Carl Bernstein Paints an Unflattering Picture of Clinton Marriage

Book claims Hillary Clinton sought office partly because of Bill's affairs.

ByKate Snow

May 27, 2007 — -- It took Hillary Clinton more than two years to decide to marry Bill Clinton, according to a new book written by Carl Bernstein, in part because she worried that he would be unfaithful to her. And she entered the marriage knowing that, in Bernstein's words, "he was beyond her control when it came to other women."

The book,"A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton," isn't slated for official release until June 5, but ABC News was able to purchase a copy this weekend at a Washington-area bookstore.

Bernstein writes that Bill Clinton's extramarital affairs began in their courtship. But perhaps none was more potent, according to Bernstein, than the former president's relationship with a wealthy Arkansas divorcee -- Marilyn Jo Jenkins.

Jenkins' name is not new to Clinton followers. Her relationship with the former president was mentioned in at least two other books written in the 1990s. Indeed, members of Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign team have sought to downplay the book as "old news." However, Bernstein offers some new details about the struggles caused by that affair.

Bernstein calls Jenkins "Hillary's worst nightmare" and writes that Bill Clinton thought he was in love with the energy company marketing manager in the late 1980s.

According to Bernstein, then-Gov. Clinton wanted to end his marriage and sought advice about what the political consequences would be from "fellow governors whose marriages had deteriorated."

But Bernstein quotes Bill Clinton's former chief of staff, Betsey Wright, saying Hillary refused to give her husband a pass out of the marriage. One of Hillary Clinton's closest friends, Diane Blair, is also quoted as saying Hillary was concerned that she did not have much money and wouldn't do well as a single parent.

Around the same time, when Bill Clinton had not yet decided if he would seek a second term as governor of Arkansas, Bernstein says Hillary Clinton briefly considered running for governor herself.

"The few people who knew about that possibility said the idea was largely born of anger and hurt," Bernstein writes.

Ultimately, of course, Bill Clinton did run for another term as governor. And Bernstein writes that both he and Hillary committed at that point to saving their marriage.Ironically, according to Bernstein, Hillary Clinton thought winning the White House would help temper her husband's tendency to stray.

Bernstein writes that Hillary Clinton told Diane Blair "her husband's sexual compulsions" would be tempered "by the office itself; if not by the grandeur of the presidency, then by the fact that he would be locked up in the White House, a golden cage with the nosiest press corps in the world constantly on the prowl."

Bernstein describes Hillary Clinton's decision to run for U.S. Senate from New York in 2000 as an attempt to seek redemption --"hers, her husband's, and the Clinton presidency's."

In the end, Bernstein says repeatedly, Hillary married Bill "for love." He describes the senator as a tolerant woman, willing to weather transgressions for the greater good of their marriage, their child and their political future.

"There could be no question that Hillary was Bill's fiercest defender in preventing his other women from causing trouble. Always," Bernstein writes. "It was as if she, much more than he, better understood the danger -- to him, to her, to Bill's future, and to their dream."

Bernstein says Hillary Clinton once told Wright, "There are worse things than infidelity."

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