Tracing Hillary Clinton's '35 Years' of Experience

When Hillary Clinton makes a campaign appearance, she almost certainly will highlight her experience — 35 years, she says — as one of her qualifications for president.

But Clinton is a little less specific when it comes to describing what exactly she was doing in the years before she became a U.S. senator in 2001.

Suzanne Goldenberg is author of a new book about Clinton, Madam President, and a U.S. correspondent for the British newspaper The Guardian.

Goldenberg says it's difficult to see how Clinton calculates her 35 years of public service, since her fulltime job for many years was working for a corporate law firm in Arkansas.

From 1977 to 1993 — with intermittent breaks to campaign for her husband and after the birth of her daughter, Chelsea — Clinton worked at Arkansas' largest law firm, the Rose Law Firm, where she was also its first female partner.

At the same time, Goldenberg says that "every candidate on the campaign trail is going to embellish their record."

"John Edwards is 54 years old and we hear him talking about 54 years working for the little people and for poor people," she says.

Perhaps Clinton does "embellish" slightly more than other people, Goldenberg says.

"But I think this is what politicians do. They play up the good parts of their resume and play down the bits they'd rather people forgot about," she says.

Goldenberg talks to Michele Norris about Clinton's legal work representing corporate clients such as Wal-Mart and Tyson Foods, and her experience working for the Children's Defense Fund and on Capitol Hill building the case against Richard Nixon.

She also describes how after the failure of her foray into the health care reform debate during her husband's presidency, she temporarily retreated from an active role in policymaking and assumed more traditional responsibilities.

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