Madame President Clinton? Chelesa Clinton That Is

By Ed O'Keefe

May 21, 2008 5:45pm

ABC News’ Ed O’Keefe Reports: Perhaps there will be a Madame President Clinton after all. No, not Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.  How about former first daughter and active campaigner Chelsea Clinton?

"If you asked me (if Chelsea would run for office) before Iowa, I would have said, ‘No way. She is too allergic to anything we do.’ But she is really good at it," former President Bill Clinton tells PEOPLE magazine in their latest issue, hitting newsstands Friday.

In the PEOPLE exclusive, Clinton called his daughter’s "emergence" the "second best thing" of the campaign, after his wife’s "ability to endure in the face of all the blows that have been rained on her: outspent, dismissed, denigrated, declared dead…when I met her, I found that in her personal relationships she lacked self-confidence and was painfully shy. She is having more fun now than at the beginning. If you look at her, she seems perfectly relaxed, doesn’t she?"

When asked what he’s learned about Chelsea’s political skills, Clinton told PEOPLE, "It all changed after Iowa. She realized her mother lost Iowa 100 percent because of younger voters. She was upset, bawled, went to her employer and said, ‘Look, you got to let me go or give me an indefinite leave of absence. I’m not letting my mother go down like this.’"

The former president strongly rebuked the suggestion that the Clinton campaign ever played the race card against Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

"I was really hurt about it at first. I am way over being hurt. This was cold-blooded, calculated, manipulated and a revolting strategy," Clinton said, in reference to the accusation that the Clinton camp stoked racial fears during his wife’s bid.

When asked the seemingly open-ended question, "Is there anything you want voters to know?", Clinton replied, "When I was so tired, I either was not as precise as I should have been or I seemed angrier than I would have been. That’s always my mistake. If I am to have any blame, that’s it."

Clinton also said he didn’t know Obama very well but called his wife’s Democratic nomination rival "an immensely talented man" before adding, "I think I understand him. There are enough similarities in our childhoods and things that I think I get what he is doing. But I do think it’s better to have made a lot of decisions before you get to be president."

Telling PEOPLE he speaks to his wife "probably three times a day", Clinton explained, "I got in the habit of not being an e-mailer when I was president because we had Newt Gingrich, who wanted to subpoena every e-mail ever written in the White House."

When asked whether the nomination fight would go all the way to the convention, Clinton replied, "It depends on what happens between now and then. It’s been really funny that when when all she asked was to let all the votes be counted, the response from the other side was to pressure as many superdelegates as possible, in districts mostly that she carried, to come out against her."

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