Historic Whispers: Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky; Hillary Clinton for Senate

10 years ago, Bill and Hillary Clinton were in the spotlight.

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We decided to look back 10 and 20 years to see what our political leaders were up to. In February and early March of 1999, President Bill Clinton survived being booted from office, and White House intern Monica Lewinsky was still hot news. Also in 1999, then first lady Hillary Clinton's Senate run was merely a rumor, and Vice President Al Gore's presidential ambitions were being challenged by Bill Bradley. And 20 years ago, much like now, a new president was getting his feet wet in the White House only then it was George Bush, the first one.

10 years ago . . .

  • Washington Loves Monica. No city can have a love-hate relationship with one of its notorious newsmakers like flip-flop-prone Washington. You'd think the poll-obsessed town would have hissed Monica Lewinsky's return last week to testify anew against poll king President Clinton . Certainly she feared a frosty reception, friends say. But instead, the town handed her a big "Be Mine" candy heart, its Valentine's Day way of saying, "We're sorry." Instead of hostility she's seen elsewhere, Lewinsky was hugged by adoring crowds in the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel. One woman rapped, "You go girl," and another cooed, "Don't let it get you down." Lewinsky blushed and whispered, "Thank you." Some even tried to send sweetheart gifts and bouquets of red roses to her suite. "People came up to her all the time here with gifts and nice things to say. It's sweet," says a friend. (Feb. 15, 1999)
    • Ironic Twist. Newsweek supersleuth Michael Isikoff, the reporter credited with bringing the Monica Lewinsky story to life, has been served with a sweeping subpoena that threatens to stall his tell-all book on the scandal. Whispers confirms that it was obtained by lawyers for Julie Hiatt Steele , indicted by Kenneth Starr for allegedly changing her story on whether President Clinton groped her friend and onetime White House aide Kathleen Willey. You see, Steele told Isikoff that Clinton did but later recanted to the respected scribe and in an affidavit. Now, Isikoff is in a pickle. If he refuses to turn over his magazine and book notes as requested, he could face contempt-of-court charges and possibly jail time. And if he does comply, his book could be delayed or worse: The notes might leak to lesser competitors writing their own tomes on the sexual affairs of the president. Neither Isikoff nor Newsweek would comment on the case. (Feb. 15, 1999)
      • The big tease. Is Hillary Rodham Clinton going to run for the Senate from New York or not? Despite the chatter that she's just "considering it," insiders say the first lady is drooling over the prospect of replacing retiring Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Sure, they say, she can raise the money and probably win, but there are election-law questions about how she could be an active candidate hosting fund-raisers while also acting as first lady. And there's a curveball some are tossing around: She might run for governor in Arkansas in 2002. "Whatever she wants," says her husband. (Feb. 22, 1999)
        • Bradley's rookie jitters. Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Bradley made his first campaign 2000 swing through New Hampshire last week, but his traveling show led some to wonder if he's ready for prime time. In a state dominated by one TV station, WMUR, Bradley's staff barred the ABC affiliate's cameras from a key event. Then, he couldn't be heard at some campaign stops because of poor sound systems. On top of that, he forgot to give a heads up to local Democratic officials when he visited Plymouth, a cardinal sin of retail politics in the homey state hosting the nation's first primary. Finally, the former NBA star shot hoops with kids but missed his first five free throws. And Concord Monitor reporter Pamela Walsh says he pronounced the town "Con Chord" instead of using the locally correct "Con Ked." (Feb. 8, 1999)
          • Waiting for Bush. Texas Gov. George W. Bush's coy approach to the 2000 White House race is frustrating other presidential wannabes, because Republican House members won't give endorsements until Bush makes up his mind. Word is that most House Republicans support Bush because they think he's a winner who can carry them to victory too. The failure to pick up early House endorsements has miffed other GOP candidates, such as former Vice President Dan Quayle, whose Campaign America political action committee doled out cash to some of those very same Republicans now snubbing him. (March 1, 1999)