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By Clinton, Bill; Stephanopoulos, George; Clinton, Bill

A detailed examine what it was once like being the president's correct hand guy in the course of a truly tricky time.

summary: a detailed examine what it used to be like being the president's correct hand guy in the course of a really tricky time

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Yes, he was more conservative than I. He supported the death penalty; I was against it. He had supported Bush's Gulf War; I was for extending sanctions. He supported the Nicaraguan contras in the 1980s; I thought this policy was both illegal and wrong. But all of the potential nominees supported the death penalty, and most executions were carried out under state law. As for our foreign-policy differences, what was past was past: By late 1991, Bush had won the Gulf War, Nicaragua had held a free election, and the cold war was over.

I respected that sentiment, envied it, felt slightly shamed by it, but didn't share it. My new work seemed too thrilling to renounce, and I was a natural at the game of politics: at knowing who knew what I needed to know, at absorbing the rhythms of legislative life by walking the halls, at preparing committee hearing questions for my boss that might get picked up by the press, at learning to anticipate his political needs and to use his position to advance my issues too, at succumbing to the lure of the closed room and the subtle power rush that comes from hearing words I wrote come out of someone else's mouth.

Kerrey was announcing the next Monday. My “interview” was an invitation to join the prep for his post-announcement press conference — a “murder board” in which staffers played reporter and peppered the boss with all the tough questions he could expect to hear. I joined Kerrey's core team on the sofa across from his desk. The senator waved an offhand hello, and we began, with me trying to ask questions that were challenging enough to be useful but not so harsh as to seem hostile. After all, I didn't even know the guy.

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