By Evan and Jackie Glassman
On Sunday, September 28, 2008, the two of us had the opportunity to speak with our neighbor Senator Clinton and touched on several topics: her historic race, the current presidential campaign, her relationship with our community, and her advice for kids (like ours!) who are interested in public service.
Q (Evan): I actually met you and your husband in 1992 in New Hampshire while campaigning for President Clinton’s first race. I’ve been following your careers ever since, and have enjoyed writing the “Hillary’s Run” column for Inside Chappaqua over the past year. Thank you for taking some time to speak with us today.
A: I’m really happy to do it Evan, and I’m glad to know of the connection going back to 1992. We have two things in common — that campaign and living in Chappaqua. I appreciate the way that you have chronicled the campaign, and I’m very excited to talk with you today.
Q: We’ve all been watching from Chappaqua, and it’s been very exciting. Going back now, and I know its only been a few months since you stepped back from the campaign, what lessons can be drawn from your historic race?
A: I think first of all — what an amazing country this is despite all of our problems and challenges. The fact that the Democratic party fielded such a great group of candidates and it came down to Senator Obama and me says volumes about our commitment to breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for people willing to work for them. I also think that it’s a real reflection on the American people. I met so many young people whose dreams for going to college were cut short because they couldn’t afford to start or complete. I’m reminded time and again of the resilience and extraordinary commitment to the future that most Americans believe in. And what they’re looking for is a government that will be a partner with them and not make life even more difficult than it is.
Q: As you stand here today, what are you most proud of from your race?
A: I am really proud of the way we mobilized millions of people who participated in the front lines of a political campaign and made the phone calls and walked the streets, to those who showed up and voted for a better future. I was proud to be a woman working hard to shatter that glass ceiling and the connection that I felt with so many girls and young women and even older women in their 90s who had come to my events. Really, it was touching and meaningful to me because I felt that it was not only me running for the nomination to be our President, but it was a lot of people feeling empowered and excited about their own potential.
Q: Were you happy with the support you received from your hometown, Chappaqua?
A: Absolutely. I had so many people who came out and worked for me, who cheered me on, who were there every step of the way with me. I remember so well a woman who came up to me at the French Restaurant as we like to call it …
Q: That’s what we call it too …
A: And said, “I’m so proud to tell people I live in Chappaqua because of what your campaign means to me and to so many people.”
Q: What are your feelings about the way the current campaign is unfolding? It’s been a pretty dramatic week.
A: The country has faced a pretty dramatic challenge with the situation in the financial and credit markets. Democrats proved that we could turn the economy around when my husband went into office in 1993, and I think that people remember that, and they’re looking for steady and sensible leadership to guide us out of our current predicament, which is why on November 4th, we are going to win this election.
Q: I also wonder — and neighbors have been asking me this all week — when they heard I was going to have a moment with you — what you’re thinking about Senator McCain’s choice of Governor Palin as a running mate?
A: Well, it’s obviously one that excited the Republican base and excited people beyond the Republican Party to see a woman on the ticket. The Democrats did it in 1984 with Geraldine Ferraro, and the Republicans did it this year. I think it’s not going to sway the voters who need to be convinced. People are going to be asking — who is better for my family? Who is better for the economy? Who is more likely to move us toward quality affordable health care for everybody? The McCain-Palin ticket does not offer any of that. So, it’s an exciting choice, and I think people can be interested and moved by her story and her position on the ticket and conclude rightly that it’s not enough to convince them to support the same old Republican policies.
Q: How do you think they’re going to be preparing Governor Palin this week for her debate on October 2 in light of the reaction to her interview with Katie Couric a couple of days ago?
A: I don’t know Evan because it’s hard to be prepared for these debates. Joe Biden went through a lot of debates in the Presidential primary season as well as what he’s done his entire career. She apparently did debate when she ran for governor, but the quantum leap to standing on that stage in front of tens of millions of Americans is daunting. I don’t know what their strategy will be, but I think again, people can say well “good for her, she’s come a long way, she’s got a lot of achievements on the state level,” whether you agree with her or not, but Joe Biden is ready to be President. He has experience both in dealing with economic difficulties and certainly with strategic challenges we face around the world and I expect that will be the take away from the debate.
Q (Jackie): I’m going to switch gears now. How would you like to be remembered around town — far in the future?
A: As a good neighbor because I feel so much at home in Chappaqua. Both Bill and I had no idea what to expect when we bought our house in 1999. It’s almost 10 years. We have loved being part of the community. I know you have been active in the Chappaqua School Foundation, and I well remember when we were participating in the event that helped raise money and spread the word about the good work the Foundation has done. Bill has been involved in supporting the New Castle Historical Society.
Q: I have two questions from our children. The first from our ten-year-old son, Jacob, who is a fifth grader at Seven Bridges Middle School. He is planning to run for Class Representative and wanted to know if you had any tips?
A: I think first of all when you run for any office — school or in society — you have to start by making clear to your classmates that you want to represent them and do a good job to serve them. So you need to be a good listener. You want to ask people — “well what do you think we can make better at school?” We love our school, but what could be done differently that might make it even better than it is? You want to be sure that you talk to everybody. Don’t leave anybody out. You never know what somebody will do when they vote. Sometimes you assume this person would never vote for me, but you’ve got to ask everybody for his or her vote. You want to tell people that you’ll really really work hard. Now, if it works, then you’ve got to go to work and try to do everything you said. If it doesn’t work, don’t get discouraged. I ran for office in junior high school. I was a little older than Jacob. I didn’t win, but I didn’t give up because I think if you really want to serve people and help them, you may have to try a couple of times. When my husband first ran for Congress in 1974, he lost, but he didn’t give up. He kept going and eventually ended up being our President.
Q: My other question is from our six year-old daughter, Abby. It’s a similar question, but being that she’s a girl born into a world where girls can do anything — she would like to be president one day. She’s a first-grader. Any quick tips for her?
A: Well I hope that Abby feels like she can do anything. I hope that my running for President and being from Chappaqua has convinced her even more that there shouldn’t be any limits to what girls and boys can do. But just because we’re breaking down barriers and shattering the glass ceiling doesn’t mean that anybody is entitled to anything in our society. You really have to be prepared and you have to work hard and the best way to do that for Abby is to really love school, learn as much as she can, just get excited about participating in activities that she likes. If she’s an athlete, if she’s a musician, an artist, a dancer, a gymnast — whatever she likes — really throw herself into it. You may want to be President today when you’re six, but you may decide when you’re older that you want to do something else, but what’s most important is to do what you really feel passionate about, where you can best serve and what would give the most meaning to your life.
Evan and Jackie: Thank you. Thank you, Senator Clinton. It’s been an honor to talk to you today.
Senator Clinton: Nice talking to you, too.
Evan: Good luck with the bailout!
Senator Clinton: I think we have a deal, Evan. At least I hope we have a deal. And it’s a heck of a lot better than what we saw when it first arrived from the Treasury Department. It’s not everything that I or probably anybody else would want if we were starting from scratch, but I think it’s an improved plan that I hope can get to work pretty soon, so that we can avoid further economic dislocation, so that’s what I’m working on now.
Evan and Jackie: Thank you for your time.
Senator Clinton: Thank you. Take care everybody.
EVAN GLASSMAN is a litigation partner in the New York City office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP. JACKIE GLASSMAN writes children’s books and develops educational materials. She also serves on the Board of the Chappaqua School Foundation. They moved to Chappaqua in 2000 (shortly after the Clintons), where they live with their children Jacob and Abby.