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Hillary Clinton, 26 January 1992
"I'm not sitting here like some little woman, standing by my man like Tammy Wynette"
 real 28k

Philippa Thomas reports from Washington
"1992 was a triumph for both the Clintons"
 real 56k

Hillary Clinton
"I am proud of his leadership"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 25 October, 2000, 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK
Hillary Clinton: A political fighter

Hillary Rodham Clinton is the first US president's wife to run for elected office, though her decision to run for a Senate seat in New York came as little surprise.

She is a highly ambitious and intelligent lawyer and has always been determined to make a political mark in her own right.

When she arrived at the White House with Bill Clinton in 1993, it was trumpeted as a true political partnership.

That personal and political partnership was put to the test by the Lewinsky scandal that almost forced Mr Clinton out of office. But Mrs Clinton emerged looking strong - perhaps too strong for the liking of some voters who see her as cold and calculating.

Strong personality

Hillary Rodham was raised by parents who were determined to ensure she was one of life's fighters.

Hillary Clinton
Born Chicago, 1947
Educated Yale
Married Bill Clinton 1975
1993 Chaired health task force
Overseas women's rights campaigning
She once described her late father, Hugh, a trainer of naval recruits during World War Two, as "tough-minded", a characteristic which got her to Yale Law School in 1969 where she later met Bill Clinton.

Following their marriage in 1975, the couple embarked on their political careers in Arkansas where Mr Clinton became state governor.

Their daughter Chelsea, often seen as the counter-balance between the two, was born in 1980.

His wife concentrated on law and went on to serve on the American Bar Association's commission on women in the profession.

Clinton family after 1996 victorious presidential election
Political dedication: Hillary sacrificed career for Bill
But although this is the first time Mrs Clinton has run for office, she entered political life before marrying the future president.

In 1972 she campaigned for Democrat presidential candidate George McGovern and went on to plan her husband's various campaigns.

While the rumours and scandals have buffeted her and her husband, she has long been seen as the iron will behind a vacillating president.

Public life, public failure?

After his victory in 1992, President Clinton appointed his wife to come up with health care reforms which would provide all Americans with insurance.

However, Republicans and the medical industry criticised the scheme and her appointment and the reforms failed get through Congress.

The following year Hillary Clinton withdrew from public life.

Hillary and Bill Clinton in January 1992
January 1992: "I love him and I respect him"
There was further controversy when she later became embroiled in the Whitewater property investigation.

But while she went before a federal grand jury, Mrs Clinton soon returned to campaigning and began promoting health and women's welfare issues throughout the developing world.

Lewinsky affair

Her personal and political life reached breaking point in August 1998 when the president admitted that he did indeed have an "inappropriate relationship" with Monica Lewinsky.

I survived through soul-searching, friends, religious faith and long, hard discussions

Hillary Clinton on the Lewinsky scandal
But in an interview with Talk magazine, she denied having stood by him for personal political gain.

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

She said her husband was a "hard dog to keep on the porch" and that dealing with "bimbo eruptions" had long been part of their marriage.

Her husband had been emotionally abused as a child, she said, and he was guilty of "sin of weakness, not a sin of malice".

The president has been at pains to stress his love for his wife since the scandal - knowing she had lived through the Gennifer Flowers scandal years earlier.

In interviews he has paid rich tribute to his wife, describing her as his intellectual equal.

In an interview with the Times newspaper, Betsy Wright, Mr Clinton's former chief of staff in Arkansas, said: "That man would lie down and kill himself before he would let her leave.

Gossip has also focused on Mrs Clinton's private life. One recent book claimed she had a passionate affair with Vince Foster, the Little Rock lawyer who joined the Clintons in the White House before he committed suicide in 1995.

She chose to ignore the publication.

Senate battle

When Hillary Clinton first announced her Senate campaign she was up against the abrasive New York Mayor, Rudolph Guiliani. It looked a tough fight: critics described Mrs Clinton as a "carpetbagger", with no credible links to New York.

She was damaged early in the campaign when she offended some Jewish voters during a trip to the Middle East, by embracing Suha Arafat after a speech in which the wife of the Palestinian leader accused Israel of poisoning Palestinian territories.

Mrs Clinton later issued a statement criticising Mrs Arafat for making inflammatory remarks.

But her campaign strengthened when Mr Guiliani pulled out after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Even so, the race between Mrs Clinton and her Republican opponent Rick Lazio became a close and bitter race. Analysts say the election could go either way, athough October polls have given Mrs Clinton a steady lead.

But whatever happens, Mrs Clinton will be prepared.

"There hasn't been anybody whose life has been picked apart and distorted as much as mine," she was reported to have said early in the campaign.

"I don't think New York can be any worse."

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See also:

22 Oct 00 | Americas
Hillary eyes New York victory
09 Oct 00 | Americas
Hillary, Lazio in second face off
24 Nov 99 | Americas
First Lady confirms Senate ambition
01 Aug 99 | Americas
Hillary: 'We have love'
23 Oct 99 | Americas
Hillary in New York pizza row
28 Sep 99 | Americas
Hillary steps out of Bill's shadow
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