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