tv The Presidency First Ladies in Their Own Words - Hillary Clinton CSPAN July 1, 2022 10:26am-11:13am EDT
ladies dot c-span.org. i think most americans know that issues like the family and medical leave act that senator dodd has championed. that's a family value issue tha >> i think most americans know that the issues like the family and medical leave act that senator todd has championed, that is a family value issue that president bush is about to veto again. a good job as a family value issue, decent health care so you don't have to worry about what happens to the members of your family, that is a family value issue. family values are very important, but we need to look at what is going on in the lives of families of america, and come up with positive solutions to help them. >> you have taken a lot of hits during this campaign, -- at one point the campaign was reduced to comparing chocolate chip cookie recipes, there was a lot of attacks that the republican convention, what
does this say to you about society's willingness to accept a more aggressive role by women in politics and society? >> oh, i don't think that is really an issue. i think that what you see is a desperate political strategy to distract people and divert them from what is really at stake in this election. it will move in whatever direction they think will help them, it doesn't matter whether the truth is there or not. i think that assad, and it is disillusioning, but that is expected. >> to mind telling us about the attacks on you or your husband. >> now, i just have to feel anything about attacks that are not true, and that are so cynically motivated as those were coming out of the republican convention. it is sad though that when we have so many problems in this country, the other party would spend days on distractions, diversions, and truth, instead of all of us doing what we could do to help solve those problems. that is what i want this
election to be about. >> that was hillary clinton -- got a package deal, by one, get one free. as first lady, hillary clinton spoke for the administration on a ride range of issues, child development, women's rights race relations, climate change, literacy historic preservation and most controversial, health care reform. and, she forged a path for a first lady. running for and winning a united states senate seat. you will hear in her own voice how she experienced her white house years, featuring footage from c-span's video footage library. her first priority was health care reform. before the first year of the clinton administration was out, she was testifying before congress on what she believed needed to be done. this is hillary clinton in her own words. >> mrs. clinton, we welcome you, this is an auspicious occasion and every sense.
>> i want to thank you, and the members of this committee for the many courtesy's hand good advice, and hours of your time that you have spent with me as a whole committee that many of you have spent with me individually. in the past few weeks, mr. chairman, you and other distinguished members of this committee have raised tough and important questions about how best we can finance health care reform. this is, as we all know, a subject of great complexity. one has been studied exhaustively, which is still subject to a great many questions. we have two in the coming weeks and months ahead, work closely together to understand as fully as we are able, the kinds of issues that are raised by the reforms that are offered, not only by the president, but by
the republican senators represented here on this committee, and others. we have to be sure that we get the best value for the health care dollars we currently spend, and that we do the best job we can to reform the system so that health care is delivered more efficiently at higher quality to all americans. the simple fact is, americans are spending nearly one trillion dollars a year on health care. and we are not getting our money's worth. i would argue that, the economic theory of the cost disease, which you know so well, which points out the difference in service and labor intensive services, often uses the example that a mozart quartet being played in the 18th century and being played in the 20th century still requires for people. there is no productivity increase if you are going to play that quartet. the problem with the american health care system, is if you
can imagine that quartet has added people to hold the chairs, to handle the violence in, and has required the musicians to stop at the third or fourth page of the music to call somebody to make sure they can go on to the next bar. that is the kind of waste and inefficiency that permeates our health care system. we believe very strongly that if we do not set the kind of very strong goals that we can achieve and both the public and private sector, we will continue to reward this and efficient delivery system that does not guarantee quality at all. i think most of us on this committee would be more than pleased to get all of our health care from a clinic, and we would get it out much less of a cost than if we want to many of the hospitals within a few miles of this building. >> you are watching american history tv and listening to hillary rodham clinton in her own words. president clinton asked the
first lady to take the lead in investigating health problems experienced by foreign veterans. this is from january 1997 in the white house roosevelt room. >> thank, you and please be seated, and welcome to the white house. i am pleased to see all of you here today for the presentation of this report of the presidential advisory committee, and golf war veterans illnesses. the work of this committee reflects the administration's commitment to finding answers for the thousands of brave men and women suffering from undiagnosed illnesses after serving in the persian gulf war. it reflects the presidents commitment to being responsive, to and responsible for our veterans and their families. i know that there are members who are here of the commission, and i would like if they could for them to stand if we could --
they are all, standing good. we appreciate it very much the time and effort that went into the service, and i know firsthand how important and difficult your task has been. over the last four years, the president and i have received many heart-wrenching letters from gulf war veterans and family members. many veterans and their family members said they felt that their country had forgotten them. so in the fall of 1994, the president asked me to explore the issues surrounding the health needs of gulf war veterans, and to look into the federal government's efforts to address their concerns. i met with officials from the department of defense, the veterans administration, and the department of health and human services to determine if we were doing the very best we could to respond to our veterans needs, and to facilitate research into their illnesses. i met with representatives of the american legion, and the veterans of foreign wars who shared their own observations and told me of their efforts to
bring more serious national attention to these illnesses. i visited with individual veterans, active duty soldiers, and their families at walter reed hospital and the veterans hospital here in washington, i listened to veterans as they tried to describe to me what it was like to live day after day year after year not knowing why they had become sick. i heard stories of hardworking men and women who could no longer keep steady jobs and support their families because of their illnesses. one veteran officer who had been diagnosed as 100% disable told me about the healthy and active life he had led before his tour in the persian golf, and about his frustration and seeking affective treatments for her symptoms. and february 1995, i reported to the president and the chief of staff on these findings and recommended some steps the administration could take in the future, including the creation of a blue ribbon panel to investigate these issues whether.
i had the privilege of testifying at the first meeting of this committee and august 1995. i've been following the work that has been done closely ever since. i'm gratified to be her to day, and i'm also gratified that our government is making progress and being responsive in taking affirmative steps to do all that can be done on behalf of our veterans, and on behalf of future members of our forces who might be put in harm's way in the future. i want to thank all who served for their persistent efforts on this committee. and for considering thoroughly the diverse and strongly held opinions, theories, explanations, and evidence about these illnesses. but i particularly want to thank golf for veterans and their families, we're taking the time to share their experiences with this committee. >> you are watching american history tv, and listening to hillary clinton in her own words. the first lady was a familiar figure on the international
stage us. in 1998, she traveled to belfast to speak about peace in northern ireland. >> so it is a fantastic privilege for me to welcome, to introduce a role model to me, and two young women all around the world, mrs. hillary rotem clinton, first lady of the united states. she has shown that women have a real voice, and can make a lasting difference in their communities, and countries, and in the whole world. >> that is so good. i'm so proud of you. you are excellent. i love it.
thank you. thank you very much, fiona, for that introduction and even more for your -- adding your vital voice to this conference. i'm sure if you need a note to be excused from school, there are about 1000 of us who would sign it. the road to peace will never be easy, but the world has also seen how no fires, bombs, or terrorists will ever turn you back. when my husband and i go to -- tomorrow, we will pay tribute to those who were murdered by the enemies of peace. they were mostly women and children. they were catholic, and protestant, unionist, and nationalist, young, and old. they were people simply living their lives, working at a
drapery store, hanging out with friends, buying school uniforms for their children. the terrorist targeted the people of northern ireland, and in response it was the people all the people who bravely stood side by side to say hatred and violence will no longer have a place here. we have chosen ballot, not bombs. democracy, not division. we have resolved to live in peace. we will never go back. we will only move forward. and as you do, please know that america will stand with you. how appropriate it is that this conference takes place the first week of school, not only because it is a time for new friends and new beginnings, but also because ultimately our
children are the reason we are here. for 30 years, parents dropped their children off for school, tucked in their shirts, kissed them goodbye, and dreamed of a time where they could play outside free from violence. dreamed of a time when their children's opportunities and destinies would never again be limited by their place of worship, or political party, or by whether they are a boy or a girl. today there is real hope that this dream, once expressed through poetry and protest, will finally be a reality for children in northern ireland. none of this would have been possible were it not for the courage, and strength of generations of women. though they may have warships separately on sunday, seven
days a week they all said a silent prayer for their husbands to return safely home. seven is a week, they lived in fear that the unspeakable would happen, that they would be forced to bury their own child. and yet, 70s a week, they carried on with hope and prayer that the future would be brighter, free of troubles, and heartbreak. wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, fewer household names. but having seen their lives, families, and communities torn apart by violence, women came together as women have always done. >> first ladies in their own words continues now on american history tv. political scandals marred the clinton years, culminating during bill clinton's second term with his impeachment and senate acquittal. hillary clinton was asked in
1994 about the couples credibility during what came to be known as the pink suit press conference. >> a recent news reports about the first lady's -- earnings and all these whitewater allegations, many of us americans are having a hard time with your credibility. how can you earn our trust back? is there a fundamental distrust of the clintons in america? >> well i hope not. i mean, that would be something that i would regret very much. i do think that we are transition figures, if you will. we don't fit easily into a lot of our pre-existing categories, and i think that having -- independent, made decisions, it is a little difficult for us as a country maybe to make the transition of having a woman like many women in this room, sitting in this house, so i think that the standards to
some extent the expectations, the demands have changed, and i'm trying to find my way through it, and trying to figure out how best to be true to myself, and how to fulfill my responsibilities to my husband, and daughter, and the country. >> two years later, the first lady appeared before a grand jury. the question, was there any wrongdoing concerning the clintons and a failed real estate development known as whitewater. >> lady hillary rodham clinton arriving at the u.s. district court to answer questions concerning her work for the failed arkansas savings and loans at the center of the whitewater criminal investigation. this was at 1:45 this afternoon. she is the first first lady to appear before a grand jury. >> i just want to say, before you go in, that i am happy to answer the grand jury's questions, and look forward to telling them everything i know
with the hope that it will help them in their investigation. i have to go in, know when i come oh i will see you all then. thank you. well, you are all still here i see. i was glad to have the opportunity to tell the grand jury what i have been telling all of you, i do not know how the building records came to be found where they were found, but i am pleased that they were found because they confirm what i have been saying. now it has been a long day, and i will take a question or two from some of you. >> how wide-ranging where the questions, did they go beyond the simple appearance of the records of the white house? >> there were other matters discussed, but most of it concerned the billing records. >> would you rather have been
somewhere else today? >> oh, about 1 million other places today, indeed. >> -- of complicit, your appearance? >> well i look forward to being able to tell the grand jury what i know, to be able to answer their questions, i like everyone else would like to know the answer about how those documents showed up after all these years. it would have been certainly to my advantage in trying to bring this matter to a conclusion if they had been found several years ago. so, i tried to be as helpful as i could in their investigation efforts, but now i'm going home, and i hope all of you will as well. thank you. [noise] >> you are watching
american history tv, and listening to hillary rodham clinton in her own words. midway through the clinton's first term, the story of karl anthony interviewed the first lady as part of a forum hosted by george washington university. one young woman asked when americans would elected woman to the white house. >> if he had decided not to go into politics, or if perchance you hadn't met at school, thinking back before you met him, do you think you yourself might have pursued a political career? >> probably not in elected office. i think there are so many ways to serve, and i would be involved in my community wherever that was, and i would be, i hope, working on issues that i care about. no matter where i was. but i do not know that i would have pursued an elective. no. >> what do you think, perhaps that's another way to ask, what
do you think in terms of the reaction you get from people when you meet them do you symbolize, to the people at large, are you many things to many people? >> well. again, probably. again we get so many wonderful letters from people, and i have such a great time traveling around the country talking to people. so sometimes people articulate what they were thinking about me, whether -- sometimes it is critical as well as positive, and so that i get something of an inside into that person. but mostly, i believe that for women today, there are so many options in our lives, that can be scary as well as very exciting. and, i think women who are challenged and hopeful about those options, whether they are full time homemakers, or full-time career, or whether they like most of us are balancing family, work, all of the responsibilities, they may
see me and say, well, you know, this is a woman who is trying to do what i'm doing. for people who maybe not as hopeful, or as embracing of these new opportunities for women, then the way that i have lived my life and my desire to really pull my life together and have, you know, the marriage, the motherhood, the opportunity to work, the belief in committing myself to my community, that may seem a little bit of putting. so i think so much of what people see through the lens of their own experience. [applause] >> what were your own expectations of the role of first lady, perhaps as a young woman, and then before you got to the white house after the election, and now? i'm wondering if you -- has that changed you, and in
what way? >> i mean, i don't know as a little girl that i had any expectations about first ladies. we never really saw very much of mrs. truman who was first lady when i was born, or mrs. eisenhower, except on special occasions. so really, mrs. kennedy was the first first lady to absolutely blast it open our consciousness. there wasn't anyone like her. i mean, i didn't know anyone all like her. we would all just watch her. and, to me, the first extraordinary accomplishment is the way she handled all of those responsibilities and when i now see as a very young age. because i know, when i was that age, my husband was elected governor, which is a much, much smaller stage by a long shot. and i can remember showing up
at the arkansas governor's mansion, and not having a clue about what i was supposed to do. neither my husband, nor i had ever lived in a house that big, we had never had anybody cook our meals, we never had people there to clean up after us. it was astonishing. i remember the first night we were there, we walked into the kitchen and said can we help. this woman who had been the cook for 30 years looked like we were crazy. so, i had a lot of learning to do at that level, and i saw mrs. kennedy moving into her role with such grace, and just marvelous ability to pull it together. then, of course, i admired mrs. johnson so much because i thought that she had a voice of her own which she used, and she promoted causes that she cared very much about. and then as the years went by, and i had an opportunity to actually meet some of the women
who are in this role like mrs. carter, my greatly admired and watched -- work very hard on behalf of causes she and her husband or committed to. and mrs. reagan, mrs. bush, i saw the enormous amount of work that it takes to try to do this and to do it in a way that is both in keeping with your own identity and integrity, and also fulfilling the responsibilities and my admiration for these roman grew. then, i got interested during the campaign and reading history, and i was so pleased to meet some of those references, because there has hardly been a first that has happened in the 20th century, because so many of the women in the 19th century were -- >> we were talking before about people's reactions to the way you make choices as first lady, and i think of the acrimony that certainly occurred, particularly in the final weeks of the health care debate, as
well as the last year in the winter -- speculation and so forth during whitewater, do you believe that had you taken a less public role, in a sense, operated like the first ladies of the 19th century which was behind the scenes, and essentially deny publicly. but if you have been working on health care behind the scenes, or had to take into the -- shown a very traditional role, i don't know anything about anything, and then [laughs] behind the scenes have been on the cabinet meetings, do you think it would have had a different impact in those two particular very public issues, the whitewater and the health care debate? >> i don't know, my husband and friends would have probably had me committed. that would not be at all in my nature, in my background, i mean i for better or worse have
spoken out on public issues for 25 years. and, have been deeply identified with issues i care about. and i have been on record for many years about issues that are of concern to me. i think some kind of first lady amnesia would not have been very credible under the circumstances. oh, you mean i said that, oh, well i can't imagine. i think it is probably better to be yourself, and it is always a risk, but it is something that i feel very comfortable with. i am very interested in public life, and in political issues. i am one of those kids who decorated her bike every fourth of july, and, you know, read the constitution out loud with
my dad. i really care about this country, and its government. so for me, if i were at home in little rock arkansas, or if i never met bill clinton and i had gone home in chicago, i would be expressing my opinions with my friends over coffee, or around the cooler. i don't see how i could change who i am because of the position i'm in. i actually think that in the long run, if people have some better idea about you, it may be controversial, but at least they know where you stand. so that is what i have got to do. i don't really have a choice about that, i don't think. >> one other thing we talked about in this class a lot, is the if and more likely when a woman president will come in. i would like to know your opinion and thoughts about what you think may have to have been before that happens. >> well, i have said, and i believe that there is a good possibility that sometime in the next 20 years we will have
a woman president. and i say that, because i think there are a number of women who are governors, senators, members of congress who are really coming to the forefront, and are doing so in ways that will engender national support and national attention. so i think that it is something that i may actually live long enough to see, i hope, and i certainly think you will. >> in january 1997 as she embarked on a second term as first lady, hillary clinton reflected in a c-span interview on her first four years in the white house. she talked about the public's conflicting attitudes about what first ladies should and should not do. >> i care about politics, i mean that may not be a wise thing for a person married to the president to say, but it would be a true if i were not to say that. i care about politics. i care about the state of life in this country. i care about our government.
i care about the public policy issues that come through the door of the white house, because they require the president and the administration, and the country to pay attention. i have always cared about it ever since i was a little girl. i will care about it long after my husband is out of the white house. so i'm not about to start caring about things that have never cared about, because it is not appropriate in somebody else's mind for me to continue to care about what i have always cared about. so the rules are not any different than how i have lived my life, it just happens to be that my husband has a different job, and we live in the white house, and for four more years that is what we are doing. i think what has been most pro-curious to me is how people are very concerned about this position, and on the one hand, people want a wife of a president to be concerned and caring about the issues confronting the country and to work on something of a public
interest, on the other hand they do not want her to do it in a public way, on a policy level -- when i worked on health, care a lot of people that i should not be making recommendations about legislation, or that i shouldn't be involved in working on behalf of my husband asked me to work on, which was one of his primary objectives. because, they felt that that would somehow be inappropriate, that if you exercise influence, do it behind the scenes where nobody can see you. i find that curious, to me, i would like to know what goes on in front of the scenes, because i'm very much the kind of person who believes that you should say what you mean and mean what you say, and take the consequences. just like anybody else is involved in public life. so, to some extent, i think that misunderstanding comes from the territory, and certainly going back and reading about all of my
predecessors in this position, it certainly seems that almost regardless of what they wanted to do, or tried to do, it is and anomalous kind of situation. i think americans are rightly concerned about unelected power, unaccountable power, but then if you try and become accountable by taking a public position, they are concerned about that as well and want you to retreat and go ahead an exercise power that is behind the scenes. so i don't think it will ever get sorted out completely. >> first ladies and their own words continues now on american history tv. even when engaging in what outwardly seemed to be traditional first lady offense, hillary clinton put her own mark on her role. here she is at the smithsonian in 1995 donating her inaugural gown to their collection. >> we are also grateful that this museum, and the curators within its care so much about the displaying the entire history of our country, and
giving some context, historically, socially, and politically to the women whose counts are often one of the most sought after visits in washington as tourists and americans and people really from all over the world stand in line, we now will be able to share with him these visitors, not only the beauty of the gowns, but also something more about the women who wore them. i must say that this is a bittersweet moment to give the stress up. it is not something that i came to lightly, and as you notice, we are in the third year of my husband's term before this has occurred. >> i hope all of you will have a chance, not only to admire the gowns, but also to look carefully at the rest of the exhibition. with historic photographs, and illustrations, campaign memorabilia, furniture, silver,
china, from martha washington, to barbara bush, and now to me, we can gain a new appreciation, not just of first ladies, but also of women's history, and presidential politics in the course of our great country's history. from their political role, to the public image, to their private lives, each first lady has shaped her position based on her own past experiences, interests, and aspirations. i have certainly been inspired by the women who came before me, and i have learned so much in reading about their lives. i often have hope that more americans could learn more about these women's, and not just see them as stereotypes, or a cardboard cutout. because, each of them had a rich history which she brought to the white house. and, many of them, i think, would be quite surprising, even to people today, to read what they wrote, to read what they
said, and you understand the role they played in influencing their husbands and the course of american politics. actually, i take some comfort in that. [laughs] because, it is probably true to say that anything which has ever been said about any of us was said about one of the other of us. >> in the waning days of the clinton administration, hillary clinton debuted her book an invitation to the white house, at home with history. here she is speaking in the east room. >> and as bill said, i don't think that any of us have ever walked into this house without the sense of all overcoming us. and, if you ask why i would write this book, i suppose, you know, the answer is that that sense of awe is something that i want to share. because, for me, the history
that has been written here, that has really changed the course of america and the world for the better, his something that i want everyone in our country to appreciate. you know, not everybody, even with 1 million and a half visitors a year will be able to come to the white house, but i hope that either through purchasing this book, or going through the library, people will have a chance to see what we see, and which i hope will never be taken for granted. even after living here for eight years, i can still remember my first glimpse of the white house as a young girl visiting washington with my family. we didn't go on the tour. we stood outside, and peered through the gate, as i often see people for my windows doing. i think back to what it felt like when i was, you know, ten years old peering through those gates, thinking about that people who lived there, and what had happened in the years before i was even born he.
now, some of the rooms that you've seen on this tour have of course change overtime. as carter said, it used to be the custom that, you know, exiting presidents and first families would, you know, take parts of the white house with them. or, auction them off. so, there wasn't any sense of continuity, as there is today. but, it's equally true that it tastes have changed. when we redid the state dining room, i have to, say there were some purists among us. not, me but others, who said that we should go back to the original teddy roosevelt renovation. so, i called betty month man, and i asked for the pictures. you know, i am getting older. i don't see as well as i used to. so, i was peering at these pictures. i put on my reading glasses, and i think i said to betty or whoever was standing near, are these heads on the? wall? you know? we called for enlargements, and there, surrounding that diners
in the state dining room or, you know, the head of a moves, the head of an elk, and the head of nine other big game that president roosevelt had bagged, and wanted to share with his guests. we had a couple of vigorous discussions and preservation of the committee. there were those who thought we should call it teddy roosevelt library and ask for the return of the heads. you know, there is a certain -- i haven't done it often, but there is a certain privilege of a position that goes with being first lady. not that you would notice. there are some downsides and being first lady but, you know, every once in a while, you can say, i'm sorry. no heads on the wall. >> as we closer look at hillary
clinton, you will hear from her as she transition from first lady to political candidate and then united states senator. she embarked in the senator of 1991, in what she called a listening to our new york. not quite a year later, she was speaking to the new york democratic convention as a candidate for u.s. senate. on election day 2000, she became senator elect clinton. still ahead of her or two more titles, secretary of state and democratic presidential nominee. you will hear from her first at the new york convention, and then during freshman senator orientation. this is hillary clinton in her own words. [applause] >> i am delighted that the president is here this
evening, and i am so grateful. i am so grateful for his support. i would not be standing here tonight, where it not for bill, and were it not for all he has done for me, and i could not be prouder as an american and as a new yorker to have a president who has meant so much to our country. we are a better country than we were in 1992. [applause] i pledge to you that i will work my heart out every day in this campaign to become your next senator, and i will work -- i will work every day in the senate to keep faith with you, with the values and the ideals of a democratic party of new
york, because make no mistake about it, this election is not about me or about any republican opponent. it is about the people of new york and the common mission that we are pledged to. what is that mission? well, i think it is to strengthen our families and protect our children, to improve our schools, and extend health care to every new yorker. to free our families and communities from the terror of gun violence, to strengthen social security and modernize medicare. to ensure america's continued leadership in the world. because, despite the strides and progress we've made, there are still too many forgotten new yorkers.
[noise] [laughs] >> there is a lot together. >> that's. right [inaudible] >> well, i've had a very good day. john and i have been going through orientation together and i think sat for me, it's been the great privilege to be here, especially with the other new senators, which who i'm going to serve with, all of whom are as committed as john and i are to the work ahead. i was just thinking, i haven't spent much time in this building since 1974, when i
worked for the congress, and 1968 when i was an intern. i am delighted to be back, and rediscovering the beauty of the capital. i think that all of us who just listen to senator byrd, were struck by the history, but the challenges that each time faces. he really put into perspective some of the early challenges that senators, in the beginning of the 19th century faced, all the way to the present time, and that just increases our feeling of responsibility that the state has a pressed upon us. >> senator kate bailey hutchinson said that today you are a blank slate and terms of the -- how do you plan to make your impression? >> i am pleased to learn that i am. that's very good news. i intend to work as hard as i can, and if you represent the people of new york to the best
of my ability, to work hard to serve my constituents, to work with my colleagues, wherever and wherever i can on behalf of our country. so, i am absolutely hoping to build relationships and create consensus with every senator. >> well you overcome being a first lady and now a senator? >> well, i think that will develop over time. certainly, i've tried in my campaign, and in the weeks since the election to make sure that, you know, i intend to shoulder the responsibility of being a senator. i am not adverse to hard work, and, i expect to be working very hard to learn a lot because there is a lot to learn, as we have already seen today. >> thank you for joining us on american history tv for the special look at hillary brought him clinton, in her own words. next week, laura bush, a
one-time librarian who became first lady. american history tv as first lady series is also available as a podcast. you can find it wherever you get your podcasts. >> if you are enjoying american history tv, then sign up for our news letter using the qr code on the screen. to receive the upcoming schedule of programs like lectures of history, the presidency, and more. sign up for the american history tv news letter today, and be sure to watch american history tv every saturday, or anytime online at c-span.org slash history.