December 11th, 2007
07:20 AM ET
12 years ago

Bill Clinton: I once told Hillary to dump me

Bill Clinton campaigned in Ames, Iowa Monday.

AMES, Iowa (CNN) - Bill Clinton said Monday he was so impressed by his wife when they first started dating, he once tried to convince her she should dump him and focus on a political career of her own.

Speaking on the Iowa campaign trail Monday, the former president said he thought at the time that Hillary Clinton was “the most gifted person I’d ever met” and that “would be wrong for me to rob her of the chance to be what I thought she should be."

"She laughed at me, and said, 'First I love you and, second, I'm not going to run for anything, I'm too hardheaded,’” he said.

The former president is a major asset on the campaign trail. A Mason-Dixon poll released Sunday found that he garners equal or higher favorability ratings from Democratic primary voters than any other candidate, including his wife.

Clinton commended his party’s current crop of candidates: “as a lifelong Democrat, I love this election.”

“They’re fighting a little now, they ought to, there are choices to be made,” he added. “We are fortunate we have good choices. Let’s just stipulate that these are good people."

He repeatedly called his wife "an agent of change" - a theme her campaign is stressing this week with its latest ad, "New Beginning." The message comes on the heels of recent polls that show most Iowa Democrats say they are looking for change - and cite Clinton's primary season rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, as the candidate most likely to bring it about.

Clinton ticked through his wife’s battle scars and accomplishments ranging from education reform in Arkansas to his administration’s failed efforts at health care reform. “I asked her to do the hardest thing of all, health care and we got whipped,” he said of the current New York senator. “When she got beat, she did what she’s always done … she didn’t fold her tent.”

Ultimately, the former president said his wife’s vision for governing made her ready to lead in this moment. “It’s one thing to have good intentions and another thing altogether to change people’s lives,” he said. “Who would be the best president? I think you know the answer.”

–CNN's Sasha Johnson and Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Iowa
soundoff (198 Responses)
  1. Portland OR

    Bill no help.. sorry I like you but we need someone who WILL make a differance.

    December 11, 2007 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  2. Osman Manchester NH

    Hillary is all a talk she can con not be trusted and she won't bring any change. in addition to that if she got the nominee she will loos on Mit Ramney if he got the nominee on his party side.
    on Hillary is just gonna be 4 or 8 yeasrs of a watst of time rathe than moving america forward and bringing the change we really needed.

    December 11, 2007 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. demwit

    But didn't that poll just say that most Hillary supporters are really voting for Bill??

    December 11, 2007 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Welcome back Slick Willie

    December 11, 2007 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. Tom, Sugar Land, TX

    So the writing was on the wall back then...sounds like Bill's way of telling Hillary to scram. Only with a politician's spin.

    December 11, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. x X

    Less distraction and disinfo please!

    How about a story about all the military secrets and technology the Clintons sold to Communist China?!?!

    December 11, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  7. B

    Hillary is smart, strong and ready. Those who can't see it are blind! We need her international crediblity to regain the respect we have lost from our friends and enemies alike. Her advocacy on domestic issues – education, healthcare, social security – tells you what is in her heart. We are a complex society with complex problems. She will take time and care finding solutions that may take more than a 30 second sound bite to explain. I trust her judgment and her intellect.

    December 11, 2007 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. Steve in SC

    To all who are jumping on the president Clinton led a great ecomont bandwagon need to remeber that it was a repub led Congress that keep spending in check. If Hillary care has passed it would have been bye-bye "surplus".

    December 11, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  9. Green Pary Member, New York, NY


    Thoughtful post and interesting to read your actual experience, which I haven't read from other posters.

    I'm leaning to Hillary though I will continue to research.

    I too, have had things like medical insurance go away for me because I can't maintain the payments and still pay back debts incurred from being unemployed last year but not eligible for unemployment.

    I too wish for a more stable economy for Americans and for someone who can effectively conduct foreign policy. Bush in my opinion has been a disaster in that area.

    I think that the assumption that marriages should end because of infidelity is wrong. Infidelity is human nature and has always existed. So has marriage.

    I do agree that this particular story is pretty unfortunate for Hillary's campaign. I don't know what he was thinking when he gave this speech, it's terrible. Maybe his writer was on strike.

    As far as what Hillary has done in legislation, it's easy to say "what has she done" without actually doing any research on it.

    As far as Giuliani is concerned, everything he says is about the New York Yankees or 9/11. Talk about hardheaded, he's much worse in that category.

    I'm a New Yorker who cautiously likes Hillary and does not trust Giuliani.

    I also probably will have the luxury of voting for a third-party candidate that aligns more closely to my beliefs.

    At least in this election there isn't someone I truly despise (like, for instance, Bush) in either the Democrats or Republicans.

    It will be a very interesting to see what happens.

    December 11, 2007 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  10. Steve in SC

    Let me correct my post of bad spelling :

    To all who are jumping on the president Clinton led a great economic bandwagon need to remember that it was a repub led Congress that kept spending in check. If Hillary care had passed it would have been bye-bye "surplus".

    Posted By Steve in SC : December 11, 2007 2:11 pm

    December 11, 2007 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  11. pat huntington ny

    To all who are jumping on the president Clinton led a great economic bandwagon need to remember that it was a repub led Congress that kept spending in check. If Hillary care had passed it would have been bye-bye "surplus".

    Posted By Steve in SC : December 11, 2007 2:11 pm

    Posted By Steve in SC : December 11, 2007 2:20 pm
    Your post couldn't be anymore wrong. Do you recall that Clinton was constantly battling with the repukes over the budget because of all the defecit spending they wanted, so much, that Clinton grew a pair and actually let the Federal Gov't shut down until the repukes ala Gingrinch gave him a budget bill that was actually balanced and fair.

    December 11, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  12. N, Saint Louis, MO

    Sorry Mr. President, as much as we love you, your wife does not represnt the change our country needs. Obama does. He is the real deal!

    December 11, 2007 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  13. teddy orlando fl

    Now i hope no one relly belives Hillay is an agent of change if you do your nuts. 27 days until the Clinton total melt down. Obama 08 – the real candidate to bring change

    December 11, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  14. Dan (Baltimore, MD)

    So, did all of America, Bill. Then we realized that your marriage was just a tactic in the game of politics and we figured it didn't really matter if she stayed or not.

    December 11, 2007 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  15. Jose Card

    Some people think that Obama has no chance facing big pharmaceuticals, while Hillary is the woman to do it.

    Hillary surely knows how to mingle with lobbyists hired by big corporations. She called these lobbyists "Good Americans". They donated lots of money to her war chest.

    The admiration for Hillary's staying in the marriage after Bill's lifetime of infidelity does not qualify Hillary for the presidential duties. After looking at her Senate records, I am still waiting for Bill's release of his documents for us to verify her qualifications. Bill is not at all interested in the release so he is distracting all of us with his cute stories. He is making fools out of us. He is the most disgraceful former president in history.

    December 12, 2007 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  16. Izzy, Queens New York

    President Bill Clinton is trying hard to see to it that his wife wins the nomination. That's fair enough. The questions are: Is this good for the Democratic Party, the US and the world? The answer is no. Hillary is venomously divisive and inspires so much hatred that she would energize the Republicans to come out and vote against her in their droves. She is very vindictive, calculative and lacks cor convictions. That is why she keeps triangulating and never takes a firm position on any issue.

    The best candidate is Barack Obama. Simple. Anybody who thinks Hillary's victory is a FAIT ACCOMPLI needs to look at the facts. She will scare off independents and she is not progressive enough. Edwards is a good man but he lacks the organizational prowess.

    Caucus for Barack. Vote for Barack.

    December 12, 2007 05:27 am at 5:27 am |
  17. Mike, TX

    Obama can not bring change alone. So please stop blabbering on about how HE can do it. He would NEVER be able to control congress. He is way too inexperienced. He can't even handle his wife playing the race card when he said his campaign wouldn't.

    NObama '08 (or ever)

    December 12, 2007 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  18. Joe, Florida

    People will say what they, but we have already what it means to have the Clintons in the White House, 8 YEARS OF GOOD ECONOMY AND PROPER HANDLING OF THIS COUNTRY.

    December 12, 2007 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. Eric, from THE Republic of Texas

    "It's not you, it's me..."


    December 12, 2007 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  20. Barbara WInters. Charlotte, NC

    Hillary will heal this country. God Bless Her! Clinton 2008!

    December 12, 2007 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  21. Carl, Dallas, TX

    He asked Hilary to give him a Hot Carl... NICE!

    oh wait.. DUMP me... not DUMP ON ME

    December 12, 2007 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  22. Kristy Sanborn, Buckhorn, Mo.

    Tim, El Cerrito Ca says "What people don't understand is when you insult the clintons you also insult a heck a lot (his grammer, not mine) of their supporters."
    Its our fault you support the clintons, or that a 'heck a lot' do?
    I don't think so, you have as much right as anyone else to support who they believe in, and if people don't care for the clintons, then I see you take it personally.
    Thats your problem, not ours who don't support them.
    What the clintons and their supporters fail to realize that not much is being said about hillary being the Commander in Chief of our Military, even by the media, if she is elected.
    Its almost like she can run and get elected President of our country, and maybe Americans will forget that she will also be the Commander of our Military.
    It just seems to me that our Military members may have a vote in who is elected their Commander in Chief also, and they don't post much, but they vote.
    And they need another strong leader, not one that changes and flip flops back and forth, as she did in the issue of this war from day one till present.
    If you back her, fine, but there are others voting besides you and her supporters.

    December 13, 2007 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  23. Beth & Jeff Chicago, IL HILLARY IN 2008


    She's the only one who can actually clean up the mess left by the GOP - NOT dreamer boy!!

    Or vote Biden or Richardson b/c God save our country if the newbie gets elected = who isn't even wise enough to realize what he DOESN'T KNOW yet; let alone play pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey in the Oval Office! He should have waited until 2012 or 2016. He's only 47, but he's such a baby that he's demanding to be King now 😦 Sadly the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Senator Obama is certainly NOT!!!! AND Oprah should stick with her own life and hawking her Book Club (which she can't even get right all the time either).


    December 19, 2007 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
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