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With red lips, blue eyes and big blond hair, a former newscaster and lounge singer named Gennifer Flowers had talked to a supermarket tabloid about how she had been presidential candidate Bill Clinton’s mistress for 12 years.

It was up to his wife to fix it.

So on Sunday, January 26, 1992, on 60 Minutes on CBS, in a time slot immediately following the Super Bowl, Hillary Clinton responded fiercely to questions about her husband’s reported infidelity and the nature of their marriage—by invoking the name of a country music star.

“You know, I’m not sitting here, some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette,” she said, wearing gold earrings and a black headband, perched next to him on a couch in a hotel suite in Boston and waving her clenched right hand. “I’m sitting here because I love him, and I respect him, and I honor what he’s been through and what we’ve been through together. And you know, if that’s not enough for people, then heck—don’t vote for him.”

This was America’s introduction to Hillary Clinton, and it worked—for her husband.

What she did on 60 Minutes saved his candidacy and his political career.

Most agree he would not have become president without it.

For her, however, it came at a steep cost.

In 10 minutes of television, she projected a set of complicated, even conflicting images—forthright but defensive, feisty but dutiful—triggering the mix of skeptical, antagonistic feelings that have defined her with a share of the American public ever since.


WATCH: Jim on History, Clinton’s On 60 Minutes:



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