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Bill Clinton delivers highly personal speech in support of wife and 'best friend' Hillary

All eyes were on former US president Bill Clinton as he took to the stage at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia on Tuesday night to explain why he believes his wife and "best friend" Hillary Clinton should lead the nation. The 69-year-old captivated the audience with a warm and passionate speech, in which he shared a highly-personal account of their courtship and marriage – beginning with his bold opening line: "In the spring of 1971, I met a girl."

Bill spoke of the moment he first laid eyes on Hillary in a classroom at Yale Law School, recalling that she had "big blonde hair, big glasses, wore no makeup and exuded this sense of strength and self-possession that I found magnetic".


clinton2© Photo: Getty Images

Bill Clinton gave a powerful speech explaining why his wife should lead America

"I followed her out, intending to introduce myself," he said. "I got close enough to touch her back – but I couldn't. Somehow, I knew this wouldn't be just another tap on the shoulders and I might be starting something I couldn't stop."

When he did finally find the courage to approach Hillary, they ended up going for a stroll around campus together. "We've been walking and talking and laughing together ever since," Bill said. "We've done it in good times and bad, through joy and heartbreak."

The former US leader revealed it had taken him three attempts to get Hillary to agree to marry him. During his second proposal, he told Hillary that he "really wanted to marry her", but advised her to turn him down and pursue a career in politics instead.


Bill and Hillary have been married for more than 40 years

For his third and final proposal he surprised her by buying a little red brick house she had once admired in Arkansas.

"We were married in that little house on October the 11th, 1975. I married my best friend," he said. "I was still in awe after more than four years of being around her, at how smart and strong and loving and caring she was, and I really hoped that her choosing me and rejecting my advice to pursue her own career was a decision she would never regret."

chelsea clinton

Chelsea Clinton was in the audience to hear her father's address

Just a few hours before Bill delivered his speech, Hillary became the first woman to be officially nominated for president by a major US party.

Bill's address marked a massive role-reversal for the couple; exactly 20 years earlier, at the 1996 Democratic Convention, Hillary urged Americans to vote for her husband in her first-ever prime-time speech.

Bill was watched from the audience by his daughter Chelsea Clinton and her husband Marc Mezvinsky - Hillary saw the address on TV at the family home in New York.

hillary clinton

Presidential hopeful Hillary later appeared via video link

But she did appear via satellite link, to the sounds of breaking glass disrupting a black and white montage of the 44 male presidents of the United States who have gone before her.

"I can't believe we just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet," she said. "If there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, can I just say, I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next."

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