RE: Talking points on “60 Minutes”

60 MInutes

TO: Governor Clinton, FROM: Paul and James, RE: Talking points on 60 Minutes, DATE: January 24, 1992


The text for your appearance should be taken from Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms:

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

Make a virtue out of the fact that your relationship has been tested; that you’ve overcome problems and emerged “stronger at the broken places.”


You are not the victim. Maintain the calm and secure demeanor you’ve had throughout this. Reporters and voters are like horses and dogs– they can sense when someone is fearful. This is the opportunity you and Hillary have been waiting for all along; the chance to answer this once and for all and put it behind you. Your self-confidence is contagious. The staff and the press and the voters will all take their cues from you. That’s what leadership is all about.

Unless you’re addicted to blue suits, we’d like you to wear a sweater. (We can’t think of anyone who wears a suit on Super Bowl Sunday.)

Don’t bitch about the press– that’s our job. With the exception of an occasional jab at the tabloids (“They’re folks who say Elvis fathered a child with a nun  who gave the child up to a circus family in Yugoslavia”). Beyond that, don’t complain about how the press has treated you– you can only look like a whiner.

It’s two against one in your favor. We’ll get to Hillary’s role in a little while. For now let us tell you something you already know: Hillary’s the best thing you’ve got going for you. On camera, it’s just you, Hillary, and interviewer Steve Kroft. We like those odds.

60 Minutes is not out to “get” you. A corollary of the “Don’t Be a Victim” rule. What 60 Minutes wants is good TV What we want is a chance to state our case to the public, and to put the thing behind us. The ground rules Georgie negotiated for you make it damn near impossible for them to ambush you.


She is our ace in the hole. Like you, she needs to be calm and confident. Unlike you, she can leap to your defense (and, more importantly, your family’s defense) if Steve goes across the line. Her bona fides as an attorney and children’s advocate make her far more than some wounded little bride, dutifully sticking by you because she’s got nowhere else to go.
She holds the ultimate trump card. At some point she can calmly tell Steve: “The only two people Bill needed to ask for forgiveness are God and me. I believe God has forgiven him; I know I have.”

We’ll go into this in greater detail in the prep sessions, but at some point, when y’all feel like Steve is going too far, prying too much, Hillary needs to interrupt and say: “Look, Steve, we’ve already been more candid, more forthcoming than any political couple in America. We’re not perfect. But we are a family. It’s our relationship; our marriage; our family– and at some point you have to draw a line to protect our family.”

Memorandum to Governor Bill Clinton from James Carville and Paul Begala outlining the talking points for his 1992 60 Minutes interview.

All’s Fair: Love, War, and Running for President, Mary Matalin and James Carville with Peter Knobler, Touchstone and Random House, 1994.

60 Minutes: