Brokaw Offers Gauzy Portrait of Hillary’s ‘Long Journey’ With ‘Soul Mate’ Bill

Introducing a glowing profile of Hillary Clinton’s political career on Thursdays’s NBC Today, special correspondent Tom Brokaw fondly recalled the first time he heard of the Clintons: “40 years ago, when I was doing the Today show, I began to hear about this bright young couple down in Arkansas. Everybody was talking about maybe he'll run for president some day and everybody said he’s got this terrific wife.”

The fawning report began: “Hillary's long journey had an unlikely beginning. She was a Goldwater Girl in a Republican family. By college, she was out front in feminine and anti-war politics. Her commencement speech against the war was the beginning of her public life.” Brokaw hailed: “At Yale Law School, she met an equally ambitious politically passionate soul mate. It was the beginning of a storied and stormy relationship.”

While the former NBC Nightly News anchor briefly glossed over numerous Clinton scandals, he used the incidents to heap further praise:

At Bill’s side when he ran for the gold and we all met Gennifer Flowers. Bill survived, with Hillary's help....The Clintons were like the homecoming queen and king. There were some very tough times in the White House – the suicide of Vince Foster, the collapse of her health care plan, and Monica. Hillary was humiliated but she didn't cut and run. The two Hillarys, tough in public, but warm, loyal to friends and others in private.

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Noting her unsuccessful presidential run in 2008, Brokaw declared: “President Obama, however, gave her a high-profile consolation prize, Secretary of State. And she became a non-stop globetrotter.” He then scolded the GOP for holding her accountable for Benghazi: “Republicans made it her fault. Even though their own investigations couldn't quite close the deal.”

Wrapping up the Clinton love letter, Brokaw proclaimed: “And now, she is the first woman to be an election away from the White House, with a former president at her side. A long journey with a long way to go.”

Following the taped segment, Brokaw tried to vouch for her personality:

I think of all of the people I've known in public life, there’s no greater contrast between the public Hillary that you see on stage and the private one. Private one, she's very attentive, she’s got a wicked sense of humor, and she seems to remember everything she's ever learned about your family or friends and cares about them. So it's this enormous contrast.

He then marveled at the line-up of speakers at the Democratic National Convention: “You had on stage the first African-American president, the first woman to be nominated for president, and watching was her husband, who had been President of the United States. We've never had a trifecta like that before.”

Co-host Savannah Guthrie chimed in: “That's why people are saying it's a history-making night, a history-making week for sure.”

Here is a full transcript of the July 28 segment

8:20 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Well, NBC News special correspondent Tom Brokaw is here in Philadelphia, is this right, covering your 24th national convention?

TOM BROKAW. It is. Yeah, it is. And I find that hard to believe, but it's also been a very memorable run. 1968 was my first one, been to every one since then. Back here in Philadelphia a few years ago, and I was sitting at this chair for a long time during all that period five years ago. In 19 –  40 years ago, when I was doing the Today show, I began to hear about this bright young couple down in Arkansas. Everybody was talking about maybe he'll run for president some day and everybody said he’s got this terrific wife. Well, it was Bill and Hillary Clinton. That’s when I got to know them. And of course, there have been a lot of twists and turns since I first heard about them.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: History & Hillary; Tom Brokaw on Clinton’s 30 Years in the Spotlight]

She has been a very public figure for more than 30 years, with Bill and without him. And everyone has an opinion. Hillary's long journey had an unlikely beginning. She was a Goldwater Girl in a Republican family. By college, she was out front in feminine and anti-war politics. Her commencement speech against the war was the beginning of her public life.

HILLARY RODHAM [MAY 31, 1969]: The challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible, possible.

BROKAW: At Yale Law School, she met an equally ambitious politically passionate soul mate. It was the beginning of a storied and stormy relationship. Public in good times and bad. Hillary went home with Bill to Arkansas, but they had bigger plans. Lawyer, Walmart board member, first lady of Arkansas.

HILLARY CLINTON [1992]: The next President of the United States.

BROKAW: At Bill’s side when he ran for the gold and we all met Gennifer Flowers. Bill survived, with Hillary's help.

CLINTON [60 MINUTES, 1992]: I’m sitting here because I love him and I respect him.

BROKAW: I covered their arrival in Washington with the Gores. It was a new generation. The Clintons were like the homecoming queen and king. There were some very tough times in the White House – the suicide of Vince Foster, the collapse of her health care plan, and Monica. Hillary was humiliated but she didn't cut and run. The two Hillarys, tough in public, but warm, loyal to friends and others in private.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL [D-MO]: She wants to not be seen as vulnerable, and frankly, maybe what America needs right now is to understand that this is a vulnerable woman who cares deeply about her family and their family.

BROKAW: Hillary adopted New York and easily won a U.S. Senate seat.

HILLARY CLINTON: I’m running for president to solve our problems.

BROKAW: It was the perfect launching pad for president. But it was a newcomer's turn. President Obama, however, gave her a high-profile consolation prize, Secretary of State. And she became a non-stop globetrotter. But Benghazi, Libya, Republicans made it her fault. Even though their own investigations couldn't quite close the deal.

And now, she is the first woman to be an election away from the White House, with a former president at her side. A long journey with a long way to go.

I think of all of the people I've known in public life, there’s no greater contrast between the public Hillary that you see on stage and the private one. Private one she's very attentive, she’s got a wicked sense of humor, and she seems to remember everything she's ever learned about your family or friends and cares about them. So it's this enormous contrast.

And by the way, I just want to make an observation about last night. You had on stage the first African-American president, the first woman to be nominated for president, and watching was her husband, who had been President of the United States. We've never had a trifecta like that before.

GUTHRIE: That's why people are saying it's a history-making night, a history-making week for sure. Tom, thank you very much.

BROKAW: Glad to be here.

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