December 11th, 2007
07:20 AM ET
15 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. Lioness, Washington DC

    "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."


    If Hillary had followed his advice, she would be nowhere today.

    Is Bill trying to say that Hillary is NOT powerful because of him?

    Really, Bill. We know you are famous for stretching the truth, but this stretch has just caused a break!

    December 10, 2007 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  2. Travis, Spokane, WA

    Hey Bill, if she is the most gifted person you ever met, why did you cheat on her once, twice, three, however many times and counting?

    December 10, 2007 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  3. Jen Cedar Iowa

    Oh my gosh, now that really makes me want to vote for Hillary...NOT! It's obvious that these 2 have been scheeming to get into the White House with their little just live-together farce of a marriage for decades, ever since she "chose to not dump him". No wonder they only had 1 child. No wonder he had multiple affairs. No wonder she seems cold hearted unless a camera is on her for a photo-op. These 2 just want to be in the History books as firsts at any cost and they'll step on anyone in order to get there (remember Vince Foster?). The Clinton's had their 8 years, they've been there, done that. It's now time to change dynasty's (Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clintonot) and get some fresh air in the White House. Bill's grossly abused that office enough anyway. The oval office deserves RESPECT!

    December 10, 2007 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  4. Pat Barrett Chandler, AZ

    My wife insists that if you polled Black voters, you would find that they truly believe Bill Clinton is Black. This is based on his behavior (the basis, I always thought, of the phrase, "Bill Clinton was our first Black president."), on his hair, and on Chelsea's appearance. My wife has friends who do believe Bill is Black. A poll in South Caroline might be revealing.

    December 10, 2007 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  5. Tommy, Los Angeles, CA

    In all fairness, he claims that he said this to her when they were first dating. They met at Yale Law. She wasn't coat-tailing anything then, as he wasn't wearing a coat at all.

    December 10, 2007 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  6. Ernie Puto, Rosemont,, IL

    The more Bill talks about the past the more Hillary seems like a part of the past.
    Unfortunately for her, most of us want a change for the future.

    December 10, 2007 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  7. Stating the Obvious in central Illinois

    Actually, Ken, Hillary had a higher salary than Bill for their entire marriage up until he was elected to office. You must not know that she is an attorney and made lots of money on her own and worked quite hard for it.

    December 10, 2007 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  8. Anderson,Nyc,Ny

    So for her is a slogan? Is what people are looking for not what is coming within...Get warned!

    December 10, 2007 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  9. Jeremy, Fulton, GA

    Hilary has been fighting since 1973 OMG, she needs a rest, it ain't working

    December 10, 2007 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  10. Juan, New York, NY

    All these comments will never negate the fact that Bill is the greatest politician of this generation. Move over Regan! Giuliani will never take New York which happens to be the sate that knows him best. Go Hillary!

    December 10, 2007 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  11. steve,nashua,nh

    Alittle too late Bill. You could have come clean alittle more earlier. I am sorry but go and hide.....

    December 10, 2007 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  12. CMS, SoCal

    Spin, spin, spin. Isnt this what we have come to expect from both the Clintons and Bush? Do we need more of it?

    Think about it. Why would you reveal one of the most personal moments of your relationship? Especially of one lover trying to dump the other by giving them the opt-out? Bad, tacky, and not believable except if you are digging for spin on a speech.

    We soooo need a third party to keep the Dims and NeoCons honest.

    December 10, 2007 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  13. Lee Columbus Ohio

    This is awesome story, Bill and Hillary make a good team, We are very lucky to have those people around,,
    Go Hillary!!!!

    December 10, 2007 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  14. Trish San Diego, CA

    "I'm not going to run for anything", wouldn't it be great if she went back to this sentiment?! I'd just love not hearing anything about or from the Clinton's ever again.

    December 10, 2007 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  15. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    People who posted here didn't understand Bill Clinton's real meaning of the speech. you should read Hillary Clinton's LIVING HISTORY and Bill Clinton's MY LIFE. Roger, IL, what grade are you this moment? I think you need help for your illness.

    December 10, 2007 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  16. Rick, El Paso, Texas

    I am not so sure we need another hardheaded President. George W Bush has been hardheaded enough and everyone can see how far hardheadedness has taken this country.

    December 10, 2007 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  17. Kimberly, Antioch CA

    Bill take a nap, go play golf, let your wife be the candidate, even though we understand what a charge you get from the campaign trail.

    But in all honesty Bill, we are seeing more of your mug in the media promoting HRC than Hillary, what is up with that? From my perspective, you have it backwards, unless of course you really are the candidate … in that case the signage needs to change.

    Hillary we are waiting for you to sell us through your own words.

    December 10, 2007 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  18. Tim, El Cerrito Ca

    CNN is managing the postings so that they give a certain view. Not necessarily reality. I tried to post something pro-Hillary and they cut it. But I noticed all the negative comments made it. I'm going to stop reading CNN (like I have Huffington Post and DailyKos) if they don't put some objectivity back into their "reporting." What people don't understand is when you insult the Clintons you also insult a heck a lot of their supporters. Their are a lot of us and we're not going to take this kind of treatment from the press. I have always said why can't the press be in the business of reporting the news instead of trying to create it?

    December 10, 2007 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  19. LL Park, Madison, WI

    Man, Hills, DUMP the loser already!! He's not worth the cash!!

    December 11, 2007 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  20. Pete, Washington

    If Hillary had dumped Bill, she would still be on the Board of Directors at Wal-Marts, collecting $1,500 per meeting and flying around in their corporate jet.

    December 11, 2007 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  21. Allard Teeple, St.Clair Shores, MI

    This is what America needs, Bill has the American Dream, and its what this country needs NOW. When the going gets tough at home she has shown us lets work at making this work. We will just get tougher, and we will be successful GO HILLARY.

    December 11, 2007 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  22. jd, duluth, mn

    hmmm, first she's in charge of the failed healthcare plan, then he says it was his fault, now he says he had her run with it. which is it really?

    December 11, 2007 12:29 am at 12:29 am |

    first of all,,,though i like "the bill"
    he should NEVER support her,,it will only hurt her after the cigar event
    he sure screwed things up
    you can't even help your wife now bill
    leave her alone,,,ALONE

    December 11, 2007 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  24. fvp

    i have heard that before

    i am not good enough for you, leave me....the typical masculine cowardly.
    the rest is history

    enough of the czarist white house. bush and clinton enough! time to go! sorry hillary you are too late. you should have listened to bill.

    December 11, 2007 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  25. Jose Card

    The best Bill can do for Hillary is to release the documents from his administration before the primary.

    Cute little stories of this public couple won't help her elected. We want hard evidence for us to verify her resume. This is about electing the president of the United States, not a celebrity. Bill is no Oprah.

    December 11, 2007 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
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