By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated June 05, 2003 11:00 AM

Wednesday’s headline-grabbing revelations from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s upcoming memoir, “Living History,” are being perceived as a savvy means for her to soften her tough image — which in some quarters is being seen as paving the way for her run on the White House.

The memoir — which actually isn’t being published until next week (the juiciest parts were released Wednesday by the Associated Press, which somehow obtained an advance copy) — addresses how Hillary, 55, dealt with her husband’s revelations that he had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Bill told his wife the truth just before he was about to face a grand jury on the matter, Sen. Clinton writes.

Admitting in her book that she “wanted to wring Bill’s neck” has earned Hillary new fans, especially among female voters, reports New York’s Daily News.

“The first rule of politics is to get rid of the questions that linger. Monica Lewinsky is one of those questions. This will put it to rest,” Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf tells the paper, adding, “The book takes her celebrity, humanizes it and makes her more appealing as a person who has pain. While Bill Clinton says, ‘I feel your pain,’ Hillary Clinton says, ‘I know what pain feels like.'”

Republicans strategists concur — though, as expected, begrudgingly.

“A lot of people thought her blaming the ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’ (for the Lewinsky scandal) was part of a failed cover-up,” said GOP strategist Nelson Warfield. “Saying now she didn’t know about Monica lets her get away clean — that she was a deceived wife, not the evil conspirator. And she thrives on being a victim.”

Having her own say, Clinton said to reporters Wednesday: “I am a private person, and so it was difficult to write the book. … There was a lot that I would have preferred stayed private but was made public, which required me to address it in the book.”

Meanwhile, “Living History” climbed to the No. 2 spot on the advance sales list Wednesday in the wake of the hailstorm of publicity. No 1. is still J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” to be published June 21.