A Political Pair

updated 07/19/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/19/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

FOR HILLARY CLINTON'S LITTLE BROTHER Tony Rodham, the real campaign began just after the Democratic National Convention last July. While his brother-in-law, Bill Clinton, was off wooing American voters, Tony-was courting Nicole Boxer, daughter of California's soon-to-be-elected senator, Barbara Boxer. His efforts paid off. In early June, Rodham, 38, and Boxer, 25, announced they would be married next spring—maybe on the South Lawn of the White House. "We're negotiating," says Tony.

Theirs was no easy courtship. After being introduced to Tony at a postconvention party, Nicole headed off to Indiana to work as a producers' assistant on TriStar's upcoming football drama Rudy. Tony, a former Miami private investigator, "kind of tracked me down using his private-eye background," she says. Then, to make her pay attention, he gave her a treasured possession: his sapphire-studded, gold golf-ball pendant. That way, explains Tony, "She'd have to see me again to get it back to me." Don't laugh, he says. "It worked, didn't it?"

The "actually dating" part of their romance didn't begin until the Inauguration. After that, it was a whirlwind hundred days. In February, Tony, who now works as a field director for the Democratic National Committee, took Nicole back to Little Rock to meet his ailing father, Hugh, who died last April. "It was the first time I ever brought a girl home that Pop-Pop approved of," says Tony.

Tony, 13 years Nicole's senior, has taken up Rollerblading and gone to his first Grateful Dead concert. For her part, Nicole has become accustomed to the Casual ways of the Clinton clan. "The first Sunday Tony brought me over for dinner," she says, "everyone was sitting around playing some board game. That was my introduction to the While House." Not that Nicole is all that formal herself. Tony has an engagement ring on order, but, she says, "I told him I'd be happy with one from a Cracker Jack box."

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