Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Evening With The Clintons: Part Two

From family memories past to her future as the likely Secretary of State, Senator Hillary Clinton opened up on a wide range of subjects during a campaign debt fundraiser that my good friend Tiffany and I went to Monday night.

An Evening of Inspiration: Tiffany and me at the Hillary event

“Ugly Betty” star America Ferrara did a great job asking Hillary questions previously submitted by audience members, including the inevitable hindsight inquiry – would the senator run again, knowing how it would turn out?

“In a minute,” she said. “In a New York minute.”

An engaging conversation: Actress America Ferrara and Senator Hillary Clinton

Clinton went on to talk about the joy of connecting with supporters on the campaign trail. Like the cancer patient who proudly showed off her bald head --- with Hillary’s campaign button emblazoned on it.

Asked about the senate achievements she’s most proud of, Hillary mentioned working with 9/11 victims and loved ones and making it legally possible for military widows to remarry without losing their benefits.

Serving the Empire State, she said, has been great preparation for new role on President-elect’s national security team.

“Representing New York is like representing the world,” she said. “I’ll be doing a job that’s well informed by the hopes and dreams of people here.”

Speaking about the work she hopes to do in her new role, Clinton said a renewed focus on women’s rights and increased resources for diplomacy will be among her priorities. She’s also benefiting from the experience of her predecessors, having spoken with all of the living Secretaries of State.

During a recent dinner, Condoleezza Rice recently shared her perspective after eight years on the job and a rigorous personal schedule that involves rising daily at 445 a.m. to exercise for an hour. With a smile, Hillary quipped—

“I’m gonna see what the world looks like from a later perspective.”

Continuing to strike a lighthearted tone, Clinton laughed about the time when she and Bill struggled to open a coconut in front of a curious young Chelsea (the president tried smashing it against a wall, Hillary opted to use a hammer).

When asked about the few things the public doesn’t know about her, limited singing ability and her first job -- cleaning gutted fish in Alaska topped the list.

“Sliming fish,” she said wryly, “was probably the best preparation for Washington.”

The best advice she received as a senator?

“Stay as connected with people as you can -- and keep listening.”

Hillary did exactly that after the Q&A was over, lingering for nearly 30 minutes to shake hands and pose for pictures with the dozens of supporters who stuck around.

All Smiles With the Secret Service Nearby: Hillary poses for a picture with one of many supporters after the event

As Hillary waved goodbye to the crowd, I felt like I had seen a different, more personal side of the woman who put 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling with her history-making presidential run. I look forward to seeing how she tackles her new role in America's next chapter.

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