CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 1 [Applause] JOHN SHATTUCK: Good afternoon and welcome to the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.
I 9m John Shattuck, CEO of the Kennedy Library Foundation, and together with Deborah Leff, Director of the Library, Paul Kirk, the Chair of our Foundation Board of Directors, and our many board members who are here with us today, I want to say how pleased and honored we are to present this extraordinary forum to you this afternoon. I 9d like to begin by acknowledging the friends and institutions that make these forums possible. First, a special thank you to Fleet Boston, the lead sponsor of the Kennedy Library Foundation Forum Series, and Anne Finucane, Fleet 9s Executive Vice President who 9s here with us today.
We 9re also grateful for the support of Boston Capital and The Lowell Institute, as well as our media sponsors WBUR, Boston.com, and our neighbor The Boston Globe . And those who help sustain our Distinguished Visitor Program: Boston Capital, Raytheon, Corcoran Jennison, and Nixon Peabody. Before introducing our wonderful speaker, I want to say just a word about how we will proceed.
Senator ... more. less.
Clinton will make a 20-minute address and then will be joined on stage by Juan Williams, Senior Correspondent for National Public Radio and one of our country 9s finest journalists, for a conversation. And we 9ll leave some time at the end for Senator Clinton to take a few written questions from the CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 2 audience.<br><br> And you 9ll find members of the Kennedy Library staff circulating in the aisles to collect your questions. And finally we ask, in light of the very large, wonderful audience that we have today, that there be no flash photography and that you please, please turn off your cell phones. I 9m sure this is a common refrain everywhere these days.<br><br> It 9s an enormous privilege for me to welcome Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton here to the Kennedy Library today. It 9s been 35 years since I first met her at Yale Law School in 1969, where it was already clear that she was going to make a big difference in the world. In her student commencement speech that spring, at Wellesley College, Hillary Clinton spoke of the challenges facing young Americans at the end of the 1960s, taking her inspiration from President Kennedy by urging her fellow graduates, and I quote, cTo practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible possible. d As we all know, Hillary Rodham Clinton was elected to the United States Senate on November 7, 2000.<br><br> Since then she 9s been a tireless advocate in Washington for the citizens of New York who 9ve had the good sense to make history by becoming the first voters in the country to ever elect a First Lady to national office. [Applause] CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 3 But that 9s only the beginning.<br><br> For much longer, Hillary Clinton has represented citizens throughout the United States and around the world as a powerful voice for freedom and democracy. And here at the Kennedy Library we know a little bit about the extraordinary leadership a First Lady can demonstrate. Like Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy before her, Hillary Clinton transformed the role of First Lady into a position from which to inspire Americans to pursue their ideals and help the world to understand what it means to be American.<br><br> Senator Clinton, you have devoted your public life to making possible what appears to be impossible. Your leadership has so many dimensions that I can 9t possibly do justice to them all in this brief introduction, so I want to focus on one aspect that I know the best, where you have had an enormous impact on the lives of millions of people. And that is your role in the global struggle for human rights.<br><br> Like Eleanor Roosevelt who dared to propose the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, you have dared to propose that the rights of women all over the world should be respected within the framework of that historic declaration. We 9ll never forget the courage you demonstrated as First Lady at the United Nations World Conference on Women in China in 1995, when you called for an end to the brutal but all too commonplace practices of denying women the most basic forms of freedom and equality. Quote: cFor too long, d you declared, cthe history of women has been a history of silence." In your speech you gave vital voice to the hopes of millions of women all over the world that what might appear impossible might tomorrow be made possible through the persistence of struggle and the art of CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F.<br><br> KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 4 politics. No person in your position had ever declared so powerfully, as you did that day in Beijing, that human rights are women 9s rights and women 9s rights are human rights, once and for all. As President Clinton 9s top human rights official, I was inspired by your leadership.<br><br> Whether you were working for peace in the Balkans, helping refugees from Afghanistan, dealing with the crisis of AIDS in Africa, or finding ways to combat the exploitation of women and girls in Southeast Asia, you brought your practical optimism and expertise in domestic policy to the international arena. And for those working in the human rights trenches, you provided direction. And for those millions whose rights were being trampled on, you provided hope.<br><br> As you write in your wonderful best selling memoir Living History , you have drawn inspiration from the moral passion of Eleanor Roosevelt and you have been moved by the quiet determination of Jacqueline Kennedy. I know I speak for everyone in this room and for many, many beyond when I say that your commitment to public service and the example you have set for all of us has made a difference in the lives of women, men, and children here in our country and around the globe. So we thank you for striving to reach what at first may seem to be impossible.<br><br> To paraphrase President Kennedy, we thank you for showing us that instead of seeing things the way they are and asking why, we should dare to dream of what might be and ask why not. CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 5 And for all those reasons and many many more, the Kennedy Library Foundation is proud to confer upon you its highest honor, the Distinguished American Award.<br><br> [applause] HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Well, good afternoon. I am absolutely delighted and honored to be here with you. And I thank my long-time friend John Shattuck for that very kind, overly generous introduction.<br><br> But more importantly for what he is doing now on behalf of this Library and for his service to our country as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. In that capacity, John Shattuck worked extraordinarily hard and successfully to end ethnic cleansing and the horrible impact of violence in the Balkans. To establish international tribunals to bring to justice those who had perpetrated war crimes in the Balkans and Rwanda.<br><br> And he then served with distinction as our ambassador to the Czech Republic. I also want to thank Deborah Leff, the Library Director, for her work and for this wonderful occasion. And to Paul Kirk and everyone associated with the Foundation and the Library, in both full-time and what are supposed to be voluntary, unpaid positions of service.<br><br> I thank you. Because this is clearly a place that not only carries on the legacy of President Kennedy, but which does so much more. CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F.<br><br> KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 6 It is keeping both its focus on the past, as is necessary to educate future generations of Americans about President Kennedy -- the years in which he served as our president, the legacy that he had left behind -- but it is also looking to the future as well with an education program that is very successful in bringing people together as we are this afternoon. I 9m looking forward to speaking with Juan Williams and I have enjoyed my personal interactions with Mr. Williams, but I 9ve also, as a long-time NPR listener, enjoyed hearing him on my radio.<br><br> You know I was thinking as John was introducing me, that it is always a thrill to be here. I have been here as a private citizen and in my capacity as First Lady. And I was just pondering the rather unbelievable fact to me that probably the next time I 9m in a presidential library will be next November 18 when my husband 9s Library is dedicated.<br><br> So I know a little bit about the extraordinary efforts that go into creating this living legacy to a former president. And it 9s appropriate that we would gather here at what looks to be the beginning of a presidential campaign year to reflect on President Kennedy 9s goals and ideals for our nation. And I want to speak for just a few minutes about one of his dreams.<br><br> It was not his alone, but he spoke of it. And he acted on it during his presidency. And it is a dream and a goal that I believe should be once again on the national agenda.<br><br> CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 7 And that is the dream of ameliorating and ending poverty in our country. You know President Kennedy once said that, cAll our material riches will avail us little if we do not use them to expand the opportunities of our people. d And he later said, cA strong America cannot neglect the aspirations of its citizens, the welfare of the needy, the healthcare of the elderly, the education of the young. d Those words could be appearing right now on the front pages of our papers or in stories on the television and in the radio.<br><br> They seem so fresh and meaningful to us. Now, as much as that is a compliment to President Kennedy 9s enduring vision, in this case it is also a critique of our nation 9s ongoing myopia about the responsibility to ensure that the blessings of America are passed on to all of our children. I wish that his remarks from so many years ago would seem quaint or old fashioned, that they would be merely of historical significance and largely irrelevant.<br><br> As now we can look back and, thankfully, see his comments about the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall, those are now a part of history. But the ongoing challenge to ensure that American dreams are real, not just rhetorical, faces us today. And the urgency of the challenge that it presents could not be greater.<br><br> You know, when President Kennedy said, cIf a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. d That is language not only of the middle of the 20 th century, but equally relevant to the beginning of the 21 st century. CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 8 When he uttered those words in his Inaugural Address in 1961, we were at a moment of great hope and optimism in America.<br><br> And we saw what a dedicated leader could do: first President Kennedy, and then following with President Johnson to implement many of the goals of President Kennedy. But we now we have, after making progress for so long, turned away from that moral challenge. Robert Kennedy said in Athens, Georgia on May 6, 1961, cI believe that as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil. d We 9ve heard a lot of talk about evil in the last two years, and we 9ve seen its face in a very close and personal way.<br><br> There is no possible explanation for the kind of terrorism that we experienced here in our own country and which has taken so many lives around the world, most recently in Madrid. So, yes, we do have to face the reality of evil. But there is another kind of evil that I think Robert Kennedy was referring to.<br><br> And that is the indifference and the apathy to those in our very midst who are being denied and oppressed right before our eyes. Now, we have made enormous progress in many respects when it comes to poverty, its amelioration, and creating ladders of opportunity for all of our children. I 9ve been privileged to know Senator Ted Kennedy for many years and now to serve with him over the last three years.<br><br> And no one is a greater advocate for economic justice. And he carries on the legacy of his brothers and, in particular, the conscious that drives him to speak out for those who would otherwise be left behind. But as we meet in this beautiful library we have to acknowledge that we 9ve come a distance from those days and words in the early CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F.<br><br> KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 9 1960s. Can we honestly say we have met the goal that President Kennedy set for us? One out of every five of our children born today will live in poverty.<br><br> It 9s as though some have taken the scriptural admonition of Jesus that cthe poor you will always have with you d as a commandment to enforce [laughter], rather than as a statement of conditions to be rectified. As Sister Pauline Lolly(?) and others have pointed out, Jesus was making a reference to the Book of Deuteronomy which says, cOf course there will never cease to be poor people in the country. And that is why I am giving you this command.<br><br> Always be openhanded with your brother and with anyone in your country who is in need and poor. d We will have the poor with us because we know we cannot, no matter how perfect a society we attempt to create, do away with all conditions that undermine people 9s hopes and aspirations and often create circumstances that are difficult for them to get beyond. But that is not an excuse, and it should not be one that we allow anyone in political life to get away with. Instead, we should be constantly striving to do better on behalf of all of our citizens.<br><br> I was very proud of the fact that during the eight years of the Clinton administration, we had extraordinary economic success, which, yes, resulted in so many people achieving wealth beyond their dreams. Millionaires, multi- millionaires, billionaires were created in the economic energy of the 1990s. CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F.<br><br> KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 10 But we also lifted more people out of poverty than we had since the early 1970s. That was the good news. The less than good news was that the gap between the rich and poor grew even larger, with earnings for the bottom 20% of Americans rising far less than that for the top 20% of Americans.<br><br> But we were doing well and we were on a path that had we followed it, could have continued to create economic opportunities for so many. Unfortunately, in January 2001, a U-Turn was done. The budget surplus and the opportunities that it provided to make investments in people, to create more jobs and pathways to success, were basically squandered.<br><br> And we have been paying the consequences because we have seen people falling back into poverty who had been lifted up during the 1990s, and we have seen the gap between those with the most and those with the least grow even bigger. And most disturbingly to me, child poverty is worsening. Since President Bush took office, 55,000 more children have slipped into poverty.<br><br> And today if we compare ourselves to advanced economies around the world, we have the highest child poverty rate of the 17 wealthiest industrialized nations. And equally disturbing is that even work is not enough to guarantee a life free of poverty. A family of three with one working parent earning minimum wage earns $10,712 a year.<br><br> That is more than $4,000 below the poverty line income of about $14,800 a year. It 9s easy to forget that half of all poor people work. I don 9t think most Americans know that.<br><br> And even today, with the so-called jobless recovery, nearly CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 11 50% of people who live in poverty have held a job at least for some period during the past year. Why has this developed so that we face these statistics.<br><br> We make progress during the 1960s, we fall back in the 870s and the 880s, we make progress in the 890s, and once again we 9re falling back? I think it 9s because there 9s a fundamental philosophical or ideological conflict about the causes of poverty. Indeed, many in the current administration and on the right of the political spectrum argue that there is really nothing we can do to help alleviate poverty in our country, because poverty is caused by and sustained by individual behavior.<br><br> The argument goes that a person 9s behavior determines success in life. And poverty is a sign of the individual 9s failing -- because they are trapped in what is referred to as the cculture of poverty. d Now, those on the other side of the political divide argue, just as vociferously, that poverty is an economic problem alone. And that the difficulties are because society refuses to come up with governmental programs that will provide living wages and economic opportunities for everyone who is poor.<br><br> As with many such arguments, particularly in Washington, both sides are right and wrong. And they pose what is a false choice for those of us who are citizens or in public life. Clearly, economic conditions affect poverty.<br><br> During the 1990s when we created 22 million new jobs in America, many people for the first time had a ticket out of poverty. And we know that government initiatives can make a real difference. The Earned Income Tax Credit lifted millions of working poor people out of CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F.<br><br> KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 12 poverty. Social Security has virtually eliminated extreme poverty among our elderly. Before Social Security and then before Medicare, the elderly in America were the poorest of all of our citizens.<br><br> So these are major achievements that we can point to. But at the same time, culture does play a role. Too often, especially with inter-generational poverty, there doesn 9t seem to be any way out.<br><br> Poor people lack what are called the soft skills of work readiness and self-confidence that are needed to succeed in the workplace. Many of us just take that for granted. But for many who did not have role models or mentors, those are big barriers to success in the economy.<br><br> So how do we begin to sort out the arguments that in some ways prevent us from reaching a consensus about what we should still be doing with respect to poverty? Just because personal behavior may affect poverty does not make poverty solely a personal problem. It cannot be an excuse to wash our hands of the very dire needs that are before us.<br><br> So what I would propose is that we try to break through the fog of poverty and find ways to attack it across a wide spectrum, using every tool at our disposal. The Earned Income Tax Credit, child care, housing affordability, transportation systems, access to college, encouraging marriage, child support, sex education, job training, savings incentives, promoting religious and moral values, health care. These are all parts of a solution that we were making progress on during the 890s, and we now have to get back to continue that progress.<br><br> Now, unfortunately, it is not just a question of staying in the same place and treading water. There are many who are steadfastly and deliberately ripping apart CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 13 the social and economic safety net.<br><br> I find this very hard to understand. But every day in the Senate, I see another attack on the structures of opportunity and support that so many people rely on. How else to explain the commitment by this administration to turning the clock back, other than to assume that they want government out of the business of trying to help people escape poverty?<br><br> They 9re cutting vouchers to poor people who use them for access to housing, the so-called Section Eight program. They are unwilling to raise the minimum wage, despite the absolute convincing evidence that raising the minimum wage does not kill jobs. They want to take overtime pay away from millions of Americans, which will likely have the result of forcing people who are working and middle income Americans to fall into poverty, if they have their way.<br><br> They 9re trying to cut Medicaid, a social safety net program -- particularly for children -- which provides a lifeline to health care and often keeps people from either getting sicker and then showing up in an emergency room where they 9re taken care of often too late to really do what could be done for them, or forcing them into bankruptcy and impoverishment. And most confusing to me is the refusal by this President and Congress to extend unemployment benefits to the millions who have searched for a job but cannot find one in the economy. We are experiencing an oxymoron, a jobless recovery.<br><br> And hundreds of thousands of people have simply given up looking for work. Last month in February, there were hundreds of people unemployed for every one person who received a job. And we set a new record, not one I think we should be proud of.<br><br> As of last month, America 9s unemployed have been out of work an CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 14 average of more than 20 weeks, which is longer than at any time in the past 20 years. And yet despite the efforts of Senator Kennedy, Senator Kerry, I, and others to extend unemployment, we 9ve been met by a wall of resistance.<br><br> First, because if we extend unemployment the administration fears some people might begin to ask questions about the economic progress which they claim to have engineered. And second, as one of my colleagues said to me, cYou know, unemployment benefits just keeps people dependent. d Of course, unemployment benefits are paid into a trust fund for the purpose of helping people who lose their job through no fault of their own get through some difficult times. I always think when I hear people say that that they 9re talking about somebody else.<br><br> Not about themselves or any member of their family. So at the same time that we see these cutbacks to continuing to do what we know can work, at least in the short run, we have to ask ourselves what more can we do. And I 9m delighted that Senator Kerry has talked a lot about economic opportunity and about the kinds of programs and efforts that he will undertake when he is president.<br><br> It 9s important that we try to come up with a bi-partisan, even non- partisan consensus about how to proceed. For example, if you 9ve ever been forced to go into the search for help -- looking for housing, looking for food stamps, looking for Medicaid -- you know what an extraordinarily difficult obstacle course you must run. It sometimes seems that if you 9re poor we 9re going to punish you.<br><br> CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 15 Because remember the culture argument: you 9re poor because you 9re not good enough not to be poor. So we create almost a hazing ritual to make it as difficult as possible.<br><br> We could save money and assist people who need our help by moving toward information technology in all of these programs and trying to create a more seamless approach, so that people could move into these areas when they needed help and then quickly out again. And the unemployment system could be what it truly should be, which is not only a safety net but an opportunity to help people train and re-train for the jobs that we are losing. And what the prospects for employment might be in the future could be gauged and analyzed so that people could get help to fill the jobs that are available in their area.<br><br> We also should do more to both promote and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit. Unfortunately, this administration wants to cut the Earned Income Tax Credit. And they also want to make it very difficult to apply for it.<br><br> In fact, as has been pointed out several times, if you 9re a low income worker who applies for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which gives you some money back so that you can try to get yourself and your children out of poverty, you have a greater chance of being audited by the IRS under this administration than if you are a multi- millionaire. We should also expand the minimum wage. There is a long overdue need to try to bring it up closer to giving people the means to take care of themselves and their CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F.<br><br> KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 16 children. And many people on both sides of the aisle have begun to say that, but it 9s unlikely, in an election year, that we will see any action on it. And it 9s also clear that the best answer for poverty is a good job.<br><br> But this administration has the worst job creation record since Herbert Hoover. And the number of jobs that have been lost is beginning to add up. Because people, as I said, are just foregoing looking for jobs because of the discouragement they feel in the workplace.<br><br> We all know that President Kennedy said it well, cA rising tide lifts all boats. d And Jesse Jackson added this note, cExcept the ones that are stuck on the bottom. d By encouraging broad-based growth we saw what could happen in the 1990s. We began to chip away at intractable unemployment in minority communities, and we were able to create a sense of optimism about the future. Unfortunately, this administration has only one answer for the economy: more and more tax cuts skewed to those at the upper end of income.<br><br> And until we change administrations and Republican leadership in the Congress, that will continue to be their mantra. Doesn 9t matter whether it works or not, it is an article of faith. It is perhaps, one could say, faith-based economics.<br><br> [laughter] But while we look at what we can do to try stimulate the economy -- we have the debate in the presidential election led by Senator Kerry -- we should not ignore the other aspects of poverty, because we then undercut the argument we 9re making about the role that government and the economy can legitimately play. Obviously, cracking down on child support is essential, continuing to work to reduce teen pregnancy -- and we had some good news about that last year. When I CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F.<br><br> KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 17 was in the White House, we started a private-public partnership, the National Campaign to End Teen Pregnancy, trying to educate young people -- girls and boys -- convincing them to be responsible and postponing sexual activity and early parenting. And we 9ve made real progress there, and we have to continue to do so. We also have to recognize that in many of our schools the promise of education reform held out by No Child Left Behind is being undermined by the failure of the administration to fund it adequately.<br><br> And we are setting standards which I support; we are trying to lift people 9s expectations which is essential, but we are not giving the assistance to hard-pressed public school districts that they need in order to succeed. We also can do a better job in providing advice and mentoring to those who are struggling in the economy. I 9ve worked very hard on microcredit programs around the country and indeed the world, small loans that can make all the difference to someone who can start a business in his or her home.<br><br> I was recently at a conference I hosted in Troy, New York, and a young woman who had been on welfare, first as a child, then as an adult -- because of the prod of welfare reform which I supported, which I think did give people often the incentive and even the push to look for new ways to consider themselves and their futures and to move into the job market -- this young woman decided that she wanted to get some additional education about child care. And she opened up a child care center, first in her home and then later, thanks to some small loans and some business advice, in a small business place. And she said, cLook, I never would 9ve realized that I CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F.<br><br> KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 18 could be so independent. But I couldn 9t have done it without a lot of help along the way. d So there 9s much to be done that we know works, and we can implement if we have the will. That 9s what this year will test.<br><br> I am, of course, unabashedly in favor of a Democratic administration. But it is not just a partisan comment. I believe that what is happening in our country and the decisions that are being made by this administration are putting us on a radical course that will undermine the quality of life and the standard of living for the vast majority of Americans.<br><br> And that is deeply troubling to me because, as John mentioned, in the book that I wrote I talk about how fortunate I was to be born to parents who lived through the Depression and the World War II years -- my father serving in the Navy -- and then committed themselves to building a better life for their children. They were like so many other Americans of that generation. They understood that America has always done best when we keep our eye on the horizon, when we understand what the future expects of us.<br><br> This administration has a very different view of American history and of the possibility that we can continue to progress together. They hold it sincerely, they believe that they 9re right, and it 9s difficult to argue with them because they don 9t entertain questions. [laughter] So we are faced with decisions that are made on an almost daily basis that lead us back into huge deficits of $500 billion dollars, which make us dependent on foreign lenders such as the governments of Japan and China to pay the interest on our debt.<br><br> That will inevitably cause interest rates to rise, which will hurt everyone but particularly those who will lose a job, or an opportunity for a job and whose possible future will be constricted. CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 19 They pass a Medicare prescription drug bill claiming great credit for that achievement.<br><br> But if you look at the fine print, you see embedded in it are problems for how we will even be able to afford the benefit, let alone continue to support Medicare. And today we open the paper and find out that the actuary in charge of Medicare was ordered not to share the calculations done within the administration, which demonstrated how much more expensive it will be. But that 9s not hard to believe, since many in this administration never liked Medicare to begin with.<br><br> And they believe our country would be better off if we were all just thrown back into the marketplace and have to figure out how to fend for ourselves and afford whatever health care we could. In education, in the environment, in energy policy, on so many fronts as well as with respect to our role and our leadership in the world, this administration is neither compassionate nor conservative. It is radical, and it is breaking faith with decades and decades of bi- partisan consensus about how we are to proceed in the present in order to maximize the best possible future.<br><br> Now, the people who will most suffer from this are not those in my generation, but my daughter 9s generation and those of you with grandchildren, in their generation. Because we are failing in our most fundamental duty: to ensure that passing on the treasure that America is to those who come after us is done in a responsible, optimistic, and positive manner. I only hope that the majority of Americans take a look at where we are in the world today.<br><br> CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 20 And I talked about poverty because I still believe that we can 9t eliminate poverty, but we can limit it, and we can provide opportunities for people. And our failure to do so says quite a bit about how we see ourselves as a nation today.<br><br> And this administration 9s turning its back on so many and shredding the social safety net says more than I ever could. By looking at their actions we see what their true intentions are. President Kennedy called a generation of Americans to service.<br><br> He inspired countless people not only here, but around the world. And he did so because he embodied the American spirit of true compassion, of optimism, of positive energy put to work to solve problems. If you listen to what comes out of Washington at the highest levels today, it is more about fear, and it is more about fatalism, and it is not that same clarion call to action that has always motivated our nation.<br><br> So for many, many reasons, it 9s time to put another son of Massachusetts back in the White House. Thank you very much. [Applause] JUAN WILLIAMS: Thank you very much, Mrs.<br><br> Clinton. That was wonderful. We appreciate your time and the effort.<br><br> I want to let the audience know that people will be circulating in the audience to collect questions that you might have for Mrs. Clinton. We 9re going to talk for about 20 minutes to 30 minutes, and then CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F.<br><br> KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 21 we 9ll begin to go through your questions, so please look for the people who are circulating in the aisles and pass your questions to them. Mrs. Clinton, as I was listening to you, and you were talking about the idea of this administration, the Bush administration, shredding the social safety net, I was reminded of the cTwo Americas d speech that John Edwards has been giving out on the campaign trail.<br><br> And one of the clearest divides between the Bush administration and Democrats at this point is the Bush administration 9s belief, as you mentioned in your speech, that poverty has cultural roots. That 9s why they believe in the faith-based initiative, that 9s why they believe in promoting marriage and putting money into promotion of marriage rather than putting money, as you were saying, into Section Eight or Earned Income Tax Credits and the like. So it leads me to ask you if you believe that these cultural issues about poverty, especially with regard to women and marriage, are legitimate.<br><br> Or do you think it 9s absolutely bunk? CLINTON: No, that 9s what I tried to say, is that I do think that there are cultural issues. I prefer to really think of them as individual issues.<br><br> There are all kinds of barriers that individuals face, in part because of their station in life and the conditions into which they were born. And I don 9t underestimate those, and I believe that to ignore those elements of poverty is as equal a disservice to solving this problem as to pretend that there are no economic consequences of the CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 22 decisions that people in positions of influence, in both the public and the private sector, face.<br><br> You know, I 9ll just give you two quick examples on each side. There is no doubt that having a family that is intact, raising a child, has a better likelihood of positive outcome than the opposite. And anything that can be done to encourage people to be and act responsibly with respect to the real gift of a child is a very important issue.<br><br> But, on the other hand, you 9ve got a lot of people who are working at minimum wage who are still in poverty. And many of those people are very dependent on some kind of governmental structure, so that they 9re not taken advantage of at work, so that they are paid what they are owed, and you have an administration that wants to radically change the overtime rules, and by doing so actually decrease the income that people will be able to count on. Those are the two kinds of conflicts that you see.<br><br> Yes, there are steps like the Earned Income Tax Credit that can make a huge difference in keeping more money in the pockets of hardworking poor people. But there 9s also an important role for individual responsibility, and I don 9t think it should be either-or. And yet that 9s the way the debate gets played out all too often in Washington.<br><br> WILLIAMS: Well, of course, the centerpiece, if you will, of the Bush administration 9s domestic policies has been their tax cuts, huge tax cuts, largely going to the wealthiest Americans. But the argument that would come from the CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 23 Bush administration is those are the people that pay taxes, and those are the people that create jobs, and obviously we 9re in, as you said, a strange sort of recovery where it 9s jobless.<br><br> We want jobs to be created. So what 9s wrong with tax cuts? CLINTON: Well, I think that the evidence speaks for itself.<br><br> You know, President Kennedy had a very impressive program of cutting taxes, but the top rates were still what many would now consider confiscatory. And yet during the 1960s, America began to boom. In the 1990s, partly because of the extraordinary drain on the economy of the deficit, my husband 9s deficit reduction plan raised taxes on the top brackets, and the economy boomed.<br><br> So I know that Washington is sometimes viewed as an evidence free zone, but it would be helpful if people would actually look at the facts. And we 9ve had the first round of Bush tax cuts since spring of 901, and we still haven 9t seen the job engine kick in. We had a second round of tax cuts, even after September 11 th , which I found particularly irresponsible, and we still haven 9t seen the tax cuts kick in.<br><br> And so it really is a kind of article of faith with the administration, going back to supply-side economics during the Reagan administration. And in those eight years of Reagan and four years of the first Bush administration, we quadrupled the debt of our country. And what Bill tried to do was to get us back into a position of fiscal responsibility - - which we were able to do eventually after eight years -- so that we would have more control over our financial destiny.<br><br> Because what we 9re seeing now are CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 24 people not investing; these huge tax cuts have not resulted in the kind of payback that you would expect in the job market, and there 9s a lot of waiting and seeing what 9s going to happen. And so I think that there 9s a lot of evidence that we had a pretty good formula in the 890s.<br><br> Always you need to be adjusting, you should be looking to the future, and we seem to have decided to take a U-turn back to the 880s. WILLIAMS: Now the Clinton administration, as I recall, were strong advocates of free trade. That 9s become a large issue in this campaign with the President 9s own economic advisor, I think possibly mistakenly saying, maybe he was not so happy afterwards, that he thought outsourcing was good, it 9s just part of free trade.<br><br> Well, if we look at the economy in those terms -- international trade, lots of which were signed by your husband -- what do you think about the idea of possibly now rolling back the clock and saying we want some protections in place to protect people who are at the lower end of the economic scale, blue collar people working in manufacturing jobs? CLINTON: Well, this is, as you know, so, well, an incredibly complicated issue. And let me just briefly sort of explain how I see it.<br><br> I do believe in the long term benefits of trade, and I think we 9ve been well served as a nation that tried to break down trade barriers and open up opportunities both for our workers and businesses and also to try to create more global prosperity. What has happened in the last CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 25 several years, though, is somewhat new, and that 9s why I think you 9re seeing the incredible attention being paid to this issue.<br><br> We 9ve been losing manufacturing jobs for decades, and we have continued to lose them. But in the very recent past, we 9ve seen an upsurge in the loss of service jobs, white collar jobs, professional and technical jobs. And so when people who are engineers or radiologists see their jobs being outsourced, you know, then you have to ask yourself, cWell, wait a minute.<br><br> We were told that part of the reason we lost all these manufacturing jobs is because we didn 9t have a high enough value attached to those jobs, so that they could be performed elsewhere at a lower wage. d And we 9ve been telling people for 20 years now, cGo to school. Get more training. Get one of these white collar service jobs, professional and technical jobs. d And now it looks like even these might be outsourced and leaving our national economy.<br><br> So I think that 9s put the urgency into the debate. I think there are several things we should do, and we can do them without turning our back on what are still considerable benefits for our economy from trade. You know, first we 9ve never gotten our tax code right.<br><br> We talk about it, we don 9t do it. We have incentives still in the tax code for businesses that both export jobs and fail to reinvest in America with proceeds of economic activity around the globe. We should be, once and for all, closing those kinds of escapes from responsibility.<br><br> And there are big lobbies, obviously, that don 9t want that to happen. But that should be job one in dealing with these issues. CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F.<br><br> KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 26 Two, there are ways that we can provide some tax credits and deductions for businesses that will keep jobs in America. And several of us have proposed a 10% corporate tax cut for a period of time, just to kind of stabilize the situation so that if it 9s a close call the CEO is not moving the jobs but trying to keep them here. With respect to trade, at the end of the Clinton administration we were, I think, getting it closer to right.<br><br> The Jordan Free Trade Agreement that was signed at the end of Bill 9s term talked about enforceable labor standards under the International Labor Organization standards, and that was a move from what had been traditionally thought of as not the appropriate subject for a trade agreement. Instead of building on that, the Bush administration basically said, cNo, we 9re back to laissez-faire. We 9re not going to tell anybody how to employ people or what kind of pay or conditions they should work in or what the environmental circumstances of production might be. d I think that 9s a mistake, and we should try to inject this into the trade debate more than the administration is willing to admit.<br><br> But we also have to recognize that there are a lot of people who will continue to be dislocated because of the global economy, and, frankly, there 9s no tax credit or trade policy that will either stop it or slow it down if it 9s something that individual businesses believe they need to do for their own purposes. And we have not fully constructed the right kind of safety net -- structural programs -- for people who lose their jobs because of trade. And I see this a lot in upstate New York because we continue to lose a lot of jobs.<br><br> You know, we should make sure that Trade Adjustment Assistance is available to CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 27 service workers not just manufacturing workers. We should really put more resources behind retraining programs and really mean it, not just talk about it.<br><br> And so there are a lot of ideas percolating there. And, finally, I 9ll just say that, you know, there 9s something you cannot write a law about. It 9s cultural, because I always am amused when some on the right talk only about the culture of poverty.<br><br> Well, there 9s a culture of entitlement among the wealthy and powerful in this country that also needs to be addressed. And it is time for a lot of our CEOs who grew up in this country, who are happy to take the benefits of this country, often taking government programs like college loans, Pell grants and other kinds of opportunities, to recognize that they have an obligation to the people in America as well. And, again, it 9s not something you write a law about, but it needs to change the culture.<br><br> And create more of an ethos of responsibility. This is a long term problem, but I think we could do a lot more than we 9re doing and certainly more than we will ever get out of this administration which, you know, their answer to outsourcing was to announce an appointment of a manufacturing czar. Six months later they appoint somebody and he 9d already outsourced jobs to China, so it wasn 9t a very good choice for them to make.<br><br> WILLIAMS: Let 9s talk quickly about politics. I thought one of the braver aspects of your remarks had to do with getting to speak directly to poor people. And I would imagine a large sector of that is women, women who are often in CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F.<br><br> KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 28 those jobs, especially women who are single or divorced and trying to raise kids, struggling with life. How do you get those women and people who are poor to be involved in American politics? Many of them are extremely alienated, so you don 9t hear politicians stand up and make speeches, such as the speech you made, because when they 9re running for office they 9re not addressing people who have economic difficulties in their lives.<br><br> CLINTON: That 9s absolutely right. I may be a little off on this, but I think that the percentage that turns out and votes among the poor is 38% and among the wealthy 68%. And there 9s a stark difference and, therefore, not only is it less likely political leaders will pay attention and do anything to help deal with the legitimate problems that the poor have, but the rest of the citizenry won 9t either because it 9s not part of the debate.<br><br> And many of the people who are most impoverished are single women and particularly single mothers raising children. And trying to convey to them the importance of their political involvement when they 9ve got so much else to worry about is a huge undertaking. But I and a number of other people are attempting to do just that.<br><br> There were 50 million women who were otherwise eligible to vote in 2000 who did not vote. And when you think about that number and what they would bring to the political debate and the demands that they would rightly make on their political leadership, you could see the whole sand shifting in terms of what issues we will emphasize and what we will talk about. But if they 9re missing in the political equation, people are not going to pay much attention.<br><br> So we 9re CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 29 attempting to try to reach just that group you described, Juan, because so many of these women are, I think, quite heroic. You know, when I go out and I, you know, meet women who are working the night shift in a hospital or a nursing home or some other workplace, taking care of kids, sometimes one of their kids has asthma, and they, you know, make too much for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance.<br><br> You know, you just think about the struggle that every day is, and it 9s & it 9s to me something that we ought to be more respectful of and try to reach out and involve the issues that are on the minds of these women in a more public way, which I think in turn could perhaps inspire them to be involved in the political process. WILLIAMS: Well, let 9s talk about politics a little more. I don 9t know if you happened to turn on NPR this week, but there was John Kerry in an unguarded moment talking about these people that he 9s running against as cthe most crooked, lying group d that he 9s ever seen.<br><br> And I was reminded of a remark that you made in a guarded moment 3 and I believe it was on The Today Show -- in which you said, cThere 9s a vast right wing conspiracy out there plotting against my husband, d and I guess against you as well. And I thought to myself later & I talked to Mary Beth Cahill, who is John Kerry 9s campaign manager. She said, cYou know, there 9s this echo chamber on the right that starts on the Internet with someone like Matt Drudge, and then gets picked up on the radio with someone like Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, and then rolls over onto the TV, and it 9s supposed to be a legitimate public affairs program but it 9s all tilted to the right.<br><br> Then the New York Times and the Washington Post treat it as if it 9s legitimate. d Were you talking about the same CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 30 thing that John Kerry was talking about when you said ca vast right wing conspiracy? d [laughter] CLINTON: Well, I think it 9s quite descriptive] of the reality. [applause] You know, this is something that is also fascinating to me, because I 9ve actually read quite a bit about the genesis of this vast right wing media interlocking network and infrastructure, and it was something that was planned and carried out over quite a period of time.<br><br> Starting after the defeat of Barry Goldwater in 1964, a lot of those on the right who were anti-union, anti civil rights, anti-Kennedy, anti- anti, decided that, you know, they had to create a new political reality. And they, to give them credit, have done a tremendous job. They have funded just a phalanx of these think tanks who churn out all of these talking points and opinion pieces.<br><br> They have funded professorships and endowed chairs. And they have, of course, created an echo chamber in the media that carries their story no matter what it is and is constantly attacking Democrats and the people on the other side. Our challenge, and it will be Senator Kerry 9s challenge in this campaign, is to break through all that clutter.<br><br> And I am convinced he can do it, because you can focus the attention of the country when you 9re running for president. But he has to just accept the fact that they will be relentlessly attacking him 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That 9s just the nature of the political system right now.<br><br> And it 9s so fascinating to see what would 9ve been huge stories had they been done by a Democrat, largely be one day stories. I mean, I 9ll give you just an example. I CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F.<br><br> KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 31 think a lot of people were surprised to learn that Secretary Rumsfeld has a piece of the plane that went into the Pentagon in his office. Now, there may be an explanation for that, you know to be reminded of the fight against terrorism and the like. But can you imagine a Democratic president, Secretary of Defense doing that?<br><br> You would never hear the end of it. And there are so many examples of the double standard that operates. And we just, you know, I don 9t believe in complaining.<br><br> I just think you have to do a better job, to get your message out and to counter punch. And I think that is the signal that John Kerry is sending. That, you know, if you dish it out I 9m going to dish it right back.<br><br> And I think that 9s important because that is the way that you convey the strength to take on this particular network of forces that stands behind the President. WILLIAMS: When I 9m talking with people in Democratic circles about the Kerry campaign, your name often comes up as people are looking for a vice presidential candidate. [applause] You 9re already shaking your head.<br><br> So does that indicate that you wouldn 9t accept it if offered? CLINTON: Well, that is exactly right. [laughter] I will do anything to help Senator Kerry and whoever his running mate turns out to be, to win.<br><br> Because I just think the stakes could not be higher. WILLIAMS: Any women who you would put on that list? I know Janet Napolitano, who is the governor of Arizona is considered.<br><br> Once in a while, but not CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 32 often, I hear Mary Landrieu, who is the Senator from Louisiana. Maybe even Diane Feinstein of California.<br><br> For a while, it 9s interesting, the gender gap disappeared after 9/11 with more and more women thinking, cOh, we need someone to protect America. d And, therefore, willing to vote and support the Republican party. Now, it 9s come back a little bit. But with a woman on the ticket it might be a tremendous advantage for the Democrats.<br><br> So who would you suggest and who are you hearing? CLINTON: Well, I mean it 9s such a personal decision. I think that Senator Kerry has the same criteria that my husband had when he made his selection.<br><br> Which is first and foremost, do you believe this person could be president? Because, especially here in the Kennedy Library, you have to be cognizant of the enormous burden that you assume with this choice, and I think that has to be the bottom line. Could this person, whoever he or she might be, step right in and lead our country in the event of something happening to our president?<br><br> And then there are all the political calculations that the Kerry campaign has to try to figure out. But, ultimately, it 9s a really personal choice. It 9s about qualifications and chemistry, and you know I 9m just going to let Senator Kerry make that decision on his own.<br><br> [laughter] WILLIAMS: Now, one of the big issues, of course, in the course of the campaign is going to be weapons of mass destruction and whether or not the president was sufficiently justified in terms of the intelligence reports in making the step to go CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 33 into Iraq. Now, you spent last Thanksgiving traveling in Afghanistan and then Iraq; I believe you were there shortly after the President visited the troops.<br><br> I just wanted to ask you where you come out on this argument about pre-emptive war. CLINTON: Well, I think this is going to be, and should be, a big issue about the credibility of the administration. Here's how I come out, both looking backwards and looking forwards.<br><br> I think that there was sufficient consensus among the people I consulted with in the prior administration 3 obviously, that's where I went first -- and other independent experts, that we could not account for all of Saddam Hussein's weapon programs and that there was a general belief that he did have still some kind of store housing of chemical and biological potential, and that he had never given up on his intention to pursue and obtain nuclear weapons. That's what I believed going into the vote, and what the president said in his speech in Cincinnati, and what the administration briefed all of us: was that he would take that vote and go to the United Nations to create a new inspection regime. And I could absolutely agree with that.<br><br> And, in fact, after the vote they did go to the Security Council and by unanimous vote created a new inspections regime. But here's where we all part company. They apparently never intended for Hans Blix and the inspectors to be able to do a thorough job.<br><br> And, secondly, they never stopped hyping unproven allegations about the nature of the threat. And, as a result, they began to undermine their credibility from the very beginning, which of course undermines America's credibility. CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F.<br><br> KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 34 Now, when we went into Iraq, the administration was laboring under some misapprehensions as to what it would take to create conditions of order following a military victory, and how we would be received by the general population, and how long we would be there, and at what cost. And you ask yourself, how did all this happen? Well, I'm increasingly of the opinion that the administration ignored many of the experts within their own government, ignored the work that was done in the State Department and elsewhere to help prepare us for what we would find in Iraq, and listened primarily to Iraqi exiles and defectors who had a story to tell.<br><br> And, therefore, we were not well prepared after the military mission successfully removed Saddam and his regime from power. So I think it's not just a question of credibility; I think it's a question of competence and that increasingly will be clear. And it is hard to understand why leading figures in the administration, such as the Vice President, continue to make some of the same claims months and months not only after the invasion, but after David Kay and his inspectors went into Iraq.<br><br> So looking backwards we have some serious questions to ask. You know, why did the administration start down this road when they did? I think to give them some element of fairness, they did believe that these weapons were there, and they did believe that Saddam could pose a threat.<br><br> And they had other obvious agendas at work as well. But now, why are they resisting discovering as much as we can about where we went wrong and what the mistakes were? They have stonewalled and dragged their feet with the 9/11 commission.<br><br> They have been unwilling to CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 35 conduct the kind of internal examination that Ronald Reagan did. After the horrible bombing in Beirut that cost several hundreds of our marines 9 lives, Reagan had an independent commission, had somebody from the Carter administration on it, and they reported within five months.<br><br> And it let the chips fall where they may. This administration will not engage in that kind of self-critique. They never can admit they're wrong, and it is a troubling attitude to try to confront when it is tied to an ideological persuasion that argues for pre-emptive action, argues for unilateral action, which I don't think is in the best interest of America or the best interests of the world.<br><br> So we need to be both looking backwards and looking forwards. How do we get to the bottom of what we were told, and how the information was used, and what are the flaws in our intelligence system. And then going forward how do we fix it, because we shouldn't make the same mistakes again.<br><br> WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know if these folks up here in Massachusetts read books, but this book Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton is not only a tremendous best seller but I'm told it's the best selling political autobiography in all history. And it's going to come out in paperback in April. And, of course, people read this book with lots of agendas going in.<br><br> I mean people are just anxious to see the book. One of the agendas I think is that you're an icon for all American women. CLINTON: Not all.<br><br> [laughter] CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 36 WILLIAMS: I think so, I think lots of American women. You don't think so?<br><br> CLINTON: I don't think so. WILLIAMS: You think there are women on the right who don't identify with you? CLINTON: Oh, yes.<br><br> And elsewhere, yes. That's fine, though. WILLIAMS: No, but I think it's true.<br><br> I think women -- it's my experience -- across political stripes tend to look up to you because of your personal experiences. They think what you went through with your husband in the White House, which is another reason they bought this book -- they were looking for all the gossip -- that they see in you someone who's got some gumption. That you stood up there in a tough time.<br><br> But you don't think that's true? You think you're such a polarizing figure that conservative women don't like you? CLINTON: Oh, I don't know, Juan.<br><br> You know I don't have any information on that. [laughter] WILLIAMS: So you're going around, and I think you had like 40 book signings around the country, so tell me about that experience, what was it like? CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F.<br><br> KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 37 CLINTON: It was wonderful, and you know when you write a book, you have no idea whether anybody but your family and friends will buy it or read it. And I was so overcome by the positive response, and I loved the book signings because there was just every kind of person you can imagine lined up there. And I had so many poignant and heartwarming encounters with a lot of the people who came.<br><br> I had an older woman outside of Detroit tell me she'd never bought a book in her life before, you know, and that was very moving to me. I had a young man in Portland, Oregon ask me for absolution. And I said, "What for?" And he said, "I voted for Nader." And I said, "You need absolution." [laughter] Hopefully, he won't make that mistake again.<br><br> So it was an incredible panorama of Americans and feelings and opinions. Just & I could not have had a better experience. WILLIAMS: Nobody comes up to you and gives you hell, and says "I can't believe what you did." CLINTON: Well, there were some protestors outside but I don't think they wanted to buy the book.<br><br> [laughter] WILLIAMS: What were they protesting about? CLINTON: Oh, they were protesting I think my very existence. There's a fellow who occasionally shows up wearing a devil costume, and I always wave at him you know, say "How you doing?" But that was very minor.<br><br> Most people were extraordinarily kind to me. CONVERSATION WITH HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY AND MUSEUM SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2004 Page 38 WILLIAMS: Now, as I said, one thing that people bought the book for was gossip.<br><br> So how's your marriage? CLINTON: [laughs] Well, you know what? I'm in a position where I no longer have to answer that question.<br><br> [applause] WILLIAMS: There you go, all right. So we have lots of questions here from the audience, and a lot of them have to do with shifting roles from being First Lady to being a U.S. Senator.<br><br> "Mrs. Clinton, do you think you're more influential in your role as Senator than in your former role as First Lady?" CLINTON: Oh, that's a hard question. You know the First Lady position is, as you say, a role.<br><br> It's not a job. It doesn't have a job description. There's no handbook you're given when your husband's elected President, but it is a tremendous honor.<br><br> And it gives the person in that role an opportunity to speak out and work on behalf of issues and causes that she believes are important. I mean, what Mrs. Kennedy did on the beautification in the White House and historic preservation was just extraordinary.<br><br> And what Mrs. Johnson did on Head Start and planting wildflowers in the byways of o