Hillary Clinton has been "a rock" in the Clinton family, Bill Clinton tells CNN
in a sometimes emotional interview set to air Sunday, describing her as the person who helped him through the most trying times of his life.
"I trust her with my life, and have on more than one occasion," the former president told CNN's Jake Tapper for the "State of the Union" interview. "Whenever I had trouble, she was a rock in our family."
Her support began years ago, even before he became a public figure, said Clinton, describing how she helped him in his late 20s, when he was "plagued with self-doubt."
And that support continued as he entered public life, Clinton told Tapper.
"I was the youngest former governor in American history in 1980 on election night. I got killed in the Reagan landslide," Clinton said. "People I had appointed to office would walk across the street, they were so afraid of the new regime in Arkansas, and would not shake hands with me.
"My career prospects were not particularly bright," he said.
"And she never blinked. She just said, 'Hey. It'll turn around. I believe in you. You've got this,'" he recalled.
The couple was married in 1975, and over the years their relationship has struggled, especially during Bill Clinton's impeachment trial and the affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Hillary Clinton even wrote in her first memoir, "Living History," that the "most difficult decisions I have made in my life were to stay married to Bill and to run for the Senate from New York."
But now, her husband tells Tapper that they have been "blessed" during their 40 years of marriage.
"We built a life together based on the things we cared about, the things that we loved," he said. "We were blessed with a daughter who turned out pretty well, I would say. We have been very blessed."
Clinton also opened up about his relationship with his wife during her last presidential campaign, even though the topic is not one either half of the power couple usually addresses.
In 2008, he told Ames, Iowa, voters that early in their relationship, he told his wife — "the most gifted person I'd ever met" — that she should drop him to focus on her own political career.
Clinton said he told her it would be "wrong for me to rob her of the chance to be what I thought she should be," and she responded that "I'm not going to run for anything, I'm too hardheaded."
And last year, Clinton told the Los Angeles Times
that their relationship was a "52-year pact."
"We were married a very long time when she was always, in effect, deferring to my political career," he said. "I told her when she got elected to the Senate from New York that she'd given me 26 years, and so I intended to give her 26 years.
"Whatever she wanted to do was fine with me. If she wanted to know my opinion, I would tell her, but she had carte blanche to make whatever decisions she wanted, and tell me what I was supposed to do about it."
CNN reports that Clinton has not traveled with his wife or raised money for her, like he did in 2008, but instead has remained focused on the Clinton Foundation.
Tapper's full interview with Clinton will be aired at 9 a.m. EST Sunday.
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