What a moment. Former President Bill Clinton shared in his DNC speech on Tuesday, July 26, that he asked his wife, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, to marry him three times before she finally agreed.
“In the spring of 1971, I met a girl!” the former Commander in Chief said on the second night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Bill recalled how they had first met in a class on political and civil rights. At the time, the future Secretary of State had “big blonde hair, big glasses,” he said. “And she exuded this sense of strength and self-possession that was magnetic.”
“After the class, I followed her out — intending to introduce myself,” he continued. The two didn’t connect until weeks later when Hillary acknowledged Bill’s lingering glances at school. “She walked across the library and said, ‘Look. If you’re going to keep staring at me, we might as well introduce ourselves. I’m Hillary Rodham. Who are you?’”
Bill Clinton on asking Hillary to marry him: “The third time was the charm.” #DNCinPHL #Decision2016 https://t.co/MAbGYtm9j1
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 27, 2016
“We’ve been walking and talking and laughing together ever since,” the former POTUS told the crowd. “We’ve done it in good times and bad. In joy and heartbreak. We cried together this morning … Knowing her was one of the greatest gifts Hillary ever gave me.”
While that was the initial story of how they first met, Bill relentlessly pursued Hillary — especially when it came to their futures together.
“Meanwhile, I was trying to convince her to marry me,” he shared Tuesday. The first time he had asked her to marry him, Hillary rejected him. In 1974, he went home while Hillary returned to Massachusetts to continue her work on children’s issues.
Then came the second rejection. “I said, ‘I really want you to marry me, but you shouldn’t do it,’” he noted, acknowledging the significance of her work even then.
Finally, he got her to visit him in Arkansas. Hillary received a job offer and accepted. One day, she and Bill drove past a little brick house. It was 1100 square feet, Bill shared, and Hillary commented at the time: “‘Boy, that’s a pretty house.’”
“So, I took a big chance,” Bill continued. “I bought the house. My mortgage was $175 a month.” And then he told his future wife — who was away at the time of the purchase — “While you were gone, I bought it. You have to marry me now.”
“The third time was the charm,” Bill told the crowd. “I married my best friend. 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 really hoped that her choosing me and rejecting my advice to pursue her own career was a decision she would never regret.”
Along with that love story — sprinkled with statistics and examples proving Hillary’s devotion to public service — he shared the joy of welcoming their one and only daughter, Chelsea Clinton, in 1980. “My daughter had the best mother in the whole world,” he told the crowd as his daughter beamed from her seat.
Then, he shared why he believed she would be an effective president. “She’s the best darn change-maker I ever met in my entire life,” the former U.S. President drove home. “This is a really important point. This is a really important point for you to take out of your convention. If you believe in making change from the bottom up, if you believe the measure of change is how many people lives are bettered.”
“I have lived a full and blessed life,” Clinton said in the concluding moments of his speech. “It really took off when I met and fell in love with that girl in the spring of 1971.”
Watch a snippet of the speech above.