Hillary and Bill: 'Immediate Attraction'

However, her life in Arkansas also contained the seeds of future trouble and headaches — particularly her work for the Rose Law Firm and the Whitewater real estate deal.

Accusations and investigations came much later over those and other activities. At one point, the non-stop probes of the Clintons prompted Hillary to complain of a "vast right-wing conspiracy."

"Now, in retrospect, everything that was thrown at me, everything that was said, turned out to be without basis in fact," she said. "But that didn't help at the time, because we had this out-of-control, zealous prosecutor who was on a partisan campaign to undermine Bill and me and everyone else."

‘I’m Sorry, I’m Sorry, I’m Sorry’

The Arkansas years also contained the seeds of scandal.

She still believes denials by her husband, as president, over a lawsuit by Paula Jones, who claimed he made unwarranted advances toward her in Arkansas years before.

"When her judge threw out her case and said it was without factual or legal merit, I think that about summed it up," Hillary said.

When Bill Clinton ran for president, a woman named Gennifer Flowers claimed she had a 12-year relationship with him in Arkansas. Hillary believed her husband's denials then, too, but eventually he admitted in a court deposition to having a sexual encounter with Flowers.

President Clinton, at first, also denied his dalliance with Lewinsky, and Hillary accepted that, too.

"By that time, Barbara, so many accusations had been made about me that were just extraordinary, outrageous accusations, and I knew they weren't true, and I knew that for whatever reason people felt obligated or compelled to make them," she told Walters. "It didn't seem unusual to me that something like this would be said."

But months later, on Aug. 15, 1998, she said, President Clinton woke her up and finally admitted he'd had a relationship.

"I was furious," she said. "I was dumbfounded, I was … just beside myself with anger and disappointment. You know, I couldn't imagine how he could have done that to me or to anyone else, and that's what I basically told him on that long ago morning.

"He just kept saying that he was very sorry over and over again," she added. "And I could tell that he was, but that wasn't much comfort. I was still furious and stayed furious for quite some time. But he just kept saying over and over again, you know, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.' "

The idea of separation or divorce "certainly crossed my mind," but eventually, she forgave him.

"I think I learned a lot during the counseling that we had," she said. "The counseling … led me to believe that this was a marriage and a love that I wanted to try to preserve if it could be. And I was willing to try."

Debating the Clinton Years

The new book has rekindled the partisan fight over the Clinton presidency.

Laura Ingraham, author of The Hillary Trap, said Clinton's account in her book and during the prime-time interview were not consistent with other accounts of some of the controversies during the Clinton presidency. She pointed to Clinton's account of when she learned about her husband's affair with Monica Lewinsky as an example.

"I think a lot of people watching it, whether they like her or not, didn't add up and that's kind of consistent with how the Clintons move on things."

Nevertheless, Ingraham had grudging respect for Clinton's political abilities.

"She's smart, fascinating, certainly the most interesting Democrat on the scene. All nine Democrats running for president have to be wincing that she's getting so much publicity," she said.

For Sidney Blumenthal, former assistant to President Clinton and author of The Clinton Wars, the release of Clinton's new book has simply sparked another round of unfair accusations against the former first family.

"My view is that they had problems in their marriage that never should have been invaded and turned into a political manner," he said.

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