Bill Clinton shares intimate details about his four-decades-long marriage to Hillary Clinton in a new podcast interview

By Tierney McAfee
Updated September 30, 2016 12:20 PM
Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty

Presidents – and presidential candidates – are people too, says Bill Clinton, and he’s opening up about that more personal side of wife Hillary Clinton in a new interview.

During a recording of Hillary Clinton’s official campaign podcast, With Her, in Cleveland on Tuesday – just one day after the first presidential debate – the former president shared intimate details about the “joys and blessings” he’s witnessed throughout their 40-year marriage, while also touching on her “heartbreaks and disappointment.”

Asked how Hillary Clinton has grown over the years, her husband replied, “In [Ernest] Hemingway’s immortal words: In some way or another, life breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. And I think she has literally spent a lifetime dealing with not only her joys and her blessings, but also heartbreaks and disappointment, sometimes unfair treatment.”

“She is more reticent than some people are in this highly revelatory culture we seem to live in, to discuss things that she thinks are better kept within the family or close circle of friends,” he added. “But I’ve watched her, she’s just grown into it.”

The former president also spoke about how the Democratic candidate remains strong and focused in the face of intense scrutiny by counting the many blessings in her life.

“Look at our blessings,” he said. “We’ve been together for 40 years-plus, through thick and thin. We have a daughter we’re proud of and we adore. We’re fortunate to have a son-in-law who’s a world-class human being, and two beautiful grandchildren and family and close friends we love.”

He also says his wife knows that even as she runs for the nation’s highest office, she has to take time out to focus on those blessings and to “rest your brain and your spirit” at the end of a long, grueling day.

Bill Clinton explains that after they come home after a long day on the campaign trail, “If I’ve got something really on my mind, sometimes she says, ‘No, we’re not going to talk about politics. No more politics tonight. Nothing. Let’s talk about our grandkids, let’s talk about something that’s going on in our local community.”

He says she sometimes will simply say, “No. I need a break. Tonight you’re my husband, not my political consultant or my campaigner in chief,” he adds.

“Presidents are people too. And candidates are people too. They do need time to be who they are, beyond running for office or holding office. You want people to stay as balanced as possible. So when she tells me, ‘We don’t need to talk about this right now,’ I listen because I know she’s right because sometimes you gotta rest your brain and your spirit. And the thing that makes her great, I believe, based on what first attracted me the first time I saw her and before she ever said a word to me, is this passionate, focused intensity.”

But, he adds, “I think people would be surprised by the kind of things she really likes … her endless fascination with what I would call positive reality TV shows. I don’t know how many nights I’ve had to watch that home repair show.”

Antiques Roadshow is her favorite of the bunch, he says.

“I’m always kidding with her, ‘How can you watch this? Like, I feel like I’m the political equivalent of the Antiques Roadshow,’ ” he says with a laugh. “But she loves that.”