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Clinton Says Attacks Won't Deter Her

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(April 12) - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says the pain and turmoil of her White House years don't discourage her in the least as she wages a campaign she hopes will bring her back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

"I've decided this country is worth fighting for," she said, adding she is "distraught" about the last six years under President Bush .

In a half-hour interview this week at the home of the Army's 10th Mountain Division, Clinton discussed her revised approach to health care reform and her daughter's view of her presidential aspirations. She also talked of why, after eight tumultuous years as first lady, she wants to return to the White House.

Contemplating possible slings and arrows on the campaign trail, she said, "So what, people are going to say something bad about me?" She burst out laughing. "I mean really. I mean look. I understand how contentious American politics is. And why? Because there are big things at stake."

Clinton said she doesn't take attacks personally or lie awake fretting. "I'm sorry to tell you this, I do not -- Maybe because I've been at it for so long. And because I understand it's a perverse form of flattery. If people didn't take you seriously, they wouldn't be attacking you."

Clinton dismissed the idea that decades of alternating Bush and Clinton presidencies is unhealthy. "What's healthy for the country is to have a candidate who brings experience and qualifications that could really be put to work for the country, and that's what I'm offering," she said. "It's a free country. People can vote for me or vote for somebody else."

The ambitious health care reform plan Clinton oversaw in 1993-'94 drew much fire. In the interview, she declined to say whether she'll offer a plan for universal coverage in her campaign.

She is now working with other lawmakers to expand coverage for children and says that first step should happen "before I'm president." The next step, she said, could be electronic medical records, for a $100 billion savings that could be used to help insure the uninsured.

Clinton also declined to say whether her daughter, Chelsea, 27, would take a campaign role.

"She's one of my strongest supporters and a great adviser. But she has her own life and I respect her privacy," Clinton said. So Chelsea won't be involved? "We'll have to see about that," she said.

Entry #1,076

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