When Hillary Clinton Ran For President ... In 1992

tags: Hillary Clinton, election 2016

Sean Braswell is a Senior Writer at OZY. He has five degrees and writes about history, politics, film, sports, and anything in which he gets to use the word “dystopian.”

This was a watershed moment for the Clinton campaign. A dominant Super Tuesday showing had vaulted their candidate to a formidable lead in the Democratic primary, and the crowd at the celebration in Chicago was eagerly awaiting the individual they hoped would be the next president of the United States. But the person who came forward to seize the microphone was not the Clinton everyone was expecting.

“We believe passionately in this country, and we cannot stand by for ONE MORE YEAR and watch what is happening to it!” a 44-year-old Hillary Clinton proclaimed in a passionate introduction in which she hardly mentioned her husband, who, as one reporter put it, “danced in the background like a prizefighter trying to stay warm.”

The first time Hillary Clinton ran for president was, in fact, 1992. Long before Claire and Frank Underwood conspired to form a conjugal presidential ticket on House of Cards, Hillary and Bill Clinton were test-driving a real-life co-presidency on the campaign trail, the culmination of a 20-year political partnership. Governor Clinton boasted that by voting for him, you could “buy one, get one free.” And some 24 years before she electrified another Super Tuesday crowd with an appeal to “make America whole again,” Hillary Clinton was starting to divide it as no prospective first lady ever had.

The Clinton campaign had devised what they called a “slow build for Hillary” in 1992, a gradual insertion of the Arkansas first lady into the spotlight — and into what they hoped would be the hearts of millions of Americans. That approach went out the window in late January when, weeks before the critical New Hampshire primary, a former cabaret singer named Gennifer Flowers came forward with allegations of an extramarital affair with the governor.

Hillary sprang to action, and, just as she would do again in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, she plucked her husband’s political life from the fire, serving as his character witness, defense counsel, strategist and, most of all, forgiving wife. The Clintons’ interview on 60 Minutes following the Super Bowl that year was, writes Carl Bernstein in his Clinton biography, A Woman in Charge, a “triumph,” one that “probably saved Bill’s candidacy.”

There was no slowing Hillary’s introduction to the American people after that, and even before she grabbed the mic to give her own introduction on Super Tuesday, it was clear she was a driving force behind the campaign — and in a future administration. ...

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