tv The Presidency First Ladies in Their Own Words - Hillary Clinton CSPAN April 18, 2022 10:21am-11:08am EDT
secretary of state and then campaigned for the presidency herself. american history tv's "first ladies" series is also available as a podcast. you can find it where much you get your podcasts. there are a lot of places to get political information. but only at c-span do you get it straight from the source. no matter where you are from or where you stand on the issues c-span is america's network. unfiltered, unbiased, word for word f. it happens here or here or here or anywhere that matters. america is watching on c-span, powered by cable. all this month watch the top 21 winning videos from our student cam documentary competition. every morning before c-span's "washington journal" we'll air
one of our student cam winners whose documentary told us how the federal government impacted their lives and you can watch all the student cam documentaries online at studentcam.org. i think most americans know that issues like the family and medical leave act senator dodd has championed that's an issue president bush is about to veto again. a good job is a family issue. decent health care so you don't have to worry about the members of your family, that's a family value issue. we need to look at what is going on in the lives of families and come up with positive solutions. >> you've taken a lot of hits during this campaign. what does the fact that even at one point the campaign was reduced to comparing chocolate chip cookie recipes, attacks at the republican convention, what does this say about society's willingness to address a bigger role for women?
>> i don't think that's really at issue. i think what you see is a desperate political strategy to distract people from what's 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's sad and disillusioning. >> do you feel any bitterness about the attacks on you or your husband? >> no, it's hard to feel anything about attacks that aren't true and so cynically politically motivated as those coming out of the republican convention. it is sad, though, that when we have so many problems in this country that the other party would spend days on distractions, diversions, untruths, instead of all of us trying to do what we could do to help solve those problems, and that's what i want this election to be about. >> that was hillary rodham clinton and her husband's assertion if americans voted him
into the white house they'd get a package deal. buy one, get one free, he'd say. as first lady hillary clinton spoke for the administration on a wide ranging issues -- child development, race relations, climate change, literacy, historic preservation, and most controversially health care reform. and she forged a path for a first lady. running for and winning a united states senate seat. you'll hear in her own voice how she experienced her white house years featuring footage from c-span's video 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 in every sense. >> i want to thank you and the members of this committee for the many courtesies and good
advice and hours of your time that you have spent with me as a whole committee and 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 that has been studied exhaustively but which is still subject to a great many questions. we have to 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 that americans are spending nearly now $1 trillion a year on health care, and we are not getting our money's worth. and 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 four people. there's no productivity increase if you're going to play the quartet. the problem with the american health care system is if you can imagine that quartet has added people to hold the chairs, to hand the violins 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. and that is the kind of waste and inefficient that permeates our health care system. and we believe very strongly if we don't set the kind of very strong goals that we can achieve in both the public and the private sector, we will continue to reward this piece work, inefficient 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 mayo clinic and we would get it at much less of a cost than many of the hospitals within a few miles of this building. >> you're 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 gulf war 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 on gulf 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, and it reflects the president's abiding commitment to being responsive to and responsible for veterans and their families. i know that there are members who are here of the commission, and i'd like them, if they would, just to stand so that we can see -- they're all standing. good. we appreciate very much the time and effort that went into this
service, and i nope firsthand how important and difficult your task has been. over the last four years the president and i have received many heartwrenching letters from gulf war veterans and family members, many veterans and their family members said they felt 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. and i advice ied with individual
veterans, active duty and their families. at walter reed here in washington i listened to veterans as they tried to describe what it was like to live day after day, year after year not knowing why they had become sick. i heard stories of hard-working 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% disabled told me about the healthy and active life he had led before his tour in the persian gulf and about his frustration in seeking effective treatments for his symptoms. in february 1995 i reported to the president and the chief of staff on these findings and recommended some steps the administration could take including a blue ribbon panel to investigate these issues further. i had the privilege of testifying at the first meeting of this committee in 1995 and i've been following the work
that has been done closely ever since. so i'm particularly gratified to be here today 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 gulf war veterans and their families for taking the time to share their experiences with this committee. >> you're watching american history tv and listening to hillary clinton "in her own words." the first lady was a familiar figure on international stages. in 1998 she traveled to belfast to speak about peace in northern
ireland. >> a fantastic privilege for me to welcome, to introduce a role model to me and to young women all around the world, mrs. hillary rodham clinton, first lady of the united states. [ applause ] she is giving women a voice, making a lasting impact on their countries. >> that is so good. i am so proud of you. you were excellent. i loved it. [ applause ] >> 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 1,000 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 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 terrorists 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 ballots not bombs, democracy not division. we have resolved to live in peace, and 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's 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 good-bye, and dreamed of a time when 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're 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 worshipped separately on sunday, seven days a week they all said a silent prayer for their husbands to
return safely home. seven days a week they lived in fear that the unspeakable would happen, that they would be forced to bury their own child. and yet seven days a week they carried on with hope and prayer that the future would be brighter free of troubles and heartbreak. wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, few were household names, but having seen their lives, their 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 couple's credibility during what came to be known as the pink suit press conference. >> recent news reports about the
first lady's future earnings and with all these whitewater allegations many 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 been independent, having made decisions, it's a little difficult for us as a country maybe to make the transition of having a woman like many of the women in this room sitting in this house. so i think that the standards and to some extent the expectations and 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 my 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's the first first lady to appear before a grand jury. here are a couple of comments. >> i just want to say before i 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, and i have to go
in now, but when i come out i will see you all then. thank you. well, you're 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 billing 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's been a long day, and i will take a question or two from some of you. >> how wide ranging were the questions? did they go beyond the simple appearance of the records at 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 a million other places today indeed.
[ inaudible ] 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 am going home, and i hope all of you will as well. thank you. >> are you subject to -- >> you're watching american history tv and listening to hillary rodham clinton "in her own words." midway through the clintons'
first term historian carpal karl anthony hosted a forum. one young woman asked when americans would elect a woman to the white house. >> if he had decided not to go into politics or if, per chance, 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 elective office. i think there are so many ways to serve and i would be involved in my community wherever that was and i would hope working on issues that i care about. no matter where i was. i don't know that i would have pursued an elective, no. >> 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? or are you many things to many people? >> well, again, probably. we get such wonderful letters from people and i have such a great time traveling around the country talking to people. and so sometimes people articulate what they're thinking about me. sometimes it's critical as well as positive. and so then i get something of an insight into that person. but mostly i believe for women today there are so many options in our live 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 whether they are full time career or whether they, like most of us, are balancing family, work, and 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. and for people who maybe are 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 to have the marriage, the motherhood, the opportunity to work, the belief in committing myself, that may seem a little bit off putting. i think so much people see through the lens of their own experience. [ applause ] >> what were you 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? has that changed you? and in what way? >> 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, you know, on special occasions. so really mrs. kennedy was the first first lady that absolutely blasted open our consciousness and there wasn't anyone like her. i didn't know anyone at all like her. we would all just watch her. to me the most extraordinary accomplishment is the way she handled all of those responsibilities at, what i see now, is 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. i remember showing up at the arkansas governor's mansion and not having a clue about what i was supposed to do.
neither my husband or i had lived in a house that big. we had never had anybody cook our meals. we had never had people there to clean up after us. it was astonishing. and 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. and so we -- i had a lot of learning to do at that level, and i saw, you know, mrs. kennedy moving into her role with such grace and just marvelous ability to pull it together. and 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 actually to meet some of the women who were in this role like mrs. carter, who am greatly admired and watched work very hard on behalf of causes she and
her husband were committed to, and mrs. reagan and 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 women grew. and then ini got interested during the campaign in reading. there has hardly been a first that has happened in the 20th century because so many of the women in the 19th century were there ahead of us. >> when we were talking before about people's reactions to the way you've made 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 last year in the winter,
the 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, you know, behind the scenes and then essentially deny it publicly, but if you had been working on it, health care, be behind the scenes or taken to the public and showed this traditional role, i don't know anything about anything -- and then behind the scenes been in on the cabinet meetings and so forth, do you think it would have had a different impact in those two particular very public issues, whitewater and the health care debate? >> i don't know. my husband and friends would probably have had me committed. that would not be at all in my nature, in my background. 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 have been on record for many years about issues that are of concern to me. and 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 that 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'm 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 had never met bill clinton and i had gone home to chicago, i would be expressing my opinions to my friends and, you know, over coffee or around the water cooler. and i don't see how i could change who i am because of the position i'm in. and i actually think in the long run if people have some better idea about you, it may be controversial but at least they know where you stand and so that's what i have got to do. i don't really have a choice about that, i don't think. >> i think we've talked in this class about the if and more likely when a woman president will come in and i'd like to know what your opinion and thoughts about what you think may have to happen before that happens. >> well, i have said, and i believe, there's a good possibility that some time in the next 20 years we will have a woman president. and i say that because i think that 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 en gender national support and attention, and it's something i will live long enough to see, i hope, and i believe you will. >> 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, and she talked about the conflicting attitudes of what first ladies should and should not do. >> i care about politics, and that may not be a wise thing for a person married to a president were to say, but it would be untrue if i were not to say that. i care about the politics and i care about the state of the life in this country, and i care about our government and 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 every since i was a little girl and i will care about it long after my husband is out of the white house. i am not about to start caring about things that i never cared about because it's not appropriate in somebody else's mind to continue to care about what i always cared about. the rules are not any different than how i lived my life and 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's what we will be doing. i think what has been most 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 public interest, and on the other hand they don't want her to do it in a public way on a policy level,
they don't want -- when i worked on health care a lot of people thought i should not be making recommendations about legislation or i should not be involved on working on behalf of what my husband asked me to work on which was one of his primarily objectives, because they thought that was somehow inappropriate, and if you are exercise influence do it behind the scenes, and i find that curious because i am very much the kind of person that believes you should say what you mean and mean what you say and take the consequences, just like anybody else who is involved in public life. so to some extent i think that misunderstanding comes with 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's anomalous type of situation, and americans are concerned about unaccounted power, and if you want to be accountable and they want you to retreat and go behind the scenes. "first ladies: in their own words" continues on c-span tv. hillary clinton put her own mark on her own role. here she is at the smithsonian inaugurating ground to their museum. >> the curators care so much about displaying the entire history of our country and giving some context, historically, socially and politically to the women whose
gowns 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 these visitors, not only the beauty of the gowns but also something more about the women who wore them. i must say this is a bittersweet moment to give this dress up. it is not something that i came to lightly. as you will notice, we are into the third year of my husband's term before this has occurred. i hope all of you will have a chance to not only admire the gowns but also to look carefully at the rest of the exhibition. with historic photographs, campaign memorabilia, from martha washington to barbara
bush and now to me, we can gain a history in the course of our great country's history. from their political role to their 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 about the women that came before me and i have learned so much about reading about their lives, and i have hope that americans could learn more about these women and not just see them as stereotypes or cardboard cutouts, 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 and what they said and understand the roles they played in influencing their husbands
and in the course of the american politics, and i actually take comfort in that because it's probably true to say anything that ever was said about any of us was said about one of the other of us. >> hillary clinton debuted her book, an invitation to the white house, at home with history. here she is speaking in the east room. >> as bill said, i don't think that any of us have ever walked into this house without that sense of awe 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 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 is something that i want everyone in our country to appreciate. you know, not everybody even with a 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 to 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, and we didn't go on the tour but we stood outside and peered through the gate which i see people from the windows doing, and it felt like when i was 10 years old peering through the gates thinking about the people who lived there and what had happened in the years before i was even born. now, some of the rooms that you have seen on this tour have, of course, changed over time.
as carter said, it used to be the custom exiting presidents and first families would 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 tastes have changed. when we redid the state dining room there were some purists among us, not me, but others that said we should go back to the original teddy roosevelt renovation, and i called and asked for the pictures. you know, i am getting older and i don't see as well as i used to. i was peering at these pictures and so i put on my reading glasses and i said to betty or somebody near, are these heads on the wall? we called for enlargements, and there surrounding the diners in the state dining room were the head of a moose and the head of
a elk and nine other big game that president roosevelt has bagged and wanted to share with his guests. we had a couple of very vigorous discussions in the white house because there were those that thought we should call the teddy roosevelt library and ask for the return of the heads. but, you know, there's a certain -- i have not done it often, but there is a certain, you know, privilege of position that goes with being first lady. there are -- not that would you notice, there are downsides in being first lady, but every once in a while you can say, i'm sorry, no heads on the wall. >> as we close our look at hillary clinton, you will hear from her as she transitions from first lady to political candidate and then united states
senator. she embarked in the summer of 1999 on what she called a listening tour of new york. not quite a year later she was speaking at the new york democratic convention as a candidate for u.s. senate. she then became senator-elect clinton, and still ahead are two more titles, secretary of state and democratic presidential nominee. you will hear from her first at the new york convention, and then freshman senator orientation. this is hillary clinton in our 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 were 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. 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 the 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.
>> we do a lot of things together. >> right. >> you are a former first lady and now a senator. >> well, i have had a very good day. john and i have been going through orientation together. i think that, for me, it has been a great privilege to be here, especially with the other new senators with whom i'll serve, all of whom are impressive and as committed as john and i are to the work ahead, and i was just thinking, you know, i had not 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 listened to senator bird were struck by not only 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 this day has impressed upon us. >> senator hutchison said you are a blank slate as far as they are concerned, and how will you make your mark and your impression up here? >> i am pleased to learn that i am. that's good news. i intend to work as hard as i can and represent the people of new york to the best of my ability, and to work hard to serve my constituents. to work with my colleagues
wherever and whenever i can on behalf of our country, so i'm absolutely hoping to build relationships and create consensus with every senator. >> do you have work to do to overcome being a first lady and now a senator? >> well, i think that will develop over time. certainly i have tried in my campaign and the weeks since the election to make clear 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's a lot to learn as we have already seen today. >> thank you for joining us on american history tv for a special look at hilary rodham clinton. next week, laura bush.
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events of white house events, the courts, campaigns and more from the world of politics, all at your fingertips. you can also stay current with the latest episodes of "washington journal" and find scheduling information with c-span's networks and c-span radio. c-span now is available at the apple store and google play. download it for free today. c-span now, your front row seat to washington anytime, anywhere. laura bush, you have described yourself as a traditional wife, a traditional mother. what does that mean? >> actually i said that i have always had traditional jobs. i have had jobs that were traditionally women's jobs, and i was a schoolteacher and library, and a public librarian for one year in