Bill Clinton told an audience in Mason City on Wednesday night that if you really want to understand Hillary Clinton, his wife and Democratic presidential candidate, then you should look first at her Methodist faith.
The comment comes as Clinton has started to talk about her faith more openly on the campaign trail, something she does not do much of.
“In the Methodist church, the founder John Wesley, said we live under a simple obligation to do all the good we can, in whatever ways we can, to all the people we can, for as long as we can,” said the former president while stumping for his wife. “She lived by that.”
Bill Clinton went on to describe how faith shaped Hillary Clinton’s life, especially the experiences facilitated by Done Jones, her young minister in Park Ridge, Illinois. Jones took Clinton to meet Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1962, something Bill Clinton called a “seminal” moment in his wife’s life.
King’s “favorite hymn was a classic old spiritual called ‘If I Can Help Somebody’ and I won’t bore you will all the voices but the last line is If I can help someone as I travel on, then my living would not be in vain,” Bill Clinton said. “That is what she has lived by.”
He added, “It took my breath away when I realized 45 years ago that is really what motivates her.”
Hillary Clinton’s faith is a deeply personal but rarely discussed area of the candidate’s life. Clinton’s friends and confidants describe the former first lady as a devout Methodist whose faith guides much of what she does. But that side of her is rarely on public display.
Clinton discussed her faith on Tuesday in Iowa after a mother of three asked Clinton how she squares some of her political beliefs – namely on abortion – with her faith.
“It is very important to me. I am a person of faith. I am Christian. I am a Methodist,” Clinton said, adding later that she believes “there are many different ways of exercising your faith, but I do believe that in many areas judgment should be left to God.”
After the former president’s event, Bill Clinton told CNN that while his wife isn’t an angry person, she is angry enough about certain issues to succeed in a 2016 race that has become defined by voter anger.
“It is important if you are in this position to not have feelings about that except that you are trying to help people,” Bill Clinton said, adding that she is angry that people are not economically sound and that families still suffer with drug addiction.
“That’s what drives her,” Bill Clinton said. “Her instinct is not who can I attack, who can I blame – not that you shouldn’t ask people to take responsibly which I think is great – but immediate instinct is what can I do to make it better and that’s what we need.”