that it, it just makes my stomach knot up. And you know, certainly, both Bill and I and all of Vince's friends have asked ourselves a million times since then, what could we have done? Is there some word we could have said, some action we could have taken that might -possibly have prevented this terrible tragedy?

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) In the middle of all this, in the middle of your husband's first term, a woman named Paula Jones accused the president of making unwarranted advances to her years before, and she filed a civil suit against him for $700,000 in damages. Did you, for a moment, believe her?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

No. No. And, you know, when the judge threw out her case and said it was without factual or legal merit, I think that about summed it up. But I'm not saying it's easy, those were difficult days, but it was what I had to do.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) I can barely remember a week that went by when one of you wasn't being criticized and investigated. There was Travelgate, there was White Water, there was the handling of Vince Foster's death, there was the health care bill, there was everything.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) And I remember, we did an interview in the middle of all of that and I said to you ...

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

On a very cold January day.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) On a very cold, snowy ...

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

That's right.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) ... January day.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Mm hmm.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) And I said to you then, how did you get in this mess where your whole credibility is being questioned?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Oh, I ask myself that everyday, Barbara, because it's very surprising and confusing to me.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

No, in retrospect, everything that was thrown at me, everything that was said turned out to be without basis in fact. But that didn't help at the time, because we had this out of control, zealous prosecutor who was on a partisan campaign to undermine Bill and me and everyone else. And what I regretted the most was the way so many innocent people were caught up in this. You know, when Bill ran for president, in effect, he put himself into that position, and I gladly went along, because I believed he would be a good president for our country. But so many other people who were totally innocent and just standing by were caught up in this, in this relentless series of investigations. And that, to me, is still a very painful part of that whole experience.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Looking back, we've talked about so many of the difficult things, if I asked to you pick the major accomplishment of those first four years, what comes into your mind?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Turning the economy around. It breaks my heart that in two and a half years we've gone back into huge deficits and debt and jobs are down and people are falling back into poverty. I just find that heartbreaking. But, those first four years were tough but very good for the country.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) The Clintons got out of country more than any first family before them. Together or separately, or with Chelsea, they visited 78 countries during Bill Clinton's presidency. Hillary Clinton made a milestone trip to Beijing where she spoke passionately of women's right in a country where they were extremely limited.

FIRST LADY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON,

UNITED STATES

It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food or drowned or suffocated to their spines broken, simply because they are born girls.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I think that it did make a difference. Part of what I had to learn, and this may sound, again, a little naive and I, I plead to that, is that the First Lady of the United States is judged, assessed, held accountable, not simply or even primarily by what she does, because, of course, it's a role, it's not a job. And it is a, a role that comes with whom you are married to, not what you, yourself, do. And so, therefore, she is judged as much as a symbol as a person.

ANNOUNCER

Sex, lies, and the aftermath of Monica. Hillary Clinton's rage and pain.

BARBARA WALTERS

There is that picture that we all remember of you and the president and Chelsea and the dog, Buddy.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Buddy was the only member of our family who wanted to be with Bill. I think that's fair to say.

ANNOUNCER

"Hillary Clinton's Journey, Public, Private, Personal, with Barbara Walters" continues after this from ABC stations.

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ANNOUNCER

"Hillary Clinton's Journey, Public, Private, Personal," returns. Once again, Barbara Walters.

BARBARA WALTERS

No doubt, the first thing many readers will do when they get Hillary Clinton's new autobiography is turn to the index and look up one name, Monica Lewinsky.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Senator, I have to go back now to perhaps the most difficult time of your life, and it is something that you write about very frankly. Wednesday, January 21st, 1998. You write that your husband woke you up, sat on the edge of the bed and gave you some troubling news. What did he tell you?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Well, he told me there was going to be a newspaper article that alleged that he had some kind of a relationship with a young woman. And he said he was very upset about the article, and he wanted me to know before I got up and read it in the paper myself. And he told me it wasn't true.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Did you believe him?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I did believe him. You know, by that time, Barbara, so many accusations had been made about me that were just extraordinary, outrageous accusations. And I knew they weren't true. And I knew that for whatever reason people felt obligated or compelled to make them. And so, it didn't seem unusual to me that something like this would be said.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) One more false rumor?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

That is what I believed, yes.

video clip of monica lewinsky

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) For seven months before your husband admitted to you what he had done, there were reports and mounting evidence of a relationship. Late night phone calls and logged visits and gifts. Did you just dismiss all of it?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I really didn't think it added up to a lot. You know, I really looked at it from the perspective of, oh, my gosh. You know, one more hurdle to get over, one more problem to deal with. And one of the ways that I kept going all those years in the White House was to, you know, do what I could to try to figure out what was happening, to cross examine my husband to feel like I knew ...

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Which you did. You asked him ...

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Which I did.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) ... again and again?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Absolutely. But then to go on, because, you know, given the atmosphere we had lived in since really 1992, there was so much that literally could have knocked us off kilter. And certainly, I could have found myself just constantly reacting to what was said.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Then on Saturday, August 15th, just as he had done before, your husband woke you up. This time he had something different to say.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

That was probably the worst moment that I can even imagine anyone going through, because what he told me that morning was that he had not leveled with me or anyone else. He had not told me the whole truth about what the relationship was. And I was, I was furious. I was dumbfounded. I was, you know, just beside myself with anger and disappointment. You know, I couldn't imagine how he could have done that to me or to anyone else. And that's what I basically told him on that long-ago morning now.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) You write, "I could hardly breathe. I started crying and yelling at him, 'What are you saying? Why did you lie to me?'" What did your husband say? How did he explain it?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

He just kept saying that he was very sorry, over and over again. And I could tell that he was. But that wasn't much comfort. I was still furious, and stayed furious for quite some time. But he just kept saying over and over again, you know, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Terrible time.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) You told your husband he had to tell Chelsea.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I did.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) What did you say to Chelsea?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Well, I'm going to continue my policy of not talking about conversations with my daughter. But it was a terrible time for all of us, as a family.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) There is that picture that we all remember of you and the president and Chelsea and the dog, Buddy ...

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Right.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) ... walking into the helicopter when you were about to go off on a vacation in Martha's Vineyard, which I'm sure you had no desire to do.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

That's very true. That's very true.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) And you write that Buddy had a special role.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Buddy was the only member of our family who wanted to be with Bill. I think that's fair to say. Imagine going through what is a very personal, private, painful time in front of the world. And you owe obligations to your country that you have to keep fulfilling. People who don't wish America well are looking at this closely. And the president has to continue being president. You have to carry on. And so, you become almost divided because personally, it was excruciatingly difficult. Publicly, we had to carry on.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Then, here you are in Martha's Vineyard in a borrowed house, now, the four of you ...

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Buddy ...

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) ... you, the president, Buddy, yes, and Chelsea. What was that like?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

It was lonely. Very, very difficult. I wasn't talking to my husband. I didn't have anything to say to him. I was so disappointed and angry.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Did you consider separation or divorce?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

It certainly crossed my mind. You know, I wasn't in a position where I've read about some people who, you know, threw their husband's clothes out the window on their lawn. I couldn't do anything like that, although, you know, I, I could have wrung his neck for a million reasons. I thought about everything. And that's all I spent my time doing, thinking hard. There were many people who were very kind to me during that period. And I mentioned some of them in the book, some good old friends but some unexpected people like Walter Cronkite and his wife who called me up and said, we're gonna take you sailing.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I was in no mood to go sailing. He insisted, you've got to come sailing. We want you to come sailing with us. It was such a kind gesture. Getting through those days was very hard. They were long, long days. But the time away helped me enormously.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) I don't think people realize how strong your faith is. It goes all through the book. It must have helped you then.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

It was the primary source of help to me. I was raised with faith, and that's a great gift to give a child, and I have relied on it. I've relied on prayer. I had to reach deep down into my own faith and ask myself, you know, what is it that I thought was right to do? And there were many people who were giving me all kinds of conflicting advice, and I appreciated their interest and their support, but ultimately I had to get on my knees and I had to pray and I had to look for answers that only could come to me. You have to decide to do what you think is right, because your friends won't be there at 3:00 in the morning.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Were you ever able to explain to yourself why your husband did it?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Well, I think I learned a lot, especially during the counseling that we had. The counseling, you know, led me to believe that this was a marriage and a love that I wanted to try to preserve, if it could be. And I was willing to try.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) At one point you describe what your husband had done as a sin of weakness.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

It clearly was. You know, a, a friend who's something of a theologian said to me during this period, that there were two kinds of sins, sins of weakness and sins of malice. And I think that, you know, my husband has so many strengths and is such a fundamentally good person with a good heart, it was a question for me whether this particular wrongdoing, or sin, was something that we could work through together.

ANNOUNCER

When we return, the lingering question of trust.

BARBARA WALTERS

Okay. I have to ask it. What if he does something in the future that is similar?

graphics: hillary clinton's journey: public, private, personal with barbara walters

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graphics: hillary clinton's journey: public, private personal with barbara walters

BARBARA WALTERS

Would she or wouldn't she? That was the question almost everyone was debating as the Monica affair played out before the world. Would Hillary Clinton stay with the man who had betrayed and humiliated her? We know the decision she finally came to, but how did she get there? How did she hold her head up and defend President Clinton in what was surely the most difficult days of her life?

video clip from president clinton's impeachment hearing

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) Then came the impeachment hearings and the Senate trial.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) And you argued in front of Congress, as a matter of fact, that you could divide your feelings about your husband and your feelings about Bill Clinton as president. You said that your husband's actions were deplorable, but they were not impeachable. Is that how you got through all of that horror of the impeachment and the trial and the Starr report and everything else?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I was -caught in a circumstance where this was my husband and I felt that the only people who had a right to judge and hold him accountable for his private behavior were Chelsea and me. Those were the people that he had most betrayed. But he was also my president, and I thought, had done a great job as president despite a constant barrage of efforts to personally destroy him and undermine him. And therefore, I had this unusual experience and this rather unique perspective. So, while I was still somewhat unsure about my marriage and its future, the jury was really out about whether the marriage would survive, whether I wanted it to survive. I was absolutely committed to fighting this terrible misuse of the Constitution and abuse of our legal system, because I thought it was terrible for our country.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) If I asked you straight out, was there and is there a right wing conspiracy to destroy your husband's presidency, would you today say yes?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I would say that there is a very well-financed, right wing network of people, it's not really a conspiracy because it's pretty much out in the light of day, that was after his presidency from the very beginning. Really stopped at nothing, even to the point of perverting the Constitution in order to undermine what he was trying to do for the country.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) In the midst of all this, Hillary Clinton was approached by Democrats to run for a New York Senate seat about to be vacated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

video clip of hillary clinton campaign party

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) Her friends advised her against it. And when you see her on the stump today it's hard to remember how difficult a decision it was. She wasn't even from New York. In November 7th, 2000, she was elected the state's junior Senator. At her side, one of her biggest supporters, Bill Clinton.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) You write that when you ran for the Senate, you became closer to your husband, 'cause you were talking about something else besides your own personal problems. But was there a day, was there a time, when you said, I forgive him? This marriage will go on.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Yes. Yes. It took a long time, but I reached the point where I decided that I was either going to have to forgive and let go of the anger and the disappointment that I had felt or we weren't gonna have a marriage. And both of us worked very, very hard to reach that point.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) What did your husband say when you told him it's okay. We're going to go on?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

He was very relieved and grateful, because that's what he'd been asking for. And it was something that we, you know, had to work toward. I didn't just wake up one day and decide. It took quite some time.

video clip of bill and hillary clinton

BARBARA WALTERS

(Voice Over) Do you trust your husband totally today?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

You know, we've really been tried and tested. And we are at the point now that we're looking forward. I hope that we'll grow old together. That's how I look at our future.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Okay. I have to ask it. What if he does something in the future that is similar?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

You know, that will be between us. And that will be that zone of privacy that I believe in. But right now, I'm very, very hopeful and very committed to our marriage and our relationship.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) There is the big question, what people most want to know and it's this, how could you stay in this marriage? There is something in your book on page 75 that I thought answered the question, and I have underlined it. Would you read it?

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Sure.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) If you memorized it it would be fine.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I, I think, I have not memorized the book.

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) I know you haven't seen this. But ...

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

I'll have, oh. Oh, right. "I'm often asked why Bill and I have stayed together. All I know is that no one understands me better and no one can make me laugh the way Bill does. Even after all these years, he is still the most interesting, energizing and fully alive person I have ever met. Bill Clinton and I started a conversation in the spring of 1971, and more than 30 years later we're still talking."

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Thank you, Senator.

SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON

Thank you.

graphics: hillary clinton's journey: public, private, personal with barbara walters

ANNOUNCER

In a moment, some final thoughts.

commercial break

BARBARA WALTERS

(Off Camera) Hillary Clinton's memoir ends with her last day in the White House. But I dare say, as her journey continues, she'll have plenty of material for a second autobiography. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that she would become not only the first First Lady to be elected Senator, but also the first First Lady to become president. And that raises an intriguing prospect. Bill Clinton as the first president to become a first man or first spouse or whatever? So much has happened to this couple, that it seems anything could happen. Stay tuned. I'm Barbara Walters. For all of us at ABC News, good night.

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