We have known Hillary Clinton both professionally and personally for close to 20 years, dating back to before President Bill Clinton's first trip to Africa in 1998 -- a trip that they both acknowledge changed their lives, and gave considerable meaning to their post White House years and to the activities of the Clinton Foundation. Joe, serving as the National Security Council Senior Director for African Affairs, was instrumental in arranging that historic visit.
Our history became entwined with Hillary further after Valerie's identity as a CIA officer was deliberately exposed, ruining her ability to serve our country. That criminal act was taken in retribution for Joe's article in the New York Times in which he explained he had discovered no basis for the Bush administration's justification for the Iraq War that Saddam Hussein was seeking yellowcake uranium to develop a nuclear weapon. When we were subjected to a vicious character assassination campaign orchestrated by senior White House officials and championed by their allies in the right-wing echo chamber, Hillary reached out to us. Her counsel during that tumultuous period was as timely as it was wise. She reminded us that the personal attacks on us were politically designed to deflect attention from the Bush administration's falsehoods to the American public about the threat of Saddam's supposed "smoking gun in the shape of a mushroom cloud." She urged us to remain strong in the face of their tactics of personal destruction. Smear campaigns should not trump the facts in the public square. Few people knew as well as she did how searing these attacks could be, but if we stayed strong, she urged, we would be vindicated. We did, and she was correct. A decade later, all but the most self-deluded ideologues understand that the Bush administration misled the American people into a war of choice that still scars us.
President Barack Obama chose her as his Secretary of State in his first term because he recognized from the relationship they developed during the 2008 campaign for the Democratic nomination that she was smart, tough and indefatigable. Hillary proved herself to be from the very beginning a trusted confidante and extraordinarily capable leader of his foreign policy team. Her commitment to service was once again on display, as it had been in Arkansas as a policy innovator, as the First Lady who bravely put women's rights on the international agenda, and as the hard-working U.S. senator from New York.
As Secretary of State, Hillary's tireless diplomacy helped repair our nation's international reputation after the damage caused by the disastrous policies of the Bush administration. But she did far more than help restore American prestige. Among her many achievements was forging the coalition, which included both Russia and China that imposed draconian economic sanctions on Iran. The results have now become clear. Even harsh critics of the administration have acknowledged how favorable the agreement to deny Iran nuclear weapons capability is for our national interests. It was Hillary's resolute diplomacy that set the table for this potential historic breakthrough. There is no more critical national security priority than nuclear nonproliferation and when this framework agreement is finalized, the world will be a vastly safer place. We appreciate the importance of her accomplishment as national security professionals who have worked for decades on these issues -- Joe as a Foreign Service officer who personally faced down Saddam Hussein before the Gulf War and Valerie as a CIA expert on weapons of mass destruction.
After President Obama's election in 2008, there was a widespread feeling that it would mark an end to unseemly partisan nastiness. We were subjected to its rancor, and we hoped, too. Unfortunately, it soon became obvious that the wish for a post-partisan presidency will always be fanciful so long as the radical right-wing, backed with the immense financial resources of special interests, will target and demonize anyone who disagrees with it. They tried to do it to President Clinton, and they have tried to do the same thing to President Obama in the most vulgar and bigoted ways. They will do it again to whoever is the Democratic candidate. Hillary knows that. But she also knows that if we are ever to make this a better nation and society, we must stand up for true American values for progress against these destructive forces. She is strong enough to do so. And as president she will provide the seasoned, smart and tough leadership the United States will need to face the challenges of this rapidly changing world. She is by far the most qualified and trustworthy person to protect our national security interests and to create a better American future. Hillary stood with us, as she has stood with so many over the years, and we are proud to stand with her for our country now.