High Road Wouldn't Work For Hillary

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Could Hillary Clinton run, of all things, on her marriage? If you saw Rudy Giuliani splutter on Monday afternoon as he answered questions about his own troubled union, you might be tempted to think so. Suddenly Giuliani, after waging his genuinely funny trip to Arkansas and basking all week in polls that cast new doubt on Hillarys chances to take the all-important (for her) Manhattan vote, was on the defensive. And the First Ladys buzzy revelations in the maiden "Talk" have her back to the Hillary that brung her: Soft, stoic, wronged but proud. In other words, everything that the brash, prickly, shoot-from-the-hip Giuliani isnt especially when it comes to his wife. It is something of an open secret in the New York media that Giuliani and Donna Hanover are deeply estranged and that Giuliani, the speculation goes, had a long-running affair with a staffer.

TIME White House correspondent Jay Branegan admits theres a twisted logic to it wronged wife lords it over caddish husband but doubts thats where the Clinton camp or New Yorkers -- would want this campaign to go. "Its one thing in a conservative state, or with a conservative candidate, where theres a hypocrisy issue," he says. "But Giuliani hasnt been hurt by this yet, and its not likely that Hillary would be able to do it, even if she were trying." Giuliani doesnt answer questions about his marriage, and rarely got them until Monday. With the exception of the "Talk" blitz, neither, really, does Hillary. If she wants to go toe-to-toe, Tammy Wynette against the Cheatin Heart, Rudy will happily cede the way. Especially since in a brand-new tell-all, "Bill and Hillary: The Marriage," author Christopher Andersen contends that Hillary and Vince Foster were "deeply in love" and had a passionate long-running affair. She didnt mention that one to Tina Brown.