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August 24, 2007

Hillary Clinton Unplugged

Senator Clinton found time for a casual chat with Marie Claire's editor-in-chief, Joanna Coles, about motherhood, the juggle, abortion, celeb culture, and her ace-in-the-hole husband.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Photo Credit: Diana H. Walker

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IT'S UNMISTAKABLE: From her buoyant campaign appearances to her feisty showing in the Democratic debates across the country, there's a markedly more polished, confident Hillary on the campaign trail than the occasionally tentative, defensive one who won a Senate seat in 2000. At a fund-raising breakfast for 500 in New York City last June, wearing a black pantsuit, a frosting-pink scarf, and a silver flower pin on her jacket, Clinton bounded to the stage like a motivational speaker, hugging supporters like Vera Wang and Billie Jean King along the way, flashing a smile that was both winning and fierce. Judging from her performance at the breakfast, it appeared she had learned plenty about playing the room — including the strategic use of self-deprecation and personal anecdote. Praising Title IX and the sports scholarships it has made possible for young women, she cracked, "Though I'm not sure how much good that particular provision [would have] done for me personally."

Several hours after the breakfast, Clinton repaired to the library on the 44th floor of the Hearst Tower while her Secret Service detail, personal aide, and scheduler waited outside. Then she took a seat on the cream-colored couch, crossed her legs neatly at the ankles, and gamely submitted to questions from Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles.

Joanna Coles: The debate in New Hampshire last night, a fund-raising breakfast in New York today, back to DC by dinner — how do you keep your energy up? Why are your eyes so bright?
Hillary Clinton: The first lesson I've learned is that no matter what you do in your life, you have to figure out your own internal rhythms — I mean, what works for you doesn't necessarily work for your friend. I try to schedule at least one day a week to catch up, to feel like I'm breathing again. I take vitamins. I have a treadmill and weights at home, but I prefer walking outside, just kind of breathing and letting it all go. I try to read for pleasure whenever I can — it's a great way just to shut it off for a while so your brain doesn't get fried.

JC: What have you read lately?
HC: Doris Kearns Goodwin's book about President Lincoln, Team of Rivals, is a brilliant description of how Lincoln put together the Cabinet that operated during the Civil War by including people who had run against him. I loved Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Eat Pray Love, passed to me by a friend. And Acts of Faith, by Philip Caputo, about an assortment of people in the Sudan and all of the challenges they face trying to help the Sudanese people withstand the brutality of the government in Khartoum.

JC: If you were president, how would you deal with Darfur?
HC: I would have put on sanctions that were much tougher much earlier. I think we should consider a no-fly zone, because the Sudanese air force provides air cover and bombs a lot of the villages in conjunction with the Janjaweed raids on these villages. And then we've got to do more to build up the African Union presence and give the logistical support it needs.

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