Bill Clinton opens up about his relationship with Hillary

The entire Bill Clinton interview will air on Sunday at 9 a.m. on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper.

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Bill Clinton told CNN's Jake Tapper about his relationship with Hillary in an interview set to air Sunday

Clinton says he trusts his wife with his life

Washington CNN  — 

Bill and Hillary Clinton rarely talk about their relationship with one another. But in an interview set to air Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the former president opened up about the woman he said he trusts with his life.

“Whenever I had trouble, she was a rock in our family,” Clinton said during an emotional interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper in Denver.

“I trust her with my life, and have on more than one occasion,” he said, describing his wife as someone who helped him through some of the most trying times of his life.

Bill Clinton described how his wife helped him through years “plagued with self-doubt” in his late 20s and offered him someone to not only lean on, but to help guide him through perilous moments in his career.

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“I was the youngest former governor in American history in 1980 on election night. I got killed in the Reagan landslide,” Clinton remembered. “People I had appointed to office would walk across the street, they were so afraid of the new regime in Arkansas, and would not shake hands with me. My career prospects were not particularly bright.”

“And she never blinked. She just said, ‘Hey. It’ll turn around. I believe in you. You’ve got this,’” he said.

Close friends and aides of the Clintons regularly tell reporters about how close the couple, is despite operating on largely different schedules.

Bill Clinton SOTU quote graphic

“I talk to him on the phone a lot,” Hillary Clinton said in May when a voter asked where her husband was.

Bill and Hillary Clinton were married in 1975 after meeting at Yale University. Their relationship has been publicly tested a number of times, including during Bill Clinton’s public impeachment trial and his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

“The most difficult decisions I have made in my life were to stay married to Bill and to run for the Senate from New York,” Clinton wrote about the Lewinsky affair in “Living History,” her first memoir.

Though the two rarely speak about their relationship, they have opened up in the past.

During Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential run, Bill Clinton told voters in Ames, Iowa, that early in their relationship he told Hillary Clinton to dump him so she could focus on her own political career.

He said he thought she was “the most gifted person I’d ever met” and that it “would be wrong for me to rob her of the chance to be what I thought she should be.”

Bill Clinton said she responded with a laugh and the now false response: “I’m not going to run for anything, I’m too hardheaded.”

The former president said in 2014 that their relationship was, in a way, a 52-year pact.

“We were married a very long time when she was always, in effect, deferring to my political career,” he said. “I told her when she got elected to the Senate from New York that she’d given me 26 years, and so I intended to give her 26 years. Whatever she wanted to do was fine with me. If she wanted to know my opinion, I would tell her, but she had carte blanche to make whatever decisions she wanted, and tell me what I was supposed to do about it.”

Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton is applauded by his wife Hillary on July 1992, before his address to the Women's Caucus of the 1992 Democratic National Convention.

So far, Bill Clinton hasn’t played any role in his wife’s presidential campaign. Although the former commander-in-chief will be with Hillary Clinton when she holds the first rally of her campaign on Saturday, he has yet to travel or raise money for her, something he regularly did in 2008.

Instead, Bill Clinton has been focused on his $2 billion philanthropic enterprise: The Clinton Foundation. His interview with CNN came during the annual meeting of Clinton Global Initiative America in Denver, where foundation supporters made nearly 80 pledges to address a wide array of domestic issues.

Bill Clinton reflected on their 40 years of marriage in his interview with Tapper.

“We built a life together based on the things we cared about, the things that we loved,” he said. “We were blessed with a daughter who turned out pretty well I would say. We have been very blessed.”

The entire Bill Clinton interview will air on Sunday at 9 a.m. on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper.