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tv   Oral Histories Women in Congress - Susan Molinari Interview  CSPAN  October 14, 2021 9:30pm-11:17pm EDT

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coming up next, the congressman of guy mel honoree, talks about her own political career. for a series of oral history interview, as with women, who served in congress. the u.s. house of representatives, office of the historian, conducting this interview. >> my name is kathleen johnson, in today, i am with the head historian. the date it's january 8th, 2016, in the house recording studio, and we are pleased to be speaking with former representative, susan mullen are, a from new york. thank you for coming today. we are excited to be part of this project. >> this project we're working
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on is to recognize, and celebrate, the election of jeannette reagan to congress, the first woman. we have many questions who want to ask you today. but, first, off when you were young, did you have any female role models? we >> know. i had never thought about that question before, but i do know, looking into this little autograph book you have when you are very little, and you ask your, grandmother and mother to sign it, and they would say, what do you want to be when you grow up? i remember, looking back, and when i was and maybe second grade, it was flight attendant, or which we called stewardess at the time, or ballerina. that was, sort of, my notion of what women could be. so, no, it never occurred to me, certainly, never, to enter into politics, or to the front in center.
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i don't really have anyone that is young, that was female. we >> so, our did you first become involved? >> i come from a long line of politicians. my grandfather, in the new york state assembly. a father's in the new york city stimulate, then the president. i am an only child, and close to both of my parents. so, we would have sunday breakfast, and we would have elections of, who is going to be president of the day. so, you would say, you know, i will take us all to the zoo, and whatever you would promised, you would get to fulfill it. really, you learned a lot about to making deals, so that you could get that extra vote. we would have elected officials at our house, all the time. so, really, it was an area in which i felt quite comfortable. my dad didn't run for office until i was in high school, but there is that constant discussion of politics. he was always involved in campaigns. and, when my dad did run for politics, we continue to follow
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on his heels, and we found the debates, the protests, the campaigning, my friends and i, we would go with him, and would stick with him, so it sort of became something natural. never, at the time, going back to the question of whether there were female role models, and i thought that i would run for office. really, i just enjoyed being part of the world. >> do you have memories of your dad's congressional office, or attending special events on capitol hill? >> absolutely. i do remember my dad allowing me to come to the inauguration of ronald reagan. and then, going to some of the great events that surrounded the inaugural. so, i have very fond memories of that. i remember coming to watch my dad be sworn in, which was an amazing thing. to have him come to the house, and watched and be sworn in. so yes, i am very fond
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memories. that is going back to being torn away from my father, but, when he was in the new york center state of albany, i was in the new york state in albany, and they find every opportunity, to participate. and, oftentimes, he looked up to other members of the assembly, and i look at him, and, myself and would go to dinner, and there is a big trade. so, while we were cleaning up, we would then calculate the debates it would have the next day. sitting by the fire, drinking some food or something, but engaging in what the topic was going to be, the next day. and, the roles that they were going to play. they just left an impression. >> do you have a favorite memory of your dad serving in the u.s. house? >> so many great memories. my father's quixotic, in that that he never had walls, he just knocks them down.
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so, he just took on newt gingrich. he got into trouble for giving italians the word on the house floor. my dad was, very, bipartisan. he very much believed in the institution, as to oppose the polar the party. so, for that reason, my dad was teaching me the lessons of working with others. congressman sharks tumor, he saved a hospital those about to close, a public health hospital, and many other members, as a freshman member, because he didn't know better. because it wasn't supposed to be able to have that kind of cloud to figure things out. so, those are the memories i have my dad. my dad didn't walk around, he just took things down. >> why did you decide to run for congress in 1990? >> it was city council. that was my first elected
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office. that, was really, more just an opportunity that came up, and because i was always with my father, when you grew up in my family, you would go to our republican convention and county hall. they would say, who is going to nominate guy milan area for the new york state assembly? he would say, my daughter. i learned to speak publicly before i was supposed to be afraid of it. so, really, because i was always active in his campaign, people came to me, and ask me, from a young age, to consider running from office. so, the position opened up to go to new york city council, and i've been working in washington d.c., to give me a chance to go back to new york city. and it would give some very good exposure. if they would figure out what to do next, and get to know the right people in new york city for a job and public relations. but if you go out there?
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what if you start to meet the people? once you start to shake hands, and hear about their concerns are, you can figure out, maybe, actually, i can do this. i can fix their problems. i became so convinced that you have to win. so, i ran for new york city council when my dad, decided, to run for president. rudy giuliani asked my father to run for borough president, to increase the republicans on staten island. my mother was diagnosed, not long before that, and threw away from home, for the right thing. so, he ran for borough president, and one, which left off in his congressional data. it was always just a dream come true for me, watching him, following him, and following the discussions, and the debates, to have an opportunity to serve in the united states house of representatives. it was probably about the highest honor i could think of. >> what was his reaction we
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told him he wanted to run? >> oh, horror. when i told him i wanted to run for new york city council, he opened up, and took out a card and he said to me, take this, keep it in your bag, because you will need it. it's a tough business, but it's a beautiful business. my father, always, he is the true public servant. so, he always thought that this, and his daughter, or anybody who would ever say, i would like to run for office, he would never discourage. even though he would worry, sometimes, it would be rough and tumble. but, the ability to serve your neighbors was something that, if you had the opportunity to do it, you had to. >> what role did he play in your campaign? >> it was interesting. iowa he was, more, my emotional adviser, if you will. of course, i had this campaign, i was so blessed, because i had his campaign manager, his
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fund-raiser, and a really great political apparatus. so, my dad was the guy who would say, okay, you have two hours in the middle of the day, look at the train station, and on, and on, and on. so, again, he was the campaign cheerleader, and he would say, i know it's a rough day, but you did well. he had the perspective of being that candidate, that said when you're faced with that emotional uncertainty of how humid, or how it is all going, he could be a real oasis, a real place of calm. >> i think every member of the house has a very distinct memory of that first election to the house. for you, were there any key moments, or turning, points on that 1990 special election? >> it was just -- it's a jumble. nick especially the day of a
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special election. there was a lot going on, and some came in for the special election. because it is a special election, you are given the intensities of your political parties. they sent people in from out of town. everybody in the world office to come in, to speak in your district, to do a fund-raiser. so, it just became a wonderful -- and i know the media focuses on special elections. so the intensity, i think, is something i remember. it's when i first took up running, because i needed to, showing how old i am, go out with my walkman. the kids will say to the screen, hey, what's a walkman? i needed to, because it was the only time i could be by myself, without everyone telling me what to do, and what to say, and how to address. so, it was that to avoid the commotion. >> you mentioned, on the new york city council, you had that prior political experience.
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how does that compare with your health service? >> interesting question, because i was in the new york city council, i was the only republican in city government. so, i was the minority leader. i was 27 years old, and so, i, all of a sudden, became ex official ceos on opportunities, and have somebody who had to negotiate new york city's entire budget, i was one of four people who had an office in city hall, and, really, i was fortunate to serve under mary and coke, taught me a lot about politics. i had great metrics around the way. it was very fair, even though i was the only republican. he gave me access to his, staff and his teams. so, i had to grow up. in terms of that. you would have a debate on the floor, and where they would say, one democrat would stand, i would have to stand up and defend, and another democrat would stand up to defend. you needed a good opportunity
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on your debating skills. there was no one else there to do it. but, the issues that you handle in the new york city government, it's quite magnificent as well. it didn't carry. i guess the national, and international, is quite important for being in the united states congress. i was privileged to serve, at least my first, here under george bush. no one really gets to say that there was another leader, who have such respect for members of congress, in and out, or negotiating things, with a civil rights transportation bill, and disability. so, they put forward some amazing pieces of legislation. they were all very active in that, as members of the political party. so, they were taking on issues on a bigger stage. >> you mention the fact, you are only 27 when you joined the
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new york city council, but, you were in your early thirties when he campaigned for the house. with age and issue? >> he was on my 32nd birthday. age, very much, was an issue. particularly when iran, the first time. to those of you who can, see i'm five foot two. so, i have looked shorter, and younger. people always told me to address better than i was. so, i think, age wise, in my first campaign, the gentleman who ran against me would, constantly -- and this is the kind of race, mention the fact that he was, married he had children, he had a, how she had a mortgage. he tried to bring in his life experience to say, now, here is at the time when we're, running 31-year-old who has only been in public life recently. so, when you're that young, being in new york city council, i was a standout as the only republican, being so young. there was a significant amount of women in the new york city council who are strong, and
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smart. so, ironically, that was not an issue with my first job in politics. >> whose gender important issue during our house campaigns? >> it wasn't, for me. but it was, for my opponents. gender, yes, always was an issue. and it would be the whisper campaigns. again, once the younger female who's going to try to tell people what to do, and what is the whisper? on the other hand, the voters are pretty cool people, and the people i represented in staten island, and brooklyn, i think. to the older people, i was almost their granddaughter, or their daughter's. so, i did not feel it from the voters, and all. >> can you describe the district for, us geographically, and demographically?
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>> it has changed a lot. the district of staten island, and part of brooklyn, my logo was i would connect the two parts of the district. at the time, it was, predominantly, italian american, irish american, and a large jewish population. very ethnic, second, third, generations. probably second generation in brooklyn, maybe third by the time but they moved to staten island. really, lively, lovely, just a terrifically warm, place where everybody knew everybody, and usually, they did. it is one degree of separation in the district, as it was then. so, it was a really gracious place to live, and serve, and have my first may be. >> resting down here in your campaign, but what about when you were elected? today offered any advice? >> dad worked quite a lot, and did a lot of coordinating.
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so, starting off, when i was on city council, we would talk about needing a new ferry, and i could say, look, at talk to the appropriators, i think i can work some of the magic. when we switched, in the midst of building a senior citizens club, in the basement of a church, which i was getting a hard time for, but, i made at promise that he was going to take up to staten island homeport, and then it became my job, for those commissions. so, yes, my father would give me back. my father is an amazing political and human. 78 years old, and so one of the smartest politicians i know. it would not be unusual for him to call me, and say, this would be a great issue for you to jump on, and i heard someone who's running in office to do this. most of the time, it was a more collaborative relationship we had, in trying to work together, to bring the resources at the federal, and the city, together, for staten island, and brooklyn.
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>> are there any challenges, or obstacles that were succeeding? you talk about some of the advantages. >> for me, self-imposed, and they are trying to tarnish the legacy? >> you just philip this person with an amazing background resume, and ability to command. speaking passion, and they totally screwed this up. i mean, that was more my concern, than anything, in terms of the pressure. that was something i put on myself. i think the fact that i was female, my stances were, and still are, so different, that it made me a little easier for us to lay our own groundwork, if you would. then, of course, i got the benefit of being in a majority, which you never got to be, and all the years you served. and that, really, does give you a whole opportunity to get
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things done. >> what was it like to be there, and be sworn in, and to succeed your, father directly? you are the only second women in congress to directly succeed your father. >> amazing. amazing. i was so blessed in my life for those moments. what i think about standing there, giving that speech with my dad, who i'm sure we all had those moments where we would say, my dad didn't say it was great, or remember going in and saying, there was a teaching assistant ship, and then on to the next. he was the person who would say, i remember these little things. dad, all of my dad's got a dollar for getting in on their report card. and he would say, cool, i want you to get an a because you want in a. if you need a dollar, i'll give you a dollar, but there's no connection there. so i always sort of felt it wasn't good enough, and then there was that moment that i said, on the house floor, i could see it in his eyes.
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it was a game-changer in our relationship. >> another type of question we want to ask you about, was a couple of handouts we showed you before the interview. the second, one, there is from your dad. we didn't know if you had any sort of stories, even if not that particular button from your dad, but campaigning, in general, and some of the materials that you may have used? >> we were big into the lawn signs, and all the other things. but, we did a lot of that stuff. so, you would have these grueling conversations about a new generation of leadership, who would be read, who would be white, and you put a lot of thought into that. i remember thinking, in one of my dad's first campaigns, one of the slogans i came up with was give guy a try. i'm proud of that one. they would be on his buttons.
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we would have those conversations, back and, fourth about, worked it didn't work. i was given a great opportunity, because my dad was so popular, that, when i did run for his seat, he was president in many of my documents. and then, rudy giuliani who hasn't mayor yet, but, was still extremely popular in the district i ran in, would come in. you're so good you flew, at the time. >> on that top campaign button, yours, from one of your early campaigns, who came up with that generation, a new generation of leadership? >> all of us. we were trying to do the generational thing. both the separate my folks from my dad, but also, for those who are following on the kennedy-esque -- not to compare myself to the president at all, but, the benefits of having someone younger.
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getting into politics. so, i think that is what we were trying for their. >> when you first came to the house in 1990, there was 28 women. have you found, because there was so few of you, that women gravitated towards each other? >> yes. i think we still do. i still consider reading pelosi a dear friend. there is much to say about the conversation of women being able to come across a congressional body, and make things happen. i had, always, worked with the violence against women act, and now we're working with things that aren't going to move. we would have those conversations. we had the women's caucus, where we would meet. and then, we were kept all together on those issues. of course, we would disagree on
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many of these issues, without the disagreed with an understanding, and a respect. -- what was the atmosphere like for you, when you entered the house? was it an welcoming atmosphere? >> yes. honest to goodness, -- here is how i look at it. everybody that we worked with had to rely on women to get elected. so, whether they liked women, or not, or felt they were their equal, they learned all of those things that the things that were happening, and are still happening to, women all over, get a little veiled over in the united states, kind of. the truth is, the rest of the country response and kind. there were ceos, and other people, who, may, have served under circumstances, had some issues with women in power. but, because you were a woman in power, they would not treat you like that.
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so, quite frankly, i never really felt discriminated against as female, until i left politics. >> were there any parts of the institution that were, maybe, more difficult to get into? or, somehow, fit into? if so, why do you think that is the case? >> this isn't a slower change, and i think both political parties, and the people who are institutionalist, and there are more diversity in the united states, there and we were welcomed, and i was able to move quite quickly. in the republican party, i move quickly, because i was a female. i remember being called to be part of a press conference, and i would go in four vice chair of the republican conference, and even though i was a moderate from new york, one of the reasons i did win, was because there is a recognition they needed women in leadership, and a moderate.
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so, i did into this institution at a time when diversity was not present, but, was recognized this isn't a city, and a good thing to have. i did benefit from, that is opposed to being hampered by it. >> did you have any members, female, or male, who served as a mentor to you during your first term in congress? >> you know, everybody has them. i really can't pick one, or the other. i met with on a late, men and later, on debra price, and we spent a lot of time together. sometimes, you have a group that would consist of those two women, and my now husband, bill paxton, because of that. we would go, or do things together, spend more time together. but, i never felt --
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jay farai helped to be talking to office, and then came, in and then campaigned against me. never, i felt that women wouldn't be there. again, nancy pelosi, we would do what we could, and she would do what you could tell me politically. you get where the line is drawn. but, there are relationships i will always cherish. and then, trying to get married, and have a baby. and that, there is a piece of advice from women who had been there, who were, really, quite comforting, and helpful. and, i think we stood each other up. i remember getting an award, a glamour woman of the year award, and pat was there at the former, and the county was there the former, and we heard peter hooker there, and we all just happen to be going out at the
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same time. we would ask, do you hear the story that's breaking? it's happening in the armed services committee, which organized to, meaning shortly thereafter. it must have been advocated by susan at the time. and then, they would organize this meeting where the generals had to come in and i think it was that, there was issues, and say we are going to challenge the way things have been to. and. and she is great, and she is tough, and she is smart, and all of that, but i think we all stood each other up in those moments. we would all say, this isn't just for us. then, once you have a baby girl? well, all of that changes, you want to change the world for her. >> how important do you think it was for you, and other women members, to have a separate space in the capital? what is, now, the lindy boggs
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area? >> it's important. it was nice to just have those areas to go to when you had a headache, when you want to read something. even, if you wanted to seek out colleagues to have a discussion about a decision you had made, you a testimony you had made, or wanted that sacred space. i think it is helpful. >> are there any other places you would go to meet? either formally, or informally? >> every once in a while, we would get a group of pro a rich modern fray, but we have just walking, so we had to see the party when she got engaged. so, you had to do a little bit more of that stuff together. >> you had mentioned women's caucus, earlier. and, we are just wondering if we can get you to elaborate a
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little on your memories of the women's caucus. just basically, when did it mean. >> we did lead from the wendy boggs room, off of statuary hall. it was a smaller group then. we would talk about some of the issues, and an example is, i remember, there was an issue surrounding the efficacy of breast implants. one of our female members had breast cancer, it was talking about reconstruction. and then, at the time, the felt it was a little cavalier, and not understanding, and the discussion that was taking place, and i've been really cosmetic. really, we had rallied around this one member to say, how do we help? how do we expand the conversation? when there were some disagreements of the violence against women act, we would
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have to say, okay, here is how we will handle this. we will move this through, and we will do these things. you guys have to stand down, and not call us by a bad name. we would have those conversations, that would allow us, to actually, acknowledge the difficulties, in a difficult time of our political party, and where we agreed, to disagree, we would not come about. >> so, a major issue, certainly, that has come up in women's history,'s reproductive rights. how did you, and other members of the caucus, handle that issue >> ... it would come up -- it wouldn't come up as much as it comes up now. it would come up, mexico city, some of these other issues. women in the military, on armed services. i think it was more just making
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certain that the conversation from those political parties recognized that we were speaking to the american people. with all disagreements and hoping to keep a level of dignity to the discussion. and i think that was probably the biggest role that women played on both sides. >> do you ever think that that issue or other issues undermined the effectiveness of the caucus? he talked about the importance of bipartisanship. >> we are all different people. we are different ages, came from different political parties, different philosophies. those political parties have different philosophies and a different geographic spectrum. there were issues on which we would certainly disagree. but on issues like abortion and reproductive rights, i think we
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recognized that women needed to be a part of that conversation, i opposed to just being the people who listen to the conversation. or lead the end of the debate. who had to deal with the impacts of those debates. so i think more than trying to change one another's position, it was to celebrate the fact that there were women part of the discussion. >> how important do you think the pro-life and pro-choice debate was for you personally? especially within the republican party? >> once again, i think i was pro-choice, then i'm pro-life now. in some ways it very much hampered me. because there was a very conservative wearing of the party. not just my colleagues but the people who would make money off a fund raising.
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when they targeted me, and when i ran for vice chair, they went all out to campaign against me. whatever character that they could plan. but at the same time, i think it also made me a fighter and made me, a force, forced me to be tougher. it was sort of the secret. at least it was back then. we were constantly being harassed. sometimes being underestimated is a good thing. you can always put in the surprise. i remember a lot of my debates, we the people i was debating didn't take me carry seriously, until i got up there and then it was too late. i think the same thing happens when negotiating across the table for a piece of legislation. >> just, again, to look at the women's caucus in broader terms, what role do you think it has played in the institution and
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was a significant? as a changed over time? >> it was very significant for me. to be able to, again -- sometimes it wasn't just those meetings. what would happen in those meetings. but the relationships that developed as a result of the meetings. and this isn't just women. this is human nature. but the more i know about your husband being sick, or your child having an addiction problem, or somebody having cancer, or great things happening in life. you know, your daughter expecting, whatever it is. it allows you to communicate and have more honest and productive communication. you can't demonize someone who you know is a full person, with all their faults and strengths and heart breaks and celebrations. and so i think more than anything, just taking the 435,
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and bringing the 31 of us together, give us an opportunity to get to know each other on more of a personal level. which made a lot easier to then go ask for a favor, asked for floor time, take something. it made it a little more comfortable, being a member of congress. >> a place to meet that was somewhat reminiscent of the political sphere. >> exactly, somewhat removed from the political sphere. although obviously politics was discussed on a way different level than you would when you were down on the house floor. >> when you had an issue that the majority of the caucus really did rally around, did you feel that the rest of the membership, the of the caucus as a group to be reckoned with? >> no doubt. [laughs] the men would joke about it. when they saw six women together, like, here comes trouble. but you knew they were a little nervous. there was no doubt about the fact that if the women's caucus
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were on something, it was something that was going to have an impact. we could all agree, if we could all unite, we would make it happen. l ittle>> shift gears? >> sure. >> we will shift gears a bit and talk about your committee assignment. >> sure. >> we are curious as to how you obtain initial assignment on small business, the public works and transportation. did you get any advice in terms of committee assignments? >> particularly back in those days, when you are a freshman, you didn't really have a lot to say. and you weren't going to go for the big committee assignment. it just wasn't happening then. it has since changed. but back in the day -- so my daughter is a transportation guy loved transportation. and so that was something i really wanted. and asked for. and i did get on education and labor. and that was very interesting,
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i had a great time with that. and then they sectioned off education and labor. john kasich asked me to go on -- and we balance the budget for the first time in a generation. that was some great stuff happening there. i digress into a female story. i got education in labor. and was a proponent for family and medical leave in the republican party. i remember john boehner, at the time, he was eloquently waxing on how government should not be telling businesses what to do and that this was up to the boards and the chairman of the board and they should be able to make their own policies. and he should be able to -- and he just went on. and i said, i totally agree with you, that in a perfect world, that the boards and the businesses should be able to
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make these decisions. but based on your own discussion, were you consistently referred to the people in power as he, i think until then we have to help out a bit. [laughs] and good for boehner, because he did not get mad at me. he took it in the spirit in which it was intended. that was one of those moments where i'm not sure -- i'm not sure any other manned on the stage heard what i heard. >> one question we've been asking a lot of our interview worries, how important do you think it is to have a woman's perspective on these committees? >> it's important to have a woman's perspective. it's important to have an african american perspective, a hispanic perspective. we all breathe and bring that portion of our lives to that table. right? to not have that background, that experience, that specialness, that uniqueness,
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to any debate, we know something, we lose something as a country. the more diverse we become, the better it will be, because you hear and speak and reflect differently. you represent differently. and so things are changing. they need to change more rapidly. but i do you think that the debate becomes better. and the decisions become pharaoh, when there's many people representing others coming to the table. good lord, we are talking about women being 51% of the population, we should be doing this show about men. [laughs] the majority of the electorate and we are still considered representative of a minority. >> when you said in the 1990s, it's not that long ago, historically, and quite often you are one of the few women on these committees. what was the welcome or the reaction that you received on the committees?
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>> an overwhelming majority of the people here are good people and here for the right reasons. particularly back then, there was this collegiate level of respect. again, i think there was -- you would get a kick out of me because i wasn't afraid to debate and get a little tough when necessary. so i never felt any resentment whatsoever for being the only female of a committee. for example, the one i gave with john boehner, that example, which from a time when it was considered a challenge, a challenge that we all picked up. when we pretty much accepted and we were taken well by her female male colleagues. >> we also read on your book, the attempt to get on the appropriations committee at one point. >> yeah, back in the day that
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used to be a really good assignment. >> can you tell us about trying to get on and how that worked? >> again, appropriations was the committee where you could get a lot done for your district. n projeand bring a lot of projen infrastructure. people had my interest in transportation, and representing new york city, it was something i wanted to do. but i was up against another new yorker for the position, who is much more conservative. and as i found out in the debates, in who was going to get the position, it was because i was moderate, pro-choice, couldn't get on appropriations. >> when the republicans took control of the chamber 1995, you had the chance to chair the committee on transportation. >> yes. >> i was the experience like and how would you describe your leadership style? >> i loved it.
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i was given the opportunity to chair the railroad subcommittee. one of the things i loved about the transportation committee is that so much of what you do involves really important conversations about changing human behavior. if you are talking about reproductive rights, civil rights, welfare reform, you are having a conversation that is not as easy, and if you will excuse the expression, concrete. the trains will run better. so that's where you deal with on transportation. what's more american than the investment and creation of our railroads? so i love doing that. i love working with the real ceos, tough group of risk takers. and i really enjoy that as a challenge. another thing i did, what is
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the way i would do my hearings -- you would always have people, let's say, you are doing something on a reform on short rail. people will travel from all over the u.s. to testify. as well as the head of the federal rail administration and dot. and it's supposed to be the head of dot that testifies first, then everyone will come in, then he would finish, then half the people would leave. then the people that didn't get paid to come testify, 27 people would go vote, they would be testifying before me and one of the person. and so the federal rail administrator had to hear them, i decided to see that whoever
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put in the most effort testified first. and this is, you are doing your job here when they are sitting here testifying, you are not. >> was there any one particular issue before the subcommittee remember from that time? >> well, it just goes to show how slow the wheels turn. train track reform. i was dealing with a group of republicans who wanted to defund amtrak. amtrak was and still is an aberration that loses money. and i was trying to negotiate a deal that would allow us to reform amtrak, work like a business, because right now so much a statutory. and they are written in. so i was testifying before the rules committee -- having this bill, it basically gave power to the people at amtrak, to make their decisions
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as a business. and i remember some person said, well, if i vote for this, well i still have my route through my district? and i said, well, with all due respect congressman, and he was a republican, i said, i'm trying to take us out of it. and the people who have to make it more deficient efficient, have them deal with it. and he said, so it could go away? and he said, well, bleep, i'm not voting for this. so in terms of the things that govern the rail system, they make it impossible to not lead to vote. so we really learned a lot. aviation safety was something that was a big issue for my dad. of course coming from the district that i came from, coming from kennedy, that was
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something that i became interested in. and then of course all the other issues that came down the pike. >> that would be a good point. let's take a two-minute break here. >> we are back, we wanted to shift gears, and move on to leadership. we are just curious, what was behind your decision to run for leadership, after the 1994 elections? >> i think part of it is their own system. and it is a woman in leadership, we and they kind of ran in all of those. it's a general perception, that only one of us could win. there would only be room for one woman, even though the rest of the leadership was. we attributed to our colleagues,
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and i think i came up first. once i won, the guy who is running, there would, say she winds. we only have room for one here. it's funny, i haven't even thought about that and so long. a lot of that is, i think it is good for the party. i think it is great to have additional voices. defense, and discussion, it was not only tolerated, it was welcomed. the republican party thought it was important to have people you have disagreements with. again, you don't get into the motives of what they're doing, it's all about that big tent. the people who nominated me were quite conservative, from rural areas. again, showing the importance of this many people, and it is a working majority. so, we're working on that >> that's so, were you recruited by anybody?
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so why did you select the vice chair to run after? >> there are people who came up to me, and they said, i think you should do this. we need a woman. we need someone who is comfortable speaking, and disagreeing, and all of those things. so i did think about, and decided, i would give it a shot. very much, i lived in my life as i would much rather make mistakes, then live without them. again, those mistakes only hurt anybody about myself. there is this moment of they should do them new york psych will, and it is scaring the leadership, and what they can, listen again, they have to do this. >> not much is written on what is coming inside of this thing, so, can we describe a little bit about that campaign, and what it's like? >> it's more than just compacting people.
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you don't really get anywhere without asking people. as an elected official, what is the one thing we do have to learn? it was driven by hundreds of people, who are reading them about, and writing checks, and talking to their friends, and they get the job. they get the satisfaction of being on a winning team. those are the kinds of things that you do, and everybody likes. so, you try to have meetings with as many people as possible, and i do think, i was running against a great guy named cliffs turns, and i have people who would come up to me and say, oh, who knows of this is true or not. we have become such close friends at the gym. the gym, i'm not allowed into? back in the day, we have separate gyms. so, there was a little bit like that. i don't necessarily need that, but, it was another one of those occasions where you interacted not as members of congress, but it's people who are trying to lose weight, or just as a relationship in
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another area. it is going on, and then i wasn't allowed to be in the houston. i had to overcome that, from a relationship standpoint. so, it is just another defense. did anyone run your campaign, or similarly act to push again? >> i surround myself with strong political people. we it is going to fill it with others. so, it was pretty helpful. we >> at the time, when you're the highest ranking woman and gop leadership, it, is also, from a larger perspective of the party. >> it is a great, incredible honor, we and it is a history
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that will go for it. to be able to be sunny. there is this that goes on, but, it's really cool when someone comes up to me and says, i used to watch or when i was going up, and that's when i decided to go into politics. there is that. so, we need to have this person who looks like you, in order to give you the confidence, in the idea, that you can. it is going in there, and the need that politics ordinarily. we it is young people growing up, and saying, that could be me. she's not that different from me. >> and for the party? >> i think it's important for any movement. any movement that wants to attract people to it need to ensure that they are
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represented by people who can connect with others. so, i think that is probably one of the reasons why eli won, because, again, those were the days when we were a big tent, and we were trying to get as many different faces as possible, out there, representing. speaking on behalf of the party. just agreeing with the party. >> earlier, we asked you about the importance of having women on different committees, but what about leadership? what do you think of the importance of that is? >> directing an agenda. part of what happens in leadership, and it is going on the forum. so, i could remember, there was still and this situation that was coming up, that would deny single people from adopting. so, i had to come to the table and, say really? are we the party that will say a single parent cannot parent
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well? which, of course, got all these grapes because all of these people who had been raised by single mothers that, a radiantly ran over and said, that is something that, i think, i had to bring it to their attention. dan, they reacted the appropriate way. that is just one reaction of being able to sit at the table, where you can have that situation, and for strange. and, that is going to still be active, and was, actually, a creation of one of his constituents. he came to me, and the republican leadership, he was the sponsor, i was the co-sponsor, then we flipped. then, i had gone to move and said, we really should be supporting this. we all agree on, it is not mandated, it's voluntary, it can go up to eight cents more, and it would go to the d.o.d. for a lot of the tracking they did with military personnel. and, we reach an audience we're
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having a battle with. so, they said, that's fine. great. but, the other changes, the post office disagrees with us. and i said, look, the post office does want those changes. i said that's fine, and you go back to those areas that the viability that was introduced, and i said, i can't do that. this was an understanding of how to do this. i got them on the house floor and i, said it's your call. i'm terrified to even have this conversation, but they say, they're pulling it up on suspension, which means, you don't have to go through hearings and everything. you just move it along. we have to make the changes recommended, and then reintroduce it. i, remember at that moment, we had someone come down and say hey, what's going on? and they said, just waiting for to be a member of the minority. there were so gracious of him. of course, we did whatever we needed to do to get it through. >> what was your welcome in the leadership circle? what are your memories of
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working with the other leadership folks from that time? >> great. again, i think there was a general understanding that we had just gotten into the majority, we didn't take it for granted, we know it was something we would have to work day, and day out. there was this kind of optimism, that now that we could control the agenda, and to a certain extent, our mission, that there would be an opportunity to be the party that could do breast cancer stamps, and moved some pieces of legislation, relative to women, and minorities. i think, initially, and those, days it was an excitement about, finally, getting their. but, not just getting there, really, working to make sure that we got in. so, there was a lot of the magazines. we had a day-long session, and there is a delay, and the communicator, us and we did these different tables, and of
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course, all the women members were there. then, we just said that we wanted to establish a dialogue with you. with magazines, and it's not just the people who we had the wall street journal. it was the people who read all of these other things, and magazines, that get the information. their political information, i mean. so, if you had an issue that you want to highlight, and to have that relationship, so you can call up and say, listen, we would love for you to feature this. so, we all did things like that. >> what were your primary sensibilities as vice chairman? >> i think, primarily, with boehner being the chairman at the time, the glorious thing about john boehner, is that even though he was speaker, it's a so much about him. he was chairman at the time, and i think he would run the meetings.
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people would come to me, probably, more in the other positions, if they had an issue that they wanted to bring up. it was appropriate to be brought, up in that they wanted to talk to something, because the conferences is where you, would really, get together, and airy or ideas, your concepts, and frustrations. but, a lot of the times, you are the first line of if this is the appropriate place for this. so, i would do a lot of that. >> did you start? it >> of course. >> how closely did you work with john boehner? >> a lot. very closely. >> were you involved, to any degree, with drafting in the implementation of the contract with america? >> no. i was there as one of the people that they talk to. so, the point of the contract was one of those things that would unify the republican party, as opposed to divide it. so, when pete, and a group of others came together, and they
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would have this concept, they would sit down, and they would talk to a lot of members of the time, just to make sure that what they were talking about, and the issues, how it was all spacing out, that they didn't have any issues that we weren't missing anything. really, it was very good at making it a collaborative effort. so, no, i was just somebody who had put my two cents in. and then, of course, campaigned, quite heavily on it that year. my husband and i got married, the year that we took the majority. so, we were quite high profile. we would go into, i think, 52 districts, and you didn't even know where you were. you wanted them to be here with you, because you couldn't remember where they were. so, what we would talk about, is the contract that. it was a game-changer, right? it was the first time. the whole point of the contract was to say to people, there's someone is asking you to change history. to give those republicans a
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chance that a majority. something that had not been done in a generation. so, we are just going to say trust, us here are ten things we will do within the first 100 days. so, whether you agree with the contract or not, i, think it's a good way to govern. people knew what they were going to get when they vote it. >> can you describe the atmosphere in the house during that transition to power? >> crazy. because, literally, we were having these mixes of legislations in 100 days. all the time, all the time. i never want to help during those times, because you are running between committee meetings, and hearings, and markups, and it was just insane. there is actually a funny saturday night live clip, with chris farley, where he kept rushing. and again, with all the employments to come with being in the majority, and the optimism, and the things that came with that.
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you can just think about ten major pieces of legislation, happening, and 100 days. it was crazy. >> what role did women republican members play during that period? besides the un leadership? >> i think women, on committees, and certainly, being spokespeople. there was, never, ever, an issue of if it was a press conference to be held, that women needed to be there, and women needed to be spokespeople, or women felt particularly strong about it. they would get that women up there. >> i don't think i want to make it sound like it was also great, and easy, but we did not wait to return, because you are female. they want to do out there, espousing, speaking, and doing talk shows, and getting on, particularly, cnn. doing whatever you needed to do to get the message out there, to be a messenger for the republican party. so, when you get a lot of that. >> one example of >> one big example of that was that you gave the keynote
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address at the republican convention in san diego in 1996. >> yes. >> with that event mean to you and how did you prepare? >> well, certainly, the greatest thing it meant to me was that i got to speak on behalf of somebody like bob dole. again, whatever your politics is, he's an american hero. so to be a part of that campaign was just such a terrific honor. to speak on his behalf and be a part of that convention was just the greatest. but the story there is, it's the first time i worked with a teleprompter. so foremost the day that i get to san diego, oh my friends are there, they are having parties. i am in this little trailer, learning to read from left to right. the way they work it, the
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podium stays the same, and there's a box underneath, and you get measure for how high has to the box has to be. so that the teleprompter can reach you. so the deal was, governor witman, who is going to introduce my district, and kasich went on before me. during that time, they would adjust the thing. john gets all excited, governor kasich. and he goes on much longer than he is supposed to. and he runs right into my time. i am right up against the hard out. california, 8:00, 11:00 done. so in the middle of the speech, she's done, we are cutting off at 11:00. i get there, governor witman can only run out, and i get out there and i can't see the prompter's. so there was that moment where
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i was like, really? you lose that. and you think,, should i say, ladies and gentlemen, we are having technical difficulties, should i say we are going to take a five second break? but you can't do that. to this day, every time i see john kasich on tv, i say, i will never forget! [laughs] by the again, wooden amazing honor, to be a keynote speaker, and to be a keynote speaker for bob dole. i love working with senator dole on so many issues. he's a guy, i got to know him, because we work together on several pieces of legislation. he was a freshman legislature. he does not do race or gender, he is a terrific guy. i had gotten to know him so well. and to have gotten that confidence from him is really
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neat. >> and his running mate to, jack kemp. >> and his running mate, jack kemp, afterwards, right. what an exciting time. >> we surprise that you are asked to give the address? >> so before the days of -- i guess, we were baptizing the baby -- so the children, both girls, were born on staten island. so sometimes we just couldn't collaborate. and we love our district so much. we wanted that piece of history to be with them. so i think they were baptized. and it was on his announcement tour. the old guy, traveling with the wife and kid, and we would go down, and his district would say, he had six or seven announcements. when we were in a bar, with a bunch of friends, having dinner, my mother-in-law was watching the baby, and larry king was
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on. and i can't remember, my press secretary -- i think, i remember they had beepers back in the day? and they said, senator dole is going to announce that you're going to be keynote speaker. i thought i was close enough that at least i would get it at four in the afternoon, and that was great. and they said, do you know who is going to nominate you? and i said, the only thing i know is that susan molinari is going to give the keynote. and they go, hey, can we get a cell phone to get through to larry king to call? so there's a cell phone in the kitchen and i'm on the phone. [laughs] thank you, senator! so it was a huge surprise. my husband had three more announcements for him. and i was like, okay, who are you to announce that i'm
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running for reelection? but here's my life. [laughs] >> he talked about your marriage. and this took place while you were a member of congress. >> yes. >> and for decades, sitting members didn't often marry -- well, females didn't. what was the reaction of your colleagues? >> bill proposed to me on the house floor. it was not public. but it was during those times when congress was in session but nobody was there. and mike multi, a democrat, he was in the chair. and we would meet, sometimes chat in the back. we ran into each other and he said, i just want to let you know, that i spoke to your mom and dad today. and then he handed me the ring and i was like, get up, get up. because mcnulty it's not
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something. and then later they had some legislation, i think it was aviation, they had a quorum call them. and there was this beautiful speech, i just want to tell everyone, before we get into this debate, there are some really great things that happen on the floor of house of representatives. and he made this speech about the beautiful things that can happen on the floor of congress. and then later there were all these one minute speeches them, congratulating us. people were very happy for us. >> what about your constituents? what was their reaction? >> they were thrilled, thrilled. we did so much press. just down from the capital the
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next day, taking pictures of us, they were taking pictures of us from other countries. and they must think, who are these people? and these constituents, they were so excited. i would go to a lot of bills events, he will go to my events. italians just love -- you know, the hugs in the cases. and try to teach them how to say things in italian. so very excited, really excited. it was lovely. >> were there any challenges or obstacles to being married to another member of congress? >> no, because you understand. i remember one time, i guess we were married. we were going to go to a movie and go out to dinner, and all of a sudden i got this call that there was an emergency meeting on a bill.
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and you could look at someone and say, i'm fairly sorry, but this is so important in my district, and we will go out tomorrow. and he would say, of course. and then he would have to look at my dad and say, i think my daughter is running for governor! my father would announce this to the press before we even had a discussion. so no, having someone who understood and respected that, that made it so much easier. once in a while, the travel would be an issue. because once we had susan, i would take her, and we would go back to our district. that was the only challenging part. so in terms of people understanding where you are going through, and needing help and patients, no, no, no. it's a gift. >> a couple of years later, you mentioned he had your daughter. you are one of a small group of
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women in office in the house to give birth. what was the response of your colleagues when they hear that you are pregnant? >> oh my gosh. right before me was aided green, pregnant right before me and so it wasn't quite the shock. because she had been there. the colleagues were so sweet, how are you feeling, he looked great, i tied yet? and that's when you become really close with your women colleagues. >> did you receive any advice from them. you mentioned enid greene mickelsen. >> no, not really. i think women sometimes often get barrage by advice that we don't need and don't want.
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but, more often, you are like, they've got together, we don't need it. but there's a lot of love. >> would a blowout blanche lincoln because she was also pregnant at the same time? >> yes, blanche got to be talking with me, and we got to be on some tv show, and they were like, everyone would use this as an opportunity for tv. and i remember there was mary landrieu was at that age where you would be just totally upstage as a mom. and blanche lincoln was pregnant the same time i was. it was great and there is probably no easier job than being in congress when you are having a kid. because no one is going to tell you not to bring your child around. so our babies who are constantly with us. but i had a quid in my room, and if i had a meeting, and he
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was sleeping, i would trade offices with my husband. and i would say, and whisper, hey, can i mean in your office? so it was very lucky. >> what was that, the media tension? what was that like? >> oh, the media tension. because not only was i the one of a few members married. but i gave birth the day before mother's day. so everyone is looking for that mother's day hook. i had a press conference, it was 14 hours labor, and then a caesarean. so after they took her, i started shaking. herbecause i was medicated. but i woke up the next day and it was not pretty. and they had pictures, me and my father, feeding the baby.
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the world media outside ready. all good, all good, though. all people should have such problems in life. i have a mother's day. it was a wonderful mother's day. the announcement is, i mean -- you had reels, and wheels and wheels of television coverage around the world. and then when i had katie, out in staten island, she is like -- [inaudible] [laughs] >> you mentioned a few minutes ago, you came back to work only a couple weeks after. did you talk about maternity leave with the leadership? was it ever discussed? >> no, because i didn't work for them. i work for the people of staten island. so i don't think it was an issue for me in terms of, well,
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these people are so wonderful. if i missed both because of being with my child, it wouldn't have been an issue at all. these are great, family people that would never come in. but again, i was giving the gift of being able to come back to work and bond with my baby. i'm a big proponent of family leave and maternity and paternity leave. i didn't have to make that decision. but we took the closets where you hang your coat and i got a piece of the dressing table. i have the crib there. there is no -- if season couldn't sleep, i would take her on the train. it's a little high, but just because she loved it, she would go right to sleep. so it did give me an opportunity. right after i had given birth, we were moving the vietnam wall,
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a replica of the vietnam wall. and it came to my district. and i felt very strongly about having to be there. so that sort of got me started, getting back. and you are younger, you do what you have to do as a mother that was just never an issue. but again i went back just because of the extraordinary circumstances. >> besides your husband, with other members that may have helped you out, if you had to go voter me with someone? >> i do recall, one time being on the house floor, who is one of those nights where you are voting until, well -- back in the day, you would vote sometimes until 11:00 at night. it has gotten hard, and so she was sleeping. i know this is hard for some people to picture, but tom delay, i was like, can you hold her? and he was great.
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there is nothing easier than making friends when you have no particular winner. >> you ready for the next election? >> sure. >> we're going to ask some general questions about women in congress. when jeannette rankin first served in congress, there is a lot of press attention that paid to her dress, and her demeanor, because she was a woman. and, also, we read that you made headlines because you wore pants, during your first floor speech. what was the reaction to that? >> it totally surprised me. we i have always been one of those people whose felt more comfortable and pants. and, so, i was giving it one minute, and the need to stay vigilant in this defense.
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so, i had nice black, so satin pants, and it was wonderful. and remember, if you remember this day, i had an expressive black jacket. it seems like a came back to the office, in the new york times, the daily news, they all called. literally, i thought to myself, i guess we are making news because young female pro defense, in new york city. it was pretty controversial, and then we started making the phone calls back, and then it turns out, i was the first female to war pants on the floor of representatives. that was him to gain stress rules, and the historical researcher, the best i can determine, it wasn't as set up in dresscoat, for females, when they were doing their things, because they didn't think there would be females on the house floor. but, yes, i was in a magazine,
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and i went on a bunch of regions. i, just, because i wore pants for the first time. >> this is all external, but your colleagues didn't comment? >> no. not at all. i mean, i would be surprised if they would have noticed. >> before we go too far ahead, i just want to give you a chance, for another story about the delegation that you land while you were pregnant. can you tell us about that? >> i got to be very close with a bubble during the former yugoslavia crisis. during that time, we had an arms embargo against them. what was happening, is there was funds that were still going in, in this area, but not to the croatians, and others. so, throughout the yugoslavian,
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former yugoslavian, area. so, i had been to croatia, and it really became touched by what was going on there, which were early stages of the genocide that was taking place. it became more, and more involved with a person who had remembered going to the vice president, or remember going to the secretary's. i'm never going to meet with madeleine, and then say, the crux of my speech was, i will not be the person. i will not be one of those people who will be in power juror to that gets forgotten about, and who talked about their ability to have this fear take hold. we were watching genocide take place, and it's not even like we have to see it through radio, it's on the front page of our paper, it's on the news every night, and we can do something. we could end the arms embargo, so that we could help. that was, actually, how we got to be quite close with the
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solutions together. so, i went to news, and i guess it was a senate minority, and we need to do something about. this we said, oh, okay, so than i did. you get called in, and of course, i would do it, because i wanted to waive consciousness. there was a lot of congressional boards that i had made up just the day before, but it was enough to get me into subject that i cared passionately about. so, i went and traveled a bunch of times, and it just never let up. so, in the women's caucus, we would work quite closely. there was the systematic language of what was occurring, all around the globe. but, because of the ethnic tensions, the soviet soldiers would come into a village, take all of the younger women, and would put them into a house.
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they would just systematically raped them until they got pregnant, and then keep them there, so they couldn't get an abortion, and then let them go. they wouldn't be welcome back for their families because they were impregnated. so, i remembered one of the young women who said that, and she had said to her daughters, and her family, and lied and said, my sister is sick, in wherever, and so even though bombs were going off where my kids, where i had to leave them, because i knew that my life would not be pretty there, and that once and the, maybe i could go back. so, women's groups are bringing women to talk to, us that we can understand how horrific the situation was over there, without anybody doing anything. so, right when we were considering sending peacekeepers, they had come to me and said, we are going to send a congressional delegation over, with about 25 men and women, and i would like you to lead that delegation. i was four months pregnant at the time.
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he was in the back, playing with me, but still, i went over. it was an interesting time, because i would be interviewed by christina anápolis, who was interested in this issue, it was clear that i was pregnant, and i would get the mail from people that would say, how do you go to this area when you are pregnant? certainly, i got to go face to face with many, as a female, who wouldn't take any of this crap. i was pregnant, and i was lined up there. where has the world gone wrong for me? we so, at the end, we were moving into sarajevo, to meet with the president at the time. and all of these people are standing outside, applauding us, and send peacekeepers, send peacekeepers, they wanted the u.s. to come in, and help. so, as we were walking in, there was a woman who grabbed
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my hand to say, please, please, please do or need to. we can't continue like this. so, you need to help us. america needs to help. us and i said, that's we're here, forward to as many things as we can, and will bring it back. she grabbed my hand, and touch my belly and said, i just lost my only son. you will be a mother, you need to help me. so, i got some criticism for going. as somebody who was about to have a baby, but, relative to the conversations that we were having, i think it increased my perspective on what's needed to be done. sorry about that. >> that's fine. >> how influential was that for the colleagues went with you? >> it was extremely influential.
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it was bipartisan, and i think, just the ability to give information back. we were talking to the world leaders, we were talking to our people in our state department, and people who were able to let them know that we had the situation, what it was like. we, we're still, living with this concept that these people had been at war with each other, for so long, and they will never learn to get along. i actually remember saying, not to keep bringing up the mother side, but, i do not believe that there is a mother who loves their child less than they hate their neighbor. so, nobody wants this to continue. so, we were able to be on the ground to see that, that everybody, that we could end this war, and it would end. so, i think it was influential. coming back at that point, we started working closely with vice president gore. because, they didn't want to make sure that they had republican support for this.
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and, i think we were able to make, it really, a very nice, important, history making decision. >> were there other women on that with him? >> i'm sure there was. but, i couldn't tell you. >> that's a large group. >> it was a large group. >> again, i think we wanted this many people to meet, and if you go back, and be a partisan debate, because of the serious steps we were taking. >> how important, do you think, these delegations were just to see a different side of members, and get to know each other? >> there is no doubt, the travel, which is something that people -- i never went on the glamorous ones. i went to the persian gulf war. i went to israel. if there was action, that's where i wanted to be. i didn't want anything glamorous. but, there is something to be said about the fact, again,
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going back to the conversation of people getting to know one another, outside of the floor. being able to spend time together. then, you travel as americans, and members of the u.s. congress. republicans, and democrats, and it doesn't make it a lot easier to collaborate at that time. so, i think when members had their families here. it is -- our wives, our husbands, our friends, when the kids go to school, i think it is harder to demonize you on the debate, and on the floor. i remember being a church a couple years ago, and i was still doing some politicking, and punditry. and so, i looked over, and i looked at it and i said, is anyone picking on robin? you have those moments.
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there are those times when you are all together, and you're having a serious conversation about where you will be sending u.s. troops. these are things that allow you to come back, and trust each other with the debate. and again, having that moment with you, and i'm going to disagree with, you but i will disagree, with you respectfully. i think those trips were, very, very important. not the least of which is, to bear witness to what goes on in the world, and to bring it back. i know there are people who have a tendency to break that they didn't have a passport, but i think, when you are elected to the u.s. house of representatives of the united states senate, you do call the president a leader of the free world. it's nice to be able to get to know places outside of the united states, in order to make appropriate decisions. >> this is just a wrap up
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question. because, when you served, there was relatively so few women in congress, at that time. do you feel that you didn't only represent your constituents, but, you represented a larger group of women, nationally? >> no doubt. again, you felt that you are representing a larger group. i don't want to say pressure, because i enjoyed it, but, i felt that there was a lot out there, and if you see on tv, there were a lot of issues that, i, felt were important. and,, again, it is twofold. we all bring our experiences to a discussion, and there are all different experiences. so, very seriously, i do take the experience of being a female. bringing that to the discussion. i was at one of those people, who would go up to somebody and say, they did this, and i said, i wouldn't be the female legislator. and i totally respect that.
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but, that was not me. i was going to be the female legislature. there's a lot going on, with regards to that. and in the case, i was going to be the female. so, i said at that, time it was the reason why i was there. so yes, i was working on behalf of my constituents, and on behalf of the issues i was concerned about. there were all those things that the republican party, that women, or a light up there. enough of which being, that somebody would come up to me and say, i remember watching you on tv, or i heard you give a speech, and that is why i decided to take this. and then, they decided to run for office, but they decided to take a chance. and i think, really, that is important. >> you've touched on a lot of legislative examples, but in that regard, there is what political scientists call, surrogate representatives. was there one moment where the sticks out in your mind? on how, boy, this issue, where i am speaking, as a national
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representative? >> so, interesting really, during the crime bill, president clinton -- i voted against the rule, because it was a closed role. so, even though i was for the gun control that was in there, it meant a lot of money for new york city, mayor giuliani, commissioning people out, but when the opposing party presents a rule that doesn't allow your party to present any amendments, i was obliged to vote against it. it killed the bill at the time. so, they brought five of us together who want to support the bill, and wanted to negotiate some amendments. and, also, the basis of it is what we're living through right now, which is bill cosby, which is in the case of them, and
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there is one word against the other. so, there are so many similarities, that they are oftentimes are, where the judge would determine that it wasn't prejudicial to bring these instances in. and, so, all of these cases where they would speak where a man was charged with rape, and you could prove that there is an allegation, or even a conviction of a rape that had occurred. women say, hi, blond hair, wearing tennis shoes. there is a pattern there. and the guy would get convicted and it would always be overturned. so that sort of became my thing in the crime bill. so i had to negotiate with people on that, -- who i absolutely adore, for many reasons. i had to negotiate with 20
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people before they brought them in. he was head of judiciary. you could tell they just wanted nothing to do with it. first of all, we were in the minority. so here's a young majority with the presidents signature piece. it was tough, he was fair, and he treated me like an equal. and i love him for so many reasons. so many reasons. i think he is just such a gift for this country. but on a personal level, i saw him during croatia. but that was a piece of legislation that eventually passed. and i was part of the presidents crime bill. i think there are about 55 or 60 republican members who supported the crime bill. >> some of the major issues that affected women, sometimes you were in the republican
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party where not all republicans supported it as well. so what do you do with the family medical leave act? >> if i felt there was a way to actually -- i would work with the leadership to try and get it done. if i felt that this was something that philosophically was not going to happen, i would work with members to discuss it in a way that was not off putting. sometimes the father knows best way of handling these conversations. and so, i would try both ways. again, to try and get people to perhaps listen to where i thought they were wrong. where i could change their minds. but if that was in the case, to get them to speak more graciously. about their disagreements.
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>> where they often receptive to that? >> i think they were. most people here are here for the right reasons. and they bring their experience to the table. and i remember one time, i won't name the individual. but one of the nicest, sweetest, kindest gentlemen who was very old by the time i was there. and he yielded the floor to me. one of the most gracious individuals who did not have a bias bone in his body. but he yielded the floor to the little lady from new york. he came up to me, and said [inaudible] . it happens sometimes. it was a 30-year-old member, if it was a 30-year-old member, it would be taken in a much different way. he had always been kind in a very fair and that was his way.
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sometimes you have to -- weed everything in life, you have to look at the person. not just the topic at hand. >> in the late spring of 1997, he surprised a lot of observers by saying you are stepping down and going to retire, change careers. why did you decide to leave congress? >> for a couple reasons. primarily, as if i've not talked about myself to enough during this interview, but my father took this job as a 24/7 job. my dad would be down with dinner, and it was nothing else going on, he would go through the phone book. i know this guy, -- i mean, he just lived and breathed this. he love this job but it's two jobs. don't cry for me argentina, but
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when the media says congress is on vacation, they are not, they are back in their districts doing what they're supposed to do. and if you want me to throughout the first baseball at little league baseball, you want me to come to a boy scouts award, this is a big deal. so wherever you want me, i'm going to be, all the time. so i would do that, friends would come over, take care of my daughter, she had no idea. but i missed her. and then i would be with her. and i felt guilty about not being at your kid's eagle scout award. so when i got the opportunity -- to anchor a show on cbs, which was more political than expected. it was two days a week. it seemed like a good opportunity. and i felt the need to say, that was a decision i made, because of where i was in my
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life. i had great friends and their kids are great. and they were great parents. this is not, like, i hate the tutorial of who is a better mom, the mom works or doesn't. this is just what it was like for me at the time. so that's the decision. >> i want to ask you on legislation, a broad legislation question. in the nineties, what do you think was the most important piece of legislation passed that have a direct impact on women? >> oh, i'd have to think about that one. going back to the nineties. ... i think certainly -- and this happened before, right? the violence against women act. i don't know if young people can appreciate the fact that --
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i served on mayor giuliani's commission on the status of women, the chair of that. and i was at that time, in the mid 1980s, that we were actually dealing with the fact that there were mandatory arrests. and i remember the discussion about family violence being something like this. it's a family matter, you go to the door, usually the gentlemen, get him to take a walk and get him to cool down. and ask, do you want to press charges? and even if the woman was intoxicated and said, no, done, closed the books. compare that to where we have gotten as a society today. i remember even my dad sitting there, hearing female victims, being shocked by what they had to go through. with the situation. it was a family secret. and then all of a sudden it
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became political. right? people wanted to cosponsor the violence against women act. people wanted to talk about domestic violence as a political issue. and that's what needs to be done. and any of these things. right now we are working on underage sex trafficking, and all of a sudden it's become an issue that has become political. the senate passed it, a major piece of legislation. it passed both the house and the senate, republicans and democrats. but i think the violence against women at, and it reauthorization, was one of those, because you gave us an opportunity to talk about it and highlight. to talk to those people who had no voice. and brought it out of the closet, made a political. that's how we make changes. and i make no apologies, around making something political, that's how you change something in the democracy. so when people want to have town halls on, it discuss it, that's where you will see the
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societal shift. and that's the whole issue of violence against women. by the, take a walk around the block, protective orders, this is societies are spawns to acknowledging the helplessness that sometimes individuals find themselves in. when they have kids, don't have kids. but just elevating that conversation every time, it has to be done, it's an important moment, i think. at least when i was there. >> we've asked you a lot of questions about the past. now we will ask you to look into the crystal ball and prognosticate. 108 women in congress. 88 in the house, 20 in a senate. looking out, 50 years from now, 50 years from jeannette rankin's centennial, 2067. how many women do you think will be in congress? and how will we get to that
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point? >> first of all ... well, women need to run. that's such a big portion of the problem. and i know it looks dirty and mean and it is. but you know what's? that's life, that gives you an opportunity. it isn't going to be easy. but women need to be -- so, i think we've gotten to a place where, i was allowed because my lineage, as a woman, to run. there was a little bit of an apology there. we can do this. to the point where i remember my husband running the national republican committee, i start to look for females. it wasn't just like, okay, these women have the right background. if you had two candidates, well,
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the female is the one that the party is going to go after. so we are seeing change in this short period of time. 50 years from now, i hope women are in the majority, as they are in this country and electorate. if we want the united states congress to reflect the united states, we have to step on it. >> if one of your daughters told me that they wanted to run for congress, what would you say in what advice would you give? >> idly enough, we had this conversation. this is come up from time to time. i would certainly encourage it. it's not the easiest road. it's not easy to put yourself out there. but boy, the benefits of -- i mean, you are allowing me to be a part of history. there's not many jobs where you can do that. it's ... to get the trust of your neighbors.
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to be able to make decisions with presidents of the united states and united states senators and leaders from around the world. generals. when i look back on my life, the first persian gulf war. when i walked into the studio, the first time taking my show on sutton island, we brought in the human shields who saddam hussein use to keep himself safe during the first call for. to be able to look back and unite with some of my sisters on issues like tail hook and aberdeen. and domestic violence and breast cancer. maybe doing a little part to bring peace to the former yugoslavia. where else can you sit back and say, well, the work has been
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really good? but it's a heavy experience. if you want to do it, you have to be tough. it's not an easy path but the payoff is unbelievable. i would support them 100%. now pushing them in that direction by any means! [laughs] >> looking back on your house career, was there anything unexpected to it or that surprised you about it? ... no. i think if there was anything that surprised me, i know this will sound ridiculous, it's how easy it was. if you wanted to get something done, it wouldn't always happen. but you were gifted with incredible staff, brilliant people were surrounding you. the thing that survives when most people come here, that
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much of the places run by people under 30. it's smart people, passionate people. and if you have a cause that you will pursue, you are going to be dog, you can usually get it done. so i think that was sort of a surprise for me. it was not a surprise for me, how bipartisan it was, because my dad was bipartisan i remember, my dad, i was walking into the fox to the, oh here's a guy you are going to work with. and it was chuck schumer! and he was right. because we were both new yorkers. senator schumer now. and as a delegation, sometimes, we would totally unite, certainly if you are from new york. [laughs] republicans or democrats, certainly, that's true of a significant portion of
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congress. >> we've asked you a lot of questions, thank you. >> i hope it was okay. >> what do you think your lasting legacy will be as a member of congress? when people see your name, what will they say? >> oh my. i don't think they will remember. i would say it's such a short period of time, it's just a blip you know, if there were people who could remember -- if i was going to write my own letters, i would do that. it would be that if you could work across the aisle, you can work with people from different degrees, that are respected. and, i always felt that i was proud to be part of this institution. >> that's a great way to end it. >> thank you so much for sharing. >> thank you.
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