The e-mails come by the hundreds: prayers and Chinese proverbs, quotes and jokes, sent by Hillary Clinton's friends, intended to inspire and to buoy her through the tough times. The aphorisms are part of a collection Clinton has maintained all her life, starting in a scrapbook when she was a little girl, later as clippings in a binder she toted around as First Lady and, more recently, on her BlackBerry. On the eve of the Pennsylvania primary, Clinton offered NEWSWEEK'S Karen Breslau an exclusive look at her collection, and she also opened up about issues of trustworthiness, getting emotional—and why she's staying in the race. Excerpts:
I hear your binder just went digital. Any examples of things people have sent to you that you ' d like to share?
Here's one I love from Proverbs: "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her task … She is clothed with dignity and strength; she can laugh at the days to come." [Laughs] I just thought that was so wonderful ... Oh, of course, then everybody is constantly sending me the Churchill quote: [Imitating a deep, gravelly voice] "Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense." I must have gotten a hundred copies of this one. It was so amazing, they came in a rush after I won Ohio and Texas and Senator Obama's supporters started saying I should get out.
You have any good jokes?
Here's a good one. Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand: her opponents have observed that in the event of a nuclear war, the two things that will emerge from the rubble are the cockroaches and Helen Clark. [Laughs]
You ' ve written about keeping a quote from Lee Atwater, the Republican consultant, saying on his deathbed that he wished he ' d lived his life with more compassion. Any other unlikely candidates who ' ve offered solace? Anything from Newt Gingrich saying " Keep your chin up, kid " ?
Uh, no. But I have actually had a good relationship with him ... [Reading from BlackBerry] "Dance as though no one is watching you, love as though you've never been hurt, sing as though no one can hear you." That's the only way I can sing! ... Someone sent this to me after [someone posted a video of] me singing the national anthem on YouTube.
There has been tension reported in your campaign between " humanizing " you versus proving your mettle as commander in chief. Are you satisfied at this point with the fuel mixture or is it something you still are tinkering with?
I never saw that as a big contretemps. I'm the first woman with a serious chance to do this. We're making this up as we go. Nobody has any kind of formula or equation. We trigger expectations and reactions that are constantly causing us to re-evaluate what do people think and how do we best respond.
People say they admire your tenacity, but at some point it gets to the question: " But can she win? Look at the math. " At what point does tenacity become denial?
But why don't people ask [Obama] the same question? Neither of us can win without superdelegates. Neither of us can possibly get to the nomination unless something totally unforeseen happens, without doing what we are doing now. Why should I leave? I don't understand that reasoning. I've won the states we have to win in the fall. I have a broader coalition that we have to build on in order to win in November. I believe my experience is much better suited to go toe-to-toe with John McCain. And it's up to voters, and to people who get selected as delegates, however that process occurs, to make that determination. But I'm not going to short-circuit the process.
We ' ve seen in a number of polls recently the issue of trustworthiness, that you are consistently ranked lower than your rival. Our most recent NEWSWEEK Poll shows the same trend. And what do you do about it? It ' s not just Bosnia, it ' s broader.
If you have been subjected to incredible criticism, some of it justified—most of it not, in my opinion—for as long as I have, there is a lot of psychological research which is very clear that if someone says something negative about a person, even if it is disproved, there is a residue of perception that's left. I think it's a miracle that I'm doing as well as I am, that I'm in a close competition to be the Democratic nominee, that most people, if given the time, sort through all this stuff about me and they conclude that they can count on me to fight for them.
What do you carry with you from that experience when you grew emotional in New Hampshire? Have there been times where you find yourself going, " Oh, I ' m doing too much policy, turn back to the heart " ?
The idea that there is the me who cares about policy and then there's the "real me" just totally misunderstands me. I have worked my entire life to change and improve conditions for people. That's very important to me, because that's how I judge myself. I'm not asking someone to marry me. I'm asking them to vote for me ... So, yes, I give the same speeches, talk about the same solutions over and over again, because I want someone to walk away from [a Clinton] event saying, "You know, I really liked that idea about taking the $55 billion away from special interests and I think she'll do it," instead of, "Aaaah, what a wonderful speech. And what does it mean? I don't know, but it sure made me feel good."