Bill Clinton Assumes First Gentleman Role During DNC Speech, Recalls Having to Propose to Hillary Clinton Three Times

Bill Clinton assumed his potential role as first gentleman — as many in the Twittersphere noted — during his Democratic National Convention speech on Tuesday, July 26. The former president recalled proposing to wife and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton three times before she said yes. 

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Former US president Bill Clinton addresses the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

“In the spring of 1971, I met a girl. The first time I saw her, we were, appropriately enough, in a class on civil rights. She had thick blonde hair, big glasses, wore no makeup and she exuded this sense of strength and self-possession that I found magnetic,” Bill told the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia before going into detail about the beginning of their 40-year marriage.

“I first proposed to her on a trip to Great Britain. The first time she'd ever been overseas, and we were on the shoreline of this wonderful little lake,” Bill, 69, recalled. “I asked her to marry me and she said, ‘I can't do it.’ So in 1974, I went home to teach in law school and Hillary moved to Massachusetts to keep working … on children's issues.”

After discussing Hillary’s work with kids and people with disabilities, Bill recalled the second time he tried to propose to the former secretary of state. 

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Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton at Wellesley College. Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images

“Meanwhile, I was still trying to get her to marry me,” Bill said, laughing. “The second time I tried, I tried a different tact. I said, ‘I really want to you marry me, but you shouldn't do it.’ She said, ‘That's not a very good sales pitch.’ I said, ‘I know most of the young Democrats our age who want to go into politics, they mean well and they speak well, but none of them are as good as you are at actually doing things to make positive changes in people's lives.’ So I suggested she go home to Illinois or move to New York and look for a chance to run for office. She just laughed and said, ‘Are you out of your mind? Nobody would ever vote for me.’”

It wasn’t until he bought their first house that Clinton, 68, finally agreed to marry him.

“One day I was driving her to the airport to fly back to Chicago when we passed this little brick house that had a ‘For Sale’ sign on it and she said, ‘Boy, that's a pretty house.' … So I took a big chance. I bought the house. My mortgage was $175 a month. When she came back, I picked her up and said, ‘Remember that house you liked? … While you were gone, I bought it, you have to marry me now.’ The third time was the charm,” Bill concluded of their engagement story. “We were married — we were married in that little house on October 11th, 1975. I married my best friend.”

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Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and Hillary Clinton at a press conference announcing his candidacy for president of the United States in 1991. Cynthia Johnson/the LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Bill also acknowledged Hillary’s opponent, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“How does this square up with the things that you heard at the Republican convention? What's the difference in what I told you and what they said? How do you square it? You can't. One is real, the other is made up,” Clinton stated. “You just have to decide — you just have to decide which is which, my fellow Americans.”

“She’s a change-maker,” Bill concluded. “That’s what she does.”

Despite Clinton’s romantic love story, Twitter was quick to remind those listening about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

“I’m enjoying this speech, but we all must #RememberLewinsky. #DemsInPhilly #DemConvention,” one user tweeted, while another added: “Bill, if @HillaryClinton is the perfect example of a loving wife and mother why did you cheat on her multiple times? #DemsInPhilly.”

Hillary made history on Tuesday, July 26, after becoming the first woman to secure a presidential nomination for a major party. The former secretary of state became the Democratic presidential nominee after surpassing the required 2,383 delegates needed to secure the nomination. 

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