Hillary Clinton Drops 'Rodham' During 2008 White House Bid

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," April 30, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: "Big Politics" now. Don't call her Hillary Rodham Clinton any more. The presidential hopeful is dropping her maiden name while she makes a bid for the White House. She's only going by Hillary Clinton now in her campaign press releases and on her 2008 Web site. No word yet on the reason for the name change.

Rodham, however, will stay in the title of a new unauthorized book on the New York senator coming out this summer. Its author is a man who has a long history of digging up dirt on political figures: Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein. He spent eight years working on it, and from what his publisher is saying it sounds like it is going to be a fascinating read. "Big Story" correspondent Douglas Kennedy is here now with more. Douglas?

DOUGLAS KENNEDY, BIG STORY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, John, Carl says he interviewed over 200 people for this book. He also says he gained access to personal material that reveals Hillary Clinton's private thoughts. Thoughts he says differ greatly from her public words.


KENNEDY (VOICE-OVER): Hillary Clinton made her political bones as an investigative attorney on a Watergate committee. Now the investigative reporter who helped expose that scandal has set his sights on Hillary herself.

Former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein will release the unauthorized biography on June 19. His publisher claims he was given unprecedented access to the personal papers of Diane Blair, a Hillary confidante who was privy to much of the former first lady's private thoughts and who died of lung cancer in 2000. "Bernstein reaches conclusions that stand in opposition to what Senator Clinton has said in the past and has written in the past."

LAURA SCHWARTZ, CLINTON WHITE HOUSE AIDE: If this is true to Diane Blair, I believe it will be positive for Hillary. They have known each other for over 30 years. Diane Blair left this earth tragically too early, but they really had a love for each other. And I really believe that if it is true and in the context of her papers, it will be positive.

KENNEDY: The book is entitled "A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton." And a spokesman for publisher Knopf promises to expose Hillary's involvement in Clinton era scandals like Travelgate and Troopergate. According to Knopf, it will also reveal the inner workings of the Clinton marriage, reportedly dredging up how much Hillary knew about Bill's affair with Arkansas nightclub singer Jennifer Flowers, as well as how she navigated the fallout of her husband's dalliance with Monica Lewinsky. Laura Schwartz worked in the White House during that time.

SCHWARTZ: The American people are smarter than this. They have heard about it; they've been through it. President Clinton has the highest approval ratings he ever has. He weathered those storms. So did Hillary, as a couple, both personally and professionally. I think America is ready to move on and look to the future and that's what Hillary is offering them.

KENNEDY: In recent years, Carl Bernstein has become a voice for liberal causes, including a fierce opposition to the war in Iraq. It's a stance that does not fit with the senator's early support for military force. Still, Schwartz doesn't see Clinton being brought down by one book.

SCHWARTZ: The Republicans may want to use it to energize their base, since they're not that happy about their candidates right now, but I believe the Democrats, even those that don't support Hillary specifically, are going to still stand by her as a Democrat and her record. And how she's addressed her war record in the past is how she still does today. And I admire her for that. I think other people like her sticking to her guns.


KENNEDY: Still, news about the book comes at a bad time for the Clinton campaign, as Illinois Senator Barack Obama continues to keep pace with Clinton on fundraising. And recent polls also show her support slipping to Obama among likely Democratic voters. And we will see, John, in June if this book has any further effect on either of the campaigns.

GIBSON: So why dropping the name Rodham at this point?

KENNEDY: You know, I talked to a spokesperson for the Clinton campaign. They say this is a completely ridiculous story. They say they have not dropped Rodham, that it was dropped from the Web site but that was just somebody calling her Rodham and other people call her Hillary Clinton. And that they have had no meetings about this, that this is just a made-up story.

GIBSON: We shall see. Douglas Kennedy, as always, thank you.

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