An open letter to Hillary Clinton
In your new book, “Living History,” you correctly note that when you asked me to help you and Bill avert defeat in the congressional election of 1994 I was reluctant to do so. But then you assert, incorrectly, that my reluctance stemmed from difficulties in working with your staff. You even misquote me as telling you: “I don’t like the way I was treated, Hillary. People were so mean to me.”
As you know, I never said anything of the sort. I had, in fact, no experience in dealing with either your staff or the President’s at that point, and had not yet met Leon Panetta or George Stephanopoulos. My prior dealing with Harold Ickes had been twenty-five years earlier.
The real reason I was reluctant was that Bill Clinton had tried to beat me up in May of 1990 as he, you, Gloria Cabe, and I were together in the Arkansas governor’s mansion. At the time, Bill was worried that he was falling behind his democratic primary opponent and verbally assaulted me for not giving his campaign the time he felt it deserved. Offended by his harsh tone, I turned and stalked out of the room.
Bill ran after me, tackled me, threw me to the floor of the kitchen in the mansion and cocked his fist back to punch me. You grabbed his arm and, yelling at him to stop and get control of himself, pulled him off me. Then you walked me around the grounds of the mansion in the minutes after, with your arm around me, saying, “He only does that to people he loves.”
I continued to work for Bill since I felt a responsibility to do so until Election Day in 1990. But our relationship was never close and never the same. After the 1990 campaign we parted ways as a direct result of the altercation.
When the story threatened to surface during the 1992 campaign, you told me to “say it never happened.”
That, and not the invented conversation in your memoir, was the reason that I was reluctant to work for Bill again.