Hillary Clinton's Campaign: A Look Back

Starting in September 2006 and all the way through May of this year, "Nightline" was granted extraordinary access to Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and her historic candidacy for president in a series of five extensive interviews. As the race for the Democratic nomination winds down, we thought it only fitting to share with you some of the most revealing moments from our time with her.

Fall 2006: Contemplating a run for the White House

In the fall of 2006, "Nightline" met up with the junior senator from New York in a tiny upstate New York town. Six years in, she was having a ball, even winning over many upstate voters who traditionally vote Republican.

"I think she's fabulous," said one local Clinton supporter. "I think she's more beautiful in person.  But more than her beauty, she's genuine and very intelligent and well-spoken."  This supporter was also a Republican.

It was this kind of support that made many think she just might have a clear shot at the presidency.  After all those years standing at Bill's side, Clinton seemed to have finally found her own groove. 

"I love it.  I absolutely love it," she said.  "When I started seven years ago, in July of '99, I really wasn't sure that I would like it for me.

"You know, I think that when you've been in the public eye as long as I have, and you are basically viewed through so many different lenses, and there has been kind of a cottage industry in trying to turn me into a caricature of who I am," she said, "I have loved the opportunity in the last seven years in New York for people to get to know me."

If running for president was soon to be in her future, she was too disciplined to say so, at least yet.

"I am not thinking about that at all," she said.  "You know, I know everybody else is.  And lots of other people are saying, 'Oh, she is, she is.'  But the truth is, I don't think about it.  I haven't made any decision about it because that's not how I think and how I work."

Back in those days, the main worry was that her husband would upstage her.

And yet, many came to feel that was how her presidential campaign got off on the wrong foot -- a sense of inevitability, of coronation, that she began running for the general election before winning the nomination.

Iraq would be another problem.

"Well, given this administration's track record, they have been nothing but a series of mistakes," she said. "So, even if one could say they made mistakes and they shouldn't have done it, right now, we're in a series of challenging decisions."

By refusing to say her vote to authorize the Iraq War was a mistake, Clinton made many voters feel she was stubborn and unwilling to admit she was wrong.  It was a position that may have served her well in the general election, but in the Democratic primary race, it opened a door that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., walked right through. 

For months after declaring her candidacy, Clinton was, indeed, the indisputable front-runner.  She concentrated on the big states while Obama blanketed rural Iowa, painting Clinton as the consummate Washington insider -- wrong on the war, divisive and inauthentic.  

December 2007: Finding Her Voice

By the time "Nightline" sat down with her again, it was December 2007, just before the Iowa caucuses.  It was clear Clinton knew she was in trouble.  She began blitzing the state by helicopter in an attempt to court the rural counties Obama had long ago visited.  

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