For two decades, Bill and Hillary Clinton have dominated Democratic politics, and their public relationship has fascinated Americans of every political persuasion.
The couple first took the national spotlight in January 1992, in a "60 Minutes" interview after the Super Bowl. Their segment became one of the most watched news programs in history, as then-Governor Bill Clinton, running for the Democratic nomination, and his wife defended their relationship against charges of infidelity. Gennifer Flowers claimed that she and President Clinton carried on a 12-year affair. When correspondent Steve Kroft described the Clintons' marriage as an "arrangement," Bill fired back.
"You’re looking at two people who love each other," he said. "This is not an arrangement or an understanding. This is a marriage. That’s a very different thing."
Hillary echoed that sentiment. "You know, I’m not sitting here like some little woman, standing by my man like Tammy Wynette. I’m sitting here because I love him, and I respect him, and I honor what he’s been through and what we’ve been through together. And, you know, if that’s not enough for people, then heck! Don’t vote for him."
Bill Clinton campaigned on the promise of a co-presidency with his wife, "two for the price of one." But the dynamics of their relationship nearly ruined Clinton's presidency, says Duke University historian William Chafe. In his new book, "Bill and Hillary: The Politics of the Personal," Chafe reveals the internal workings of their marriage, including Bill's infidelity and Hillary's fierce resolve to stand by him.
Chafe explains: "Once the pendulum had swung to her side, he was powerless to speak…As long as she could threaten the peace of their mutual accommodation, he would go along, repressing his own better judgment in order to hold together their partnership."