New York Times
January 20, 2000


Hillary Clinton Answers the Inevitable Personal Queries


By WINNIE HU

Buffalo, NY-- Hillary Rodham Clinton answered questions today about her marriage and personal life for the first time since she began traveling through New York State last summer in pursuit of a seat in the United States Senate.

Responding to a series of questions from a radio talk show host here this morning, the first lady said she had never been unfaithful to President Clinton and had never had a sexual relationship with Vincent W. Foster Jr., a close friend and former deputy White House counsel who committed suicide. She also said she had never used marijuana or cocaine.

Mrs. Clinton had long expected to be asked about her relationship with Mr. Clinton and other personal matters, an aide said, but she seemed taken aback when Tom Bauerle, the host of the interview program on WGR-AM, raised them persistently this morning.

"You're going to hate me," Mr. Bauerle said as he asked if Mrs. Clinton had been "sexually unfaithful" to her husband, specifically with Mr. Foster.

"Well, you know Tom, I do hate you for that," Mrs. Clinton said. "Because you know those kinds of questions are really out of bounds, and everybody who knows me knows the answer to those questions."

"Is the answer no?" pressed Mr. Bauerle.

"Well yes, of course it's no," Mrs. Clinton answered before chiding Mr. Bauerle again for asking "inappropriate" questions.

The interview with Mr. Bauerle came the morning after Mrs. Clinton was asked during an interview on WKBW-TV whether she planned to stay with her husband after they left the White House.

"I certainly intend to spend the rest of my life with him," she said.

In answering the questions, Mrs. Clinton took a different approach from other major candidates for public life, including Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, who is her probable opponent, and Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination. Both Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Bush have refused to give direct answers to most personal questions.

Mrs. Clinton first discussed the state of her marriage in an interview with Talk magazine last summer, and then in Jamestown in a discussion of the interview, but the subject had not been raised since, her aides said. Nonetheless, her advisers said today that she had decided to respond directly when the inevitable subject was brought up.

This afternoon, before an audience of elderly New Yorkers, Mrs. Clinton referred to the questions she had faced earlier in the day.

"Sometimes, in public life, people ask inappropriate, off-the-wall kinds of questions, don't they?" she said. "But I want you to know that none of that is going to deter me from coming back time after time to western New York and being a part of building a better future here."

Mrs. Clinton's advisers, if clearly girded for that kind of question, argued today that the inquiries were far afield of the normal inquiries a candidate faces in a race for the Senate. "She's answered questions that no one has the right to ask," said Howard Wolfson, her press secretary.

Mrs. Clinton also said today that she planned to formally announce her candidacy on Feb. 6 in Westchester County. In a variation of the town-meeting theme, more than 500 "house parties" will be held simultaneously at the homes of her supporters across the state, followed by a driving tour. "I'm trying to reach every New Yorker," Mrs. Clinton said. "I am not writing anybody off."

Copyright 2000 New York Times Company. All rights reserved.