EXCLUSIVE: Hillary Clinton on Ronald and Nancy Reagan's Epic Romance: 'It Was So Obvious When You Were Around Both of Them'

by John Boone 3:50 PM PST, March 11, 2016
Playing EXCLUSIVE: Hillary Clinton on Ronald and Nancy Reagan's Epic Romance: 'It Was So Obvious When You Were Around Both of Them'

Hillary Clinton obviously has some insight into what it's like being married to the commander in chief.

Ahead of Nancy Reagan's funeral on Friday, the presidential hopeful opened up to ET about how the former first lady, who died at the age of 94 on March 6, made her relationship with President Ronald Reagan work.

"They just were madly in love, I think, from the very beginning until the very last minute," Clinton told ET at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. "It was so obvious when you were around both of them.

"His sense of humor, his self-confidence, his real affable personality were just so attractive, and her steady support of her husband as our president was so really incredibly inspiring," she added.

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More so than just her epic love story, Clinton remembers the impact Reagan had on the country.

"I remember that behind the scenes, she played a very important role in a lot of the most difficult issues -- whether or not President Reagan should deal with the new president of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev," Clinton revealed. "She encouraged that, he did and I think history is the better for it."

"So, today we honor a woman who really just provided so much to our country, not only in her support and love for her husband, but in her work on Alzheimer's, bringing HIV/AIDS out of the darkness and so much else," she explained. "The war against drugs, her 'Just Say No' campaign. She made a very historic, important set of contributions to our country."

While the late first lady did help advance the country in a number of ways, the mention of HIV and AIDS awareness -- a note Clinton also made during her speech at the funeral -- proved a point of controversy, as LGBT advocates quickly called out the fact that both President Reagan and his wife were slow to ever acknowledge the health crisis.

Shortly afterward, Clinton took to Twitter to apologize:

"While the Reagans were strong advocates for stem cell research and finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease, I misspoke about their record on HIV and AIDS," she tweeted. "For that, I'm sorry."

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On a personal level, the former secretary of state remembers Reagan as "gracious and welcoming."

"I also remember her strength and resolve following the attempted assassination of her husband -- something that was so shocking and so terrible," she added. "She really helped to guide our country through that time."

Photo: Getty Images

Clinton may soon become the first woman to ever hold the seat of president and first lady, but during the service, she sat with current first lady, Michelle Obama, as well as Laura Bush and Rosalynn Carter.

"It's always a privilege for me to be with any of my predecessors. I admire each of these women," she said. "There's no guidebook about how you be a first lady. Everyone really has to try and invent it in a way that suits your interests, your views, how you support the presidency, our country, and there are extraordinary contributions from each of the women I'll be sitting with today at the service."

Now, look back on Reagan's life as one of the most influential first ladies in U.S. history.