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Sunday, August 1, 1999 Published at 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK

World: Americas

Hillary: 'We have love'

Mrs Clinton says she and Bill enjoy the intimacies of any married couple

America's First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has broken her silence about her marriage, saying childhood abuse is behind her husband's infidelities.

The First Lady was speaking in an interview to be published this week in Talk, a new US magazine, edited by Tina Brown, former editor of the New Yorker.

[ image:  ]
Mrs Clinton, who is widely expected to run for the US Senate, denied that she had only stuck by the president for her own benefit.

"Everyone has some dysfunction in their families," she said. "You don't walk away if you love someone. You help the person."

The interview marks the first time she has spoken frankly about her marriage since President Clinton was impeached earlier this year.

Caught between two women

"He was so young, barely four, when he was scarred by abuse," said Mrs Clinton, according to a preview of the interview in the Sunday Times newspaper.

[ image: Standing by her man after the 1996 election]
Standing by her man after the 1996 election
"There was terrible conflict between his mother and grandmother. A psychologist told me that being in the middle of a conflict between two women is the worst possible situation. There is always a desire to please each one."

Referring to her husband as a "hard dog to keep on the porch", she said dealing with "bimbo eruptions" had long been part of their marriage.

For 10 years she believed his weakness was under control until the scandal of his sexual relations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky erupted and at one stage threatened the presidency.

"I thought he had conquered it. I thought he understood it, but he didn't go deep enough or work hard enough," she said.

'Sin of weakness'

Mrs Clinton said that the affair with Miss Lewinsky took place after the death of the president's father and their friend Vincent Foster.

[ image:  ]
She said his actions were "a sin of weakness, not a sin of malice".

"He couldn't protect me, so he lied," she said.

Mrs Clinton said she survived the ordeal through "soul-searching, friends, religious faith and long hard discussions".

She likened her allegiance for the president to the love Jesus gave Peter, even after he was betrayed three times by his disciple.

"Life in not a linear progression. It has many paths and challenges; and we need to help one another," she said.

"We have love," she told the interviewer.

Running for the Senate

Asked whether their marriage could survive the strains of her embarking on a solo political career in the Senate, she said it was up to him.

[ image:  ]
"He's responsible for his behaviour whether I'm there or 100 miles away. You have the confrontation with the person, and then it is their responsibility, whether it's gambling, drinking or women. Nobody can do it for you."

Mrs Clinton also spoke of her own feelings about running for a Senate seat in New York.

"Now for the first time I am making my own decisions. I can feel the difference. It is a great relief," she said.

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