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Q&A with Carl Bernstein

Carl Bernstein, one of America's most famous journalists, tells the life story of Hillary Clinton in "A Woman in Charge." In an interview, he discusses what he learned about the would-be president:

What do you think people would be most surprised to learn about Hillary Clinton from your book?

That she is a very different person and much more complicated than she has portrayed herself or how she is perceived to be. She is very different than the caricatures that are out there.

How so?

From her childhood, which was difficult, with a father who was verbally abusive and humiliated her mother, to the role of religion in her life, which is a fundamental of who she is ... almost everything she wrote about in her autobiography has another dimension that she has left out or obfuscated.

What will be her biggest personal strength in the presidential race?

She has a formidable intelligence. She is running for president with more knowledge about the White House and the presidency than any incoming president has ever had, including former vice presidents. She lived there and she was in essence a copresident for part of the time, although she had great difficulty and failed at many things.

And her biggest personal weakness?

Dealing with the fact that she has had, as I've put it in the book, a truth-telling problem in her public life for many years.

Are there any lessons we can learn from how she handled her husband's infidelity?

It's probably the most unattractive and disturbing aspect of her story…. Many people recognized when Bill was in early 20s that he was one of the great political talents of our era. Only she understood that even with all of that political talent, he would not be politically viable if his sexual compulsions and their effects became known. For the next 25 years she dedicated herself to covering up the effects of that sexual compulsion.… In the process of covering up ... she savaged some of the women and had them investigated.… But one assumes that that's behind her, that the necessity of doing that to make her husband politically viable no longer exists.
– By Randy Dotinga

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