He Seemed Better
The night before Foster's death, the President called and asked him if he'd like to come over and watch a movie — In the Line of Fire, with Clint Eastwood. "No thanks," Foster said, "I'm already home with Lisa, and I don't think I should head back to the White House." Clinton would speak to Foster again the next day at the Rose Garden ceremony, the last time he'd see his friend alive.
Things had seemed better for Foster lately, his wife recalled. They had spent a fun weekend at the Maryland shore, and Foster had promised to take Lisa on a date Tuesday evening. He also set up a meeting with the president for Wednesday during their conversation Monday night.
It wasn't strange for the President to call Foster with offers to catch a movie; the men had known each other for years. Kindergarten classmates, they had lived only a few houses away in Hope, Ark., before Clinton's family had moved to Hot Springs. As a partner at the Rose Law Firm, Foster had recruited Hillary Clinton to join the firm after working with her on legal aid issues. President Clinton said he called Foster that Monday night simply wanting to speak to his friend, whom he missed. The "rigors" of Washington life, as Clinton described in his memoir My Life, were consuming them all to a degree that they hadn't anticipated.
Yet there also had been victories early in the administration. The evening Foster's death was discovered, President Clinton was the guest on CNN's "Larry King Live" to discuss the appointment of Louis Freeh to run the FBI and the Senate confirmation hearings of Ruth Bader Ginsberg to the Supreme Court. Both developments had been well-received in the press and Clinton was having such a good interview that King asked him to stay on past the scheduled time. Clinton agreed, until one of his aides told him during a commercial break that there was a matter that needed his immediate attention. Upstairs in the Presidential residence, Clinton was told Foster was dead.
Clinton was devastated, he later recalled. "Vince was overwhelmed, exhausted, and vulnerable to attacks by people who didn't play by the same rules he did," Clinton wrote in My Life. Going to Foster's home to console his family later that night, Clinton recalled feeling "sad for all my friends from Arkansas who had come to Washington wanting nothing more than to serve and do good, only to find their every move second-guessed."
Hillary Clinton was in Arkansas after returning from a trip when she was told of her long-time friend's death. She made a tear-filled call to her husband and spoke to several of her staff members who all had known Foster for years. Like everyone else around him, Hillary said she never thought he'd take his own life. "Of a thousand people, of those who might commit suicide, I would never pick Vince," she later told a reporter from the New Yorker magazine.
Yet more than Bill Clinton, it was Vince Foster's relationship with Hillary that fueled many of the most persistent theories about his death. The unexplained semen, blond hair and carpet fibers on his clothing fueled rumors of an affair between Foster and Hillary, an persistent allegation that had dogged them both since their days in Little Rock.
One of the more lurid scenarios played out like this: Foster, who left the White House just after 1 p.m. on July 20, went to an unknown location, perhaps in Virginia, and had sex with a blond woman, possibly Hillary Clinton. While there, he died, was murdered or killed himself, at which point his body was wrapped up in a carpet and placed in Fort Marcy Park to look like a suicide.