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DateLine Sunday, 20 January 2008

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10 years on, Hillary Clinton reveals anguish over Lewinsky saga

Hillary Clinton said in an soul baring interview aired Friday she never doubted her husband's Bill Clinton's love for her, despite the former president's infidelity with a White House intern.

Exactly a decade after the Monica Lewinsky affair was first reported, the former first lady candidly revealed how she worked through the inner torment it caused, as she battles Barack Obama for the Democratic White House nomination.

"I really had to dig down deep and think hard about what was right for me, what was right for my family," Clinton said on the Tyra Banks talk show on Fox television.

"I never doubted Bill's love for me, ever, and I never doubted my faith and my commitment to our daughter and our extended family.

"But I had to decide what I ought to do, I think it is so important to be able to hear yourself at a moment when it is hard ... there are so many times when you really have to listen to yourself."

Asked by Banks whether she was embarrassed by the public scrutiny of Clinton's transgression, which eventually led to his impeachment, she said "sure, all of that."

"The momentary feelings -- you are mad, you are really upset, you are disappointed, all of that goes through your mind.

"I have found you really shouldn't make decisions in the heat of those moments.

Clinton also said she was asked by other women "all the time" about what to do with unfaithful husbands.

"I say you have to be true to yourself, no one story is the same as any other story," she said.

"'I don't know your reality. I cannot possibly substitute my judgment for yours, but what I can tell you is you must be true to yourself, you have to do what is right for you.'"

Clinton's comments, some of her most open and public on the Lewinsky episode were broadcast 10 years and one day after news of the affair broke on the Drudge Report website, and shocked the world.

A decade on from the scandal which tainted his legacy, former president Clinton is now his wife's most outspoken campaign surrogate, and a key behind-the-scenes strategist who has recently denounced what he sees as an easy ride being given to Obama in the press.

Despite his impeachment, Clinton left office with approval ratings of around 65 percent, and has since further bolstered his reputation by working for his global foundation, on issues like AIDS relief.

The Lewinsky affair has never been mentioned directly by Clinton's opponents, though some have indirectly made reference to the hyper-partisanship and political scandals of his two terms in office.

Late last year Obama argued it would be better to elect a president who was untainted with the political fights of the past.

"Because of the history of some of the battles that have taken place back in the '90s, it is true that she tends to galvanise the other side," he said on CBS television.

The more than year-long-battle by former president Bill Clinton to stave off attempts by rivals to have him thrown out of office for lying under oath about the affair consumed Washington in a poisonous political storm.

He was acquitted in the Senate after the Republican-led House of Representatives impeached him, but the battle, in which Hillary Clinton played a key role, drained political capital at a key moment of his second term.

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