Bill Clinton rewrote his speeches to praise Hillary as he begun affair with Monica Lewinsky
Bill Clinton upgraded his wife Hillary from the love of his life to "the love and light of my life" in his speech to the Democratic National Convention - months after he began his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky
By Joanna Walters, New York
6:02PM GMT 29 Mar 2014
President Bill Clinton's guilty conscience over his affair with Monica Lewinsky – and a desire to repair his shattered reputation by using the State of the Union address – set his speechwriters an unenviable task, newly released archive papers reveal.
The former president appeared to be trying to butter up his wife, Hillary Clinton, out of guilt – or perhaps to fool her – before the scandal broke.
And he was determined to try to convince the American public afterwards that he was still of a high moral character.
The latest batch of documents from the Clinton Library covering his presidency in the Nineties was released on Friday afternoon by the National Archives, in Washington.
In all around 30,000 documents will be released under confidentiality time limits. The waves of revelations, though dated, come at an awkward time for Hillary Clinton as she contemplates a presidential run in 2016.
As President Bill Clinton reviewed drafts of a speech he was going to deliver at the Democratic National Convention in 1996, which was being held in Chicago, he tweaked a reference to his wife to make it more glowing.
This was almost 18 months before his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky became public, but several months after it actually began.
Mrs Clinton grew up near Chicago and in a draft of the speech Mr Clinton was going to praise the city for hosting the convention and for giving him "the love of my life, my wife, Hillary".
The latest documents show he crossed out that reference and pencilled in: " ... and most of all for the love and light of my life, Hillary."
The scandal became public in early January 1998, shortly before Mr Clinton was due to give his State of the Union address at the start of his second term.
The address is traditionally a serious speech about lofty ideals, patriotic optimism, national and foreign policy, not party politics or a president's own triumphs and travails.
However, the day after the scandal broke, documents show that Minyon Moore, a top White House adviser, urged a shift in tone of the forthcoming address, based on a conversation with the president that appeared – whether out of desperation or defiance – to be pleading to use the speech for subtle damage control.
"I thought it would be important in the State of the Union that the President was somehow able to articulate a tone that reflected restoring people's faith and trust in him and the Presidency," she wrote in an email to a speech writer.
Having spoken with another aide, Ms Moore relayed that the president "did convey that he wanted us to be mindful of this tone. I have come to understand this in my own humble way as an oblique message of hope rooted in scripture, poetry and vision."
Ms Moore, who is still a close adviser to both Bill and Hillary Clinton, was quick to reassure others in the team there would be no direct mention of the scandal.
"Please recognise, I am in no way suggesting that he use his speech to discuss our current situation head on, I am simply stating we cannot take his supporters for granted nor his detractors and they need to be reassured on several fronts," she wrote.
She suggested that he invoke God "as the underpinning of his policy and thought process".
Mr Clinton made his speech on January 27, 1998 – five days after the Monica Lewinsky affair became public.