Hillary Clinton's 'Living History'

Former First Lady Discusses Memoir, Ambitions in NPR Interview

Listen: Hear Juan Williams' full interview with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

'Living History' by Hillary Rodham Clinton

hide captionHillary Rodham Clinton's Living History has set sales records.

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Former U.S. first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton looks at her husband, President Bill Clinton,

hide captionFormer U.S. first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton looks at her husband, President Bill Clinton, following his address to the National Prayer Breakfast, Feb. 4, 1999.

Reuters Limited
© 2003

As her memoir, Living History, tops the best-seller lists, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton talks with NPR's Juan Williams about her political ambitions, President Bush, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Topic A of all conversations about her book is the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal that nearly brought down Bill Clinton's presidency. Asked why she stood by her man through it all, Mrs. Clinton says, "I have to do what is right for me. I don't ask anyone else to live my life. I have enough trouble doing that," she adds with a laugh.

She says it was a "terrible, painful experience" for her family. "I worked very hard to decide what was right for me and my family. When we entered into counseling, we not only focused on the present, we obviously focused on the past. And we went through whether or not we wanted to remain married."

"This relationship has been tried and tested and it gives me an enormous amount of support and satisfaction and pleasure. As I write about my husband, he is a force of nature. I knew that when I met him. I married him with my eyes open. I knew that this was one of the most energizing, interesting, larger-than-life people I'd ever met. And I can only say that for me, meeting and marrying Bill and choosing to stay married to him when I did were the right choices."

As for claims by pundits that she has written the book to "inoculate" herself from future criticism about the scandals of the Clinton White House, she says: "I have learned, perhaps the hard way... over the years that I just have to do what I think is the right thing for me to do, because there are so many different people with so many different agendas. You couldn't get out of bed in the morning if you were listening to what everybody was saying or assessing."

"Obviously, this book to me is my best attempt to lay out how I viewed the White House years. In some respects, it is a closing of a chapter, and I think that everybody wants to move on."

Though she has said she has no plans to run for president in 2004, Williams asked Mrs. Clinton if she would reconsider should the economy continue to founder. "No, I cannot foresee that. I want to serve out my term. I want to do the best job I can as senator, but I am increasingly speaking out because I am very worried about the direction of our country."

She criticizes the Bush administration for a "power grab on so many fronts" which she calls an attempt to implement a "very radical, right-wing agenda."

Though Mrs. Clinton voted in the Senate to authorize President Bush to go to war in Iraq, she says the jury is "still out" on the veracity of the evidence that the Bush administration presented on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. "I want to know, who were we relying on [for intelligence]? Who were the people giving us this information? Because this administration has taken a very aggressive posture. You know, they talk about preemption. Therefore, I'm concerned that when I'm given information, it is scrubbed and as accurate as it possibly can be, especially when I see an administration that is willing to go a little further perhaps to pursue what they view as appropriate means to achieve ends that I may or may not agree with."

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