tv Oral Histories Women in Congress - Susan Molinari Interview CSPAN November 9, 2021 12:51pm-2:38pm EST
served in congress for the u.s. house of representatives office of the historian conducted this interview. >> my name is kathleen johnson today and with the help mention the day is generate we are in the house recording studio and we are very pleased to be speak with former representative susan from new york. thank you very much for coming today but. >> very excited to be part of this project. >> this project we are working on is to recognize and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the election of jeannette rankin to congress. the first woman. we have a bunch of questions
and went to ask you today. first developed when you are young did did you have any female role models? >> no. i never thought about that question before. i remember looking at the autographed book when you are really little yes your grandmother, your mother and father to sign and the kids in your class it's a what he want to be when i grow up? and i remember looking back i was and maybe second grade i was a flight attendant we were called stewardesses at the time or ballerina that was in my notion of what women could be. and so it never occurred to me, certainly never to enter into politics to be front and center. i cannot think of too many role models when i was really young that were female that change along the way it gratefully. >> how did you first become interested in politics? >> i come from a long line of
politicians. my grandfather was the new york state assembly. my father was that new york state assembly than a member of congress. i am an only child and very close to both of my parents. we have sunday breakfast and have elections for who is going to be the president of the day. as if i am elected president. [laughter] i will take us all to the zoo and what ever you promised he would get to fulfill and learned a lot about making deals so you could get that extra vote. we would have elected officials come to our house all the time. that was an area in which i was very comfortable. my dad did not run until i was in high school where there is a discussion of politics he was always involved in campaigns. my dad did run for politics i continued to follow in his heels and found the debates, the protest so much as campaigning.
my friends and i would go door to door with him and just became a natural vote not at the time going back to the question whether female role model what i've thought i would run for office but i really enjoy being part of the world. >> you have memories about your dad's congressional office or attending any special events on capitol hill? >> absolutely. i do remember my dad allowing me too come to the inauguration of ronald reagan and going to some of the great events that surround any inaugural. i have very fond memories of that. i've never come to the house floor to watch my dad being sworn in. that's kind of an amazing thing. now they have him come to the house floor to watch may be sworn in. i have very, very fond memories both of going to albany and when he is in the new york assembly in albany of the state university of new
york in albany and would meet him for lunch. find every opportunity i could to go down there and watch a debate. often time he lived with two other members of the assembly hood but my roommate and myself to dinner coffee or eating college food that is a big treat. but we are cleaning up we listen to them calculate the debate they're going to have the next day, sitting by the fire engaging in what the topic was going to be the next day and the roles they were going to play it just left an impression. >> you have a favorite memory of your dad serving? >> there are so many great memories. my father is exotic he does not see walls, he just knocks them down. he gets them done. he took on newt gingrich. he threw a party when he got into trouble for getting the
italian salute on the house floor. my dad was very bipartisan. he believed very much in the institution as opposed the political party. a lot of the memories i have of my dad were teaching me the lesson up he worked very closely within congressman chuck schumer. he saved the hospital that was about to close. a public health hospital on staten island as a freshman member because he did not know any better that he was not supposed to be able to have that kind of clout and figure things out. most of the memories i have of my dad. he saw walls but he did not walk around them he took him down and he still does. : : :
in the carryall they said that is going to nominate guy to the state assembly. i said i got her so speaking publicly, i thought i would be afraid of it. and so because i was always active and from a very young age to running for office and then it open up the near city council and working in washington dc, back in new york city there is no way that i was supposed to be in this frame. but it would give me some good exposure. and i wanted to know the right people and in the public relations. [inaudible]. >> what you go out and shaking hands and what their concerns are pretty that maybe i can actually do this. and fix their problems and so
convinced so i ran for the new york city council pretty and when decided to run for president for and to increase of participation and my mother was diagnosed not that long before and is going on my dad it to be away from her. but as of right thing so he ran and left open the congressional seat. a dream come true for me. after watching him and following him and especially the debates. i had an opportunity to serve in the house of representatives about the highest honor i think of predict this is reaction and although when i did to the new york city council, he took out a card they have the quote, in
this arena and he said he would take this and send you take this and you will need it. the toxic but beautiful business in my father, he is a true public servant and so be - and for his daughter anybody, and like to run for office he would never discourage. he said that it would be a rough-and-tumble though. and if you have an opportunity to do it, to do so. >> and what role did he play. >> was interesting. he was more an advisor if you well pretty but of course with his campaign, i'm so delighted to be campaign manager and fundraiser freighted my dad was saying oh you have two hours in the middle of the day.
he was just onboard, onward, onward and so again, he was more of a cheerleader. and i know it was rougher him to do this as well. and standing up for some time when emotionally of how you did or so he could really be in a place of calm. >> i think every member of the house has faint memories of that first election and for you, for there any moments or turning point moments of that 1990 special election. >> it was just a jumble. interestingly, i followed the commencement of the special
election, the intensities of your political party. and everybody in the office to come in and do fundraiser pretty so i just became this wonderful the heavily watched the media focused run the elections of the intentions is something that i remember. it's funny. showing how old i am. [laughter] as kids are now, mom, just running because it was only think that i could do without everyone to do better than me. [inaudible]. and what to say. so is more of the commotion. >> you mentioned that you are the new york city council and had the prior political and how they compare. >> is interesting because i was in the council and in the city government and so minority leader and i was 27 years old.
and so i followed all of the committees. and somebody had to negotiate in new york city rated i had a driver and is one of four people that an office and i was really fortunate to serve at the time. they taught me a lot about politics and also i learned along the way. even though i was the only republican is fair and give me access to the staff in the teams and so i had to grow up fast. as you would a debate on the floor and they would say or i have to stand up and defend. in a 70 also speaking that i would have stand up and defend again predict so it's no one else there to do it the issues that you handle in new york city governments, it was a thrill, i
guess the national and the international in the united states, i'm privileged to serve my first year under george bush, 41 and sort of said hat in the master that had such respect for congress and we were in and out all of the time negotiating things like civil rights and bills and the american committees pretty you really had pieces of legislation and we were all very active in this political party. so you are on a bigger stage. >> imagine the fact that you are on the new york city council in the early days when campaign, was an issue pretty. >> i was on my 32nd birthday that was pretty cool. age was very much an issue
pretty late when you're campaigning and so i look shorter and i dress better than i was buried and so i think age was. the gentleman who ran against me, this was the congress would constantly say that he had children in the house and a mortgage so he brought his house his wife and 31 -year-old and solely public wide so 19 being in the new york city council, is a bit of a standout, the only republican and there was a significant amount in new york city council very smart so it was ironic as it was it was not an issue in politics. >> was gender important in your
household. [inaudible]. >> lessons for me, but it was for my opponents. but it was an issue where the whisper campaign, younger female. and i would tell people what to do. it would be a whispered on the other hand, pretty cool people and people that i represented in staten island, to the older people, i would be like a granddaughter their daughter so i did not feel it from the voters at all. >> can you describe the district for us geographically and demographically. >> the district staten island and my logo was the bridge because it connected the two
sides of the district pretty did note the time, it was dominantly italian there. a larger growing jewish population. second and third generations read in brooklyn maybe third-generation it at a time that moved to staten island it was really life and i was really loving but terrifically for place where everybody looks out for everybody. just 1 degree of separation in the district as it was pretty so is really great and gracious place to live and serve and that's where i had first baby pretty. >> you asked about your campaign and so what about or do you have advice pretty. >> the invite advice in court again starting off i was in city council and we would talk about a very and i would say look, i can get such and such there.
and i was in the midst of senior citizens club in the basement of the church. and my promised that he was going to take us to stanton island and then became sort of my job for the commission. and so we yes, my father would give me advice and my father has an amazing 87 years old, he is still one of the smartest political people that i know. it coming say here for sent great for you to jump on or i just heard that office in this and mostly, is collaborative relationship that we had and we would bring the resources of the federal the city together. >> there any challenges or obstacles and with your father he talked about some of the advantages. >> sure. for me, it is self-imposed.
i'm always afraid of tarnishing the legacy. he's a person with an amazing background and the ability to command read he's passionate on all of the things and what if i messed that up. [laughter] that was one of my concerns and anything in terms of the pressure them something that if it all myself. i think the fact that i was female, who source styles are very different and i think made it a little easier for us. and then of course got to be the benefit of being the majority. so that is a whole different opportunity. do you things done. >> what was it like to be there and be sworn in and succeed your father directly. only the second woman in
congress to ever directly succeed your father. >> it was amazing. i live for those moments and. [laughter] and standing there and given a speech and i'm sure we all have those moments. my dad didn't say it was great and i remember a masters because they offered and now onto the next party was always, i remember the little thanks. my friends got a dollar for getting something done. and i would say i want you to get a name because you got an a. there's no connection. so i always listened and then there was that moment that i could see that in his eyes. and in our relationship pretty. >> another question that we wanted to ask is in a couple of handouts that we showed you
before, the sigma there is your dad and we didn't know if you had any sort of, another particulars but campaigning in general. >> we were big into the fans and we did a lot of that stuff. and even has these rulings conversations about a new generation of judicial rhetoric and so you could put a lot of thought and just remember one of my dad's first campaigns, one of the slogans that i came up with was you gotta try and so trinity that was on his button. we would have this conversation back and forth and how it would work pretty i was given a great
opportunity. and did run for his season he was president and a lot of my documents three was present in and was rudy giuliani was not bit really popular at that time. in iran in which command and so i had at the time. >> so the top campaign button, that was yours. who came up with that generation new generation of leadership pretty. >> all of us did, we wanted to do this generational thing but for myself and my dad and you know, asked not to compare myself at all about the benefits of having someone so much younger you know getting into politics. that is really kind of what we were trying for. >> when he first came in the house, back, their 28 women.
did you find that women levitate to each other pretty. >> yes and i still do. leader pelosi i consider her a dear friend and much to be said about the conversation that takes place about women being on party lines and thanks and i had always violence against the women act and but when the time it looks like things will move, we would have omens caucus where we would had the congresswoman there and keep us altogether on this issue. >> and a lot of times we just we have these issues and that we would have an understanding. >> was that mr. like, what was
it welcoming atmosphere for women. >> yes and honestly, it could be as i look at it. everybody that we worked with and rely upon others so whether they liked women are not, their equal, the were not to pretend and discrimination all the things happening to the women all over. overhear into the united states congress. and the rest of the country as well. there were other people who might have certain circumstances had issues with the men in power. versus a woman in power. so quite frankly never really felt discriminated against, until he left. >> were there any things that
was maybe a little bit more difficult for you orbit somehow or is so why was that the case. >> no, i think it was a slower change and again i think both political parties and the people, they really recognized bit more women was a good thing for this country rated so, i felt welcomed and i was able to in the republican party because i was female and i remember being called out to be part of a press conference on crime-fighting in iran are vice chair of republican conference even though i was a moderate new york city. i think that one of the things was it was a recognition that women in leadership in a moderate and i did enter this institution at a time when it was not present a recognized in the political thing to happen i think that is being hampered by
us. >> did you have any members female or male, who it's hard arm interview during the first term in congress. >> you know, everybody kind of dead in ireland can't pick one or the other and again, later on deborah price, and we all became and we would spend more time together and sometimes it would consist of others and including my now husband. and we would do things together and spend more time together but i never felt well jerry came in and campaigned against be after encouragement from is are never felt that he would be there and
again what i count on them for them politically. you get where the line is drawn. but those relationships i will always cherish. then i got married and had a baby and and from women who been there, i got advice it was very comforting. i think we stood each other up and i remember being at lowe's getting an award. and farmers were there and we heard about. [inaudible]. and we met in the lobby and all of the same time like you did you hear the story and tapping on the armed services committee and organized shortly thereafter.
i had susan at the time. i was able to organize where the general said command and ask questions about what was going on. and i think it was that the sort of allowed to stand each other up and going to challenge the way things would be done it is so, yes, i learned from them. she was great and tough and smart but i think we all kind of stood each other up. and this is not just for us. no like you have a baby girl. [laughter] i so determined to change this world for her. >> to think it was for you and have a separate space in the capitol pretty. >> other was really important. it was nice to just have those areas when you had a headache or
you wanted to do something or maybe when you wanted to speak out and have a public discussion about a decision you had made. anyone with that sacred space. i think it is helpful pretty. >> were there other places that you would go to be people some of them informally pretty. >> every once in a while but have groups, probably very much bipartisan but we would go out to dinner and hangout. and senator hutchison, tripathi when i got engaged. you just do a little bit more stuff together. >> you mentioned the women's caucus earlier and were just wondering if you could elaborate a bit on your memories the caucus. and we did it meet. where did it meet. how would you describe your early leadership.
>> in the statutory call and a small group that would meet. and we would talk about some of the issues, and examples i remember there was group surrounding the efficacy of my standpoint and one of our female members was talking about reconstruction. the fda commissioner at the time was a bit cavalier and not understanding the discussion that was taken place and just being purely cosmetic. and kind of rallied around this and how do we expand this conversation. and when there were disagreements. we would need to say okay, here's how we are going to handle this. were going to move this through and he said to do these things pretty guys have to stand out in not fall right away.
[laughter] we would have those conversations that would allow it to actually acknowledge the difficulties in the time of our political parties and where we thought the conversations did not come up read. >> a major issue that has come up through was through the reproductive rights and headed you and another member of the caucus handle that issue. >> it would come up will it did not come up as much as it does now, it would come up mexico city and some of these other issues military and armed services and again i think it was more making certain that the conversation from those political parties recognize that we were speaking to the market
people. and all the disagreements and hoping to keep a level to the discussions. and i think that was probably the biggest role. >> can you ever think you are any others would expect another caucus because you talk about the importance of the bipartisanship party. >> no, it is nice, where different ages we came from different political parties and even within the central parties geographic spectrums pretty so we would certainly disagree on some things but even on an issue like abortion or, i think we recognize that women needed to be a part of that conversation. as opposed to seeing led to a
debate and had to deal with these impacts something that women trying to speak to one another on these issues, that we did with celebrating the packet we were part of this discussion. >> how important do you think it is for debates for you personally especially on the republican party. >> once again aside from that for life now but you in some ways very much hampered are very conservative wing of the party and not that people would make money off of the fundraising. when i ran for vice chair, went all out to campaign against me and they were out the characters sure that they could do but at the same time i think and also
made me a fighter and needed to be tougher. is sort of the secret lisa was back then. and so, sometimes we underestimated that this was a good thing. and i remember a lot of my debates, some didn't take me seriously. and i would say the same thing happens when you're negotiating. the legislation. >> just again, the women's caucus in broader terms. what role in the institution and was it significant over time. >> you know, it was very significant for me.
to be able to begin sometimes it wasn't just what happened in the meetings for the relationship developed as a result of those meetings. this is not just for women. with nora brought an know about your husband getting sick or your child having an addiction problem or somebody having cancer or great things happening, your daughter or whatever. it allows you to communicate and much more honest and productive level. even high somebody who is viewed as a full person with all the falls and the strengths and heartbreaks and celebrations so i think more than anything, the 435 in bringing 31 of us together gave us an opportunity to get to know each other a little bit hard of a different level which made a lot easier to then go ask for advice grass for
floor time and it just needed a little more time. >> somewhat of a political spirit pretty. >> exactly and although, discussing on the way different level than you would when you're not in the house floor. >> you had an issue that the caucus really did rally around and did you feel that that there was a group to be reckoned with a force to be reckoned with freighted. >> no doubt. like all but six women. oh here comes trouble rated so there is no doubt about the fact that it was on something that of significance that is going to have an impact. we were going to make it happen.
>> why did shift gears a little bit. were curious about how you obtained the initial small business transportation and also advise from the committee pretty. >> particular back in those days, we did really have a lot to say and going to go well it was not happening. largely thanks to my husband. go back in the day. and my dad was a transportation dynamo transportation gals them something that i really wanted to ask for and then i did get on the education labor and those interesting a great time without and eventually transitioned off of education labor and i was asked to go on budget and then
he took over chairman of the budget committee. it would balance the budget. there's some really great history that was happening. >> i digressed into a female story. and so, as on education and labor and family and medical leave and i was one of the proponents of it the republican party and i remember john maynard at the time was on it and on how government should not be telling the businesses what to do. and he was up to the boards and chairman of the boards and they should be able to make their own policies and so he just went on. and i responded i said i totally disagree that in a perfect world, in the business should be able to make their own decisions but you can entered consistently referred, i think until then. [inaudible]. good for maynard.
he took it as in the spirit of intentions. it was one of those moments i'm not sure any of the man on the stand would. >> how important do you think it is to have a woman's perspective on a lot of these things printed. >> is important to have a woman's perspective and they have an american perspective and we all dream of portions of our lives to that table. and to not have that experience the specialness and uniqueness. we lose something as a country. the better it will be. you see things differently and
reflect on this differently. you react differently and so these are changing and any change more rapidly but i do think that decisions become more fair. when people representing people at the table pretty good lord we are talking about 51 percent of the population. it's kind of crazy that where the majority. and we are still considered representative of a minority pretty. >> is in the 1990s, is really not that long ago pretty and is an often you are one of the few women so was the bottom of the reaction you received pretty. >> it was nice and again, overwhelming majority of the people were peaceful and are here for the right reasons. there was the sort of collegial
level of respect. and again i think there was some who didn't get a kick out of it. i would get a little tough when necessary. so i never felt whatsoever for being female on a committee and the example. just one example where he was a time in which considered a challenge and one that was you know accepted and taken well by my male colleagues. >> we also read in a book the you and hope to get on the appropriations committee at one point. >> back in the day they used to be a really good assignment. >> can you tell us a little bit about trying to get on and how that worked pretty. >> well again, appropriations in the committee where you get
elected in your district and bring on projects and infrastructure and combined my interest in the transportation and representing new york city, something i really wanted to do but i was up against another new yorker for the position. and more conservative than i and as i found out it was debate about the position it was i was moderate. i could not get on appropriations. >> the republicans took control in 1995, the chair of the subcommittee and transportation committee. was alex rios likened what about the leadership style pretty. >> i love didn't know was given the opportunity to chair the railroad read and again one of the things that i loved as a transportation committee is so much of what you do in congress, is really important
conversations about human behavior. about reproductive rights, civil rights. and hud, welfare and you having this conversation that is not as concrete as infrastructure, the trains will run better. and i think if you love that aspect of dealing with transportation you know with more american in terms of these creations that are railroad. i love to sing that in working with the ceos and the tankers and i really enjoyed that is a challenge. the only thing that i did which i thought for some was the way i would do my hair because you noise have like reforms and
people would travel from all over the united states to testify as well as like the federal rail administration read noise was becoming promises they had would the room would be packed in cameras will be in and then have other room would leave and then by the time these people who have given up there time to travel, with their jobs, did not get paid for by the we came to testify, the phone with greg and many people would leave to go vote and then before you know to be being one of the person. and the most african the testifying and the federal administrator, had to hear that. and i was constantly frustrating my friends the federal government that i was not in. like this is what you're doing your job and you're sitting there. it you're not so that was there.
>> was one particular issue from the subcommittee that you remember at that time pretty. >> will certainly, amtrak reform. at the time when i gutted, i was dealing with a group of republicans who wanted to defund amtrak and amtrak was and still is a company that was his money and so i was trying to negotiate allowed us to reform amtrak because right now, so much statutory so there is an in so actually testifying before the rules committee and having a bill to gain power to the people and amtrak to make their decisions as a business. now remember the old gentleman said, but if i vote for this,
look have a route to my district. i said with all due respect, what i'm trying to do is take us out of it allows people happy is the bottom line and make it more efficient make those decisions. so he sent so that could go away. and i said yes and he said shoot, i'm not going to vote for it pretty. >> so is an important discussion to take place in terms of some of the things that are national rails make it impossible to not lose a vote with money so that is something that i was really looking at in aviation, a big issue for my dad read and coming from the district that they came from, or the ocean and kennedy with what he became as i became interested in of course the issues that came down the pike. >> that would be a good point.
>> were back wanted to shift gears onto leadership. vicarious what was behind your decision to run for leadership after the 1994 election pretty. >> the part of it was my own principles. but also i thought there needed to be a woman in leadership rated adeptly, so interesting. also running, this general consensus that only one of us could with rated there would only be room for one female. the rest of the leadership is male and both of us one but i remember that once i one, the guy that was running hot shall win. you only have room for one here.
and fun he even thought about that is so long. but if he is good for the party and scraped have additional voices and the discussions not only tolerated, it was welcome. as important to the people out there of different views. then again, people can disagree with you but understanding of the people who nominated you are conservative and again to show the importance of having a majority the successful working majority so - >> he sent part of it was your ambition but also re- recruited by anybody and why did you select the vice chair position. >> today with people who came up to me and said, i think that you
should do this we need a woman you need somebody to counsel. and all those things so thought about it and decided i would do the job pretty very much my life of an much rather make mistakes. and of course as long as they don't hurt anybody but themselves. and somebody said you should run for mayor city council and i thought i was scared of it so i guess i had to do it. so i guess i have to do this. >> not much is written about the leadership, really kind of it inside thanks so can you discuss a little bit your campaign. >> one in contacting people, you don't get anywhere in life without asking people to help you. certainly is elected official. in my campaign, like hundreds of people ringing doorbells and
writing checks and talking to their friends. and then i get the job. and so i think those are the kind of things that you do. and you know people as many people as possible i do remember a great guy from florida. i people who would come up to me and who knows and i would love to vote for you but of course, i'm friends with jim and back in the day, there was well i don't necessarily need this but have another one of those occasions where you interacted as a member of congress the people who just so the relationships in another area how they do exercise together. in the gymnasium. when the day i had to overcome that relationship standpoint.
it is just another different think. >> does anybody run a campaign rated. >> my husband was very helpful. i surround myself with strong political people rated their be my father and my husband. and you know in general, they were pretty helpful. >> in the time, you are in gop leadership supported them into you personally and also from a larger perspective what is it mean to the party. >> personally, what a crazy crazy incredible honor to be a part of history to be able to guide of will to be able to while the age that goes on but it's really cool when i think
somebody comes up to me and says when i was growing up, i got into politics. but there is that, you need to have that person who looks a little bit like you in order to inspire you. to know that you can. ironically, technology right now. lord knows that was part of it. try to make sure that young girls going out could see somebody that they could say, that could be me. it's not that different from me they're not that different for me. >> and for the party. >> i think that's important for any movement that was to attract people. you need to make sure that you're surrounded by people who you can connect with. and so i think is probably one of the reasons anyone read and again, and try to get as many
different faces as possible out there representing the parties. and agreeing with parties. >> earlier we asked you about the importance of these committees and what about in leadership. >> i'm directing an agenda. whatever happens in leadership he said run leadership table and so again, i can remember there was an appropriations bill that was coming up that was to die single people and so i had to come to a solution and everybody said really. are we a party this going to say a single cannot which of course all of these people around the table have been raised by single mother so they immediately talk about it. so i was i had to bring it to
their attention and then they reacted appropriately and that's just one example where you consider the table have a conversation. the breast-cancer stamp bill which i thank you so selective with actually a creation of the constituents they came to me and the republican leadership, he was the sponsor as a cosponsor. and he came to me and he said, we really should be supporting this because it's everything that we aggrandizement not mandated, is voluntary. and who would go to dod, and the military personnel and this is like and we reach an audience. so we said okay fine. but the post office and i said well the post office and you go
back and you tell them that this bill will i cannot do that pretty like that is awful. so getting in house the worn i would say i'm horrified even have to have this conversation and he said will bring it up on suspension between you don't have to go through hearings and moving along. to make changes that the post office recommends. and i remember the moment, i said hey what's going on and he said, member women can be members of the minorities. and of course he said do whatever you need to do to get this moving. >> what was your welcome they get the polling what are your memories at the time. >> great, just general understanding that pages gotten into the majority and we didn't
take it for granted we knew it was something we had to work at a day in and day out. we could control the agenda and would there be an opportunity to sort of have a gentler on her party that would have some pretty important pieces of legislation rated and i think initially in the spaces of this kind of excitement about getting there but not just getting there, working to make sure that like running like message a good idea but all the women's magazines and we had the committee chairs and we did different tables and we took them for a tour. we wanted to start to establish a dialogue. and it's not just the people who
read the wall street journal. people who read redbook and the monte who gets their information and so, political information. so we wanted to highlight and be able to call to say hey listen, we'd really like you to feature this. so we all did. >> over your primary responsibilities as vice chair. >> living primarily, certainly when maynard was there at the time, the greatest thing about humus i think just going maynard which says much about him, chairman of the time and he said sometimes you have to run the meetings of people would come to you and me probably more than the others because they wanted to bring positions, think monitor talk through something
partied and you would get together and you are air your ideas new concepts. and so a lot of times it's kind of the first line of the appropriate place and so i would do a lot of that. >> how closely did you work with him. >> a lot and my staff very close. >> were you involved in drafting in the implementation of the contracts. >> no. i was there is one of the people from the point in the contract was one of those things that was unify the republican party as opposed to divided and so the group of others came together to travis concept been somebody there was a down from the top to a lot of members make sure the way they were talking about it
would wouldn't have any issues or also it was very good in making an effort so i was there somebody who put my 2 cents and. and then offense heavily on it, that we took the majority and so we are pretty much going to two district in like three weeks, he even know where you were. because you just couldn't remember. and so on the top of the contract a lot and it was really kind of a game changer. the whole point of the contract was to bring people if people were asking you to change history. to give the republicans a chance that had been done in a generation. not just going to say process.
see agree with the contractor not it's a good way to govern rated and then they voted rated. >> he described the atmosphere in the house during that transition. >> literally, crazy, we had to do this in the hundred days. i was always wearing heels all of the time. it was funny. hearings of the markups and this was just an insane and i remember with chris farley, is like this is it. and again with all of the excitement with the majority and the optimism and enthusiasm and was happening in just think about pieces of legislation and happening in 100 days. >> what role did the women
republicans play during that time in your leadership but. >> on the committees and certainly there was never ever issue of the press conference can be held that women needed to be there. and if they felt particularly strong about it read i mean, i don't mean to make the sound that it was easy but you did not want that, they wanted you out there and speaking and doing talk shows and getting out there on cnn and doing whatever you needed to do to be a messenger for the republican party. silliman did a lot of that. >> one example of that was keynote address of the republicans in san diego in 1996, ported that event it mean to and how did you prepare for it.
>> well certainly, the greatest thing that it meant to me, not to speak on behalf of somebody else, but again whatever your politics are and if you're part of the campaign, such a terrific honor to speak on his behalf and to be part of that rated but the story there is hard some of the first egg into san diego, my friends there having parties every night and i'm in this little trailer with my notebook and so that's all i did. and now the way they work at is this little box underneath and you vote early today to get measured so the teleprompter can reach you. and
podium stays the same, and there's a little box underneath. and you go early in. day and get measured for how high the box has to be so the teleprompters can reach you, right. so the deal was, governor whitman at the time was going to introduce a clip of like my district, staten island, the ferry, the whole bit. kasich went on before me. during that time of the clip, they adjust the thing. john gets all excited, governor kasich. he goes much longer than he's supposed to. he runs right into my time. i'm up against the hard out. in california, 8:00, 11:00 done, done, done. if she's in the middle of the speech, she's done. we're cutting off at 11:00. so i get there. governor whitman can only say, "and now susan molinari for the keynote speech." i get out there and the prompters, i can't see the prompters. so i do have my written, but there's that moment that you're like, really? you lose it. for a second, i think should i say, we're having technical difficulties, we're going to take a five-second break. i can't do that.
while i'm thinking of these things, i've started the speech. it was what it was. to this day, every time my dad sees john kasich on tv, he'll say, i'll never forgive him. again, what an amazing honor to be a keynote speaker and a keynote speaker for bob dole. i loved working with senator dole on so many issues. and there's a guy -- i got to know him because we worked closely together on several pieces of legislation. me as a freshman legislator -- he does not see age, he does not see gender, he sees american. he's a super-terrific guy. to have gotten to know him so well on legislation and to have gotten that shot of confidence from him was really pretty neat. >> his running mate, too, jack kemp -- >> afterwards. exactly. it was a great, exciting time. >> were you surprised that you
were asking to give the address? >> totally. before the days of, i guess, cell phones, we were at -- on a baptizing the baby -- show the children, both girls, were born in staten island and baptized in bill's district, so sometimes we just couldn't collaborate. we loved the district so much that we wanted that piece of history to be with them. so i think we were baptizing susan or like -- and bill was on his announcement tour, right. finally, the old guy's traveling with the wife and the kid. his district was so huge, he would have like 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 on. and i can't remember my press secretary, somehow, i guess we had beepers back in the day. people watching this are like, oh, my lord. how old is this woman? and they said, call senator dole
is going to announce you're going to be keynote speaker. i hadn't even been asked to speak at the convention, and i thought i was close enough at least i would get the 4:00 in the afternoon. that was just great, and so he had, they said do you know who's going to nominate you? he said the only thing i can tell you is susan molinari is going to be the keynote speaker. we do not have cell phones. they said, hey, larry king, can we get susan molinari to call. there's a cell phone outside the kitchen where they're yelling and screaming, and i'm on the phone. thank you, senator. so yes, it was a huge surprise. my husband laughs because we had three more announcements the next day for him and all the trucks showed up for me. okay, we were here for me to announce i am running for reelection, but here's my wife, susan molinari. >> you talked about your marriage and this, of course,
took place while you were a member of congress. that's rare for two sitting members marry. >> a few more females in there, and it might happen. >> exactly. what's the reaction of your colleagues? >> they were so cute. so bill proposed to me on the house floor. it was not publicly, and it was during those times when congress was in session, but nobody was there. and mike mcnolte, who was a member of congress from new york, also a democrat, was in the chair. they were debating some bill when my husband and i -- we would meet sometimes and chat in the back. and we ran into each other. we were sitting, and he said, i just want to let you know that i spoke to your mom and your dad today. and they had a quorum called.
and before they did, the speaker had a beautiful speech about i want to share with everybody before we get in the debate, that there are really great things that happen on the floor of the house of representatives. and then the next day, there were all these special orders where eliot engel said may you have a bunch of children and may they all be democrats. it was so house warming to have the family of the u.s. house of representatives congratulate us and be really happy for us. >> what about your constituents? what was their reaction? >> they were thrilled. they were thrilled. we looked at this one picture we're coming down the steps of the capitol the next day and all these tourists taking pictures of us from other countries, and i look wondering who are these people. they took pictures figuring they were important and then they look back like i don't know who they are.
the constituents were so excited. first of all, by that point, i would go to a lot of his events, he would come to a lot of my events. so my little italians loved -- you know. very excited, really excited. it was lovely. >> were there any challenges or obstacles to being married to a another member of congress? >> no, because you understand. i remember one time i guess we were married but bill had come to visit and we were going to go out to movie or all of a sudden i got a call there was going to be an emergency meeting or something, and you could look at somebody and say i'm so sorry this just came up and this is really important in my district and we'll go out tomorrow night, i have to do this. of course. he'd totally understand that.
and then you would lif with my dad who every once in a while would be like, i think my daughter is running for governor. my father would announce it to the press before i'd have a discussion. so to have somebody who understood it and respected it made it so much easier. once in a while the travel would be an issue, right? particularly once we had susan that i would take her but we'd go back to our districts. so that was the only challenging part. in terms of having people who understand what you're going through and needing help and needing patience, no, no, no. it's a gift. >> and just a couple years later you mentioned you had your daughter. you're one of a small group of women in office in the house to give birth. what was the response from your colleagues when they heard you were pregnant. >> oh, my gosh, super. right before me there was enid who was pregnant right before
me. so it wasn't quite the shock because she'd just gone through it, but colleagues were so sweet, and you know, the gifts would pour in. and people, how are you feeling? are you tired yet? you look great and that's when you become really close friends with your women colleagues. >> did you receive any advice for them or like you mentioned, from enid green? >> no, not really. you know, i think as women we get we're oftentimes barraged by advice we don't want and don't need but sometimes we're more reticent to pour it onto another. you got it together, you don't need me. so no, just a lot of love. >> what about blanch lambert lincoln? she also was pregnant at the
same time. >> we got together. we were like okay let's go through the house. do you have a smoke alarm. everybody would use this as an opportunity for tv. i remember there was a mother's day right after susan was born it was mary landrieu and her adorable son sitting on the lap, at that age where he was totally going to upstage mom for mother's day, and blanche lincoln was pregnant at the same time i was, so it was great. look, there's probably no easier job than being in congress when you're having a kid because nobody's going to tell you not to bring your child around. so our babies were constantly with us. i went back to work right away. but i had a crib in my room. and if i had a meeting and she was sleeping, i would trade offices with my husband. so my life was really very easy.
very lucky. >> what was the media attention like? >> so the media attention because not only was two members married but i gave birth a day before mother's day. so now you have the entire media world looking for that mother's day hook. john, get me something on mother's day. so literally we had to have a press conference. susan was 14 hours labor and then a cesarean. and after they took her i started shaking. i was over -- not overmedicated, but i woke up the next day and it was not pretty. and there's mayor giuliani, with my father, feeding my kid while i'm throwing up in a bedpan, and the world media outside ready to do an interview. but all good. people should have such problems
in life. >> seems like a happy mother's day. >> it was a wonderful mother's day. the interesting part i had susan while i was in congress so the announcement is -- we have reels and reels of television coverage, newspaper coverage from around the world. then i had katie when i was out of office. born, seven pounds. >> you mentioned just a few minutes ago you came back to work after only a couple of weeks. did you ever talk about maternity leave with the leadership or was it ever a topic discussed? >> no. first of all i didn't work for them, i worked for the people of staten island, right. so i don't think it was an issue for me in terms of -- these people were so wonderful if i missed votes because i was home with my child it would not have been an issue at all. these are glorious family people
who would just never comment. again, i was given 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 just didn't have to make that decision. as i said, we took the closets where you hang your coats and i got a piece of wood and i made a dressing table. i had a crib there. i mean, there was no -- if susan couldn't sleep i'd take her on the train and come back and forth between the house, a little ride but she loved it and she'd go right back to sleep. it did give me an opportunity. and one of the reasons right after i'd given birth we had the moving vietnam wall, which is a miniature replica of the vietnam wall. and it was able to be taken to places around the country and it was coming to fort hamilton in my district. and i really felt strongly about having to be there. so that sort of got me started
getting back into work. there were days susan was sick or whatever and younger there are things you just have to do as a mother that was never an issue. but, again, i went back early just because i could. >> besides your husband, are there members that would have helped you out in a pinch if you had to vote or meet with someone? >> i do recall being on the house floor and it was one of those nights we were voting until -- back in the day you'd vote to sometimes like 11:00 at night, and i'd forgotten my card, so i had to go to the well. susan was sleeping. now, i know this is hard for some people to picture. but tom delay, i was like, can you hold her for a minute? and he was great. but those are the things, right? there's nothing easier than making friends when you're holding a sweet little baby, particularly when they're sleeping.
>> going to shift gears a little bit and ask some general questions about women in congress. when jeannette rankin first served in congress, there was press attention paid to her dress and demeanor because she was a woman. and we also read that you made headlines because you wore pants during your first floor speech. what was the reaction to that and did it surprise you? >> crazy. oh, totally surprised me. i've always been one of those people who feels more comfortable in pants. so i was given one minute on the staten island home port and the need to stay vigilant with defense. and i had nice black like silk satin pants. i wasn't wearing jeans. i remember this day i had like a very expensive black jacket on. it was like one of my best outfits. and as soon as i got back to the
office my chief of staff said "the new york times," "the daily news" the cathy and regis show called. i literally thought to myself i guess we're making news because young, female pro defense new york city, because the home port was somewhat controversial, and we started making the phone calls back, and it turned out i was the first female to wear pants on the floor of the house representatives. not against dress rules. as best i could determine there wasn't as set a dress code for females when they were doing those things because they didn't really think there'd be females on the house floor. but yes, i was -- i made "glamour" magazine. i went on the kathy lee and regis show. and it was all because i had
pants on the floor for the first time. >> this is all external. your colleagues didn't comment. >> no, not at all. i would be really surprised if they would have noticed. yeah. >> before we go too far ahead i just want to give you a chance about the story you talked about off-tape when the delegation that you led took to bosnia while you were pregnant. can you tell us about that? >> i got to know bob dole during the bosnian, the former yugoslavia crisis. and during the time, we had an armed embargo out again, and what was happening is there still were arms that were going in to milosevic's area, but not to the croatians and others throughout the yugoslavian area. i had visited there, gone to croatia and became touched by what was going on there, which was very early stages of the genocide that was taking place,
and became more and more involved. i remember going to the vice president, i remember going to the secretary, i remember going to meet with madeleine -- i mean, i went to whoever i could and say, literally, my speech was, i will not be that person. you always want to have those people who were in power during world war ii, you know, felt about their ability to have this, you know, near eradication take place. and now we're watching genocide take place. it's not even we have to hear it from the front page of the paper. it's on the news every night. we have to do something. if at least to end the arms embargo. that's how we got pretty close. we would pass resolutions together and get engaged. so i went when we were still in the minority, and i said i'm going crazy, and we have to do something about this. and he was like form the balkan crisis task force, so i did.
which then you get calls for tv and of course i wanted to do it because i wanted to raise consciousness. and they would say, susan molinari, chairman of the balkans crisis task force, which i made up the day before, but it was enough to get me talking about something i was passionate about. but i stayed and traveled there a bunch of times and never let up. just awful things. and the womens caucus would work very closely. there was this systematic break which is still occurring in places around the globe, but because of the ethnic tensions, the serbian soldiers would come into a village, take all the younger women, would put them in a house and just systematically rape them until they got pregnant and keep them until they couldn't get an abortion and then would let them go. and they would not be welcomed
back from their families because they were impregnated by a serb. i remember one woman who said she had to go to her family and lie. even though bombs are going off where my kids are i had to leave because i knew my life would not be pretty there. once i had the baby, i could go back. so women's groups would bring these women to talk to us so we could understand how horrific the situation was over there without anybody doing anything. so right when we were considering sending peace keepers, newt came to me and said we're going to sell a congressional delegation over of about 25 men and women and i'd like you to lead the delegation. i was about four months pregnant at the time, but they sent a doctor on the plane with me. but still i went over there. interesting time because i would be interviewed by christiane
amanpour, who is very interested in this issue. and it was clear that i was pregnant. i would get the nail from people why would you go to this area while you're pregnant. i got to go face-to-face with slobodan milosevic, and i wasn't going to take any crap. you knew this was this man's worst nightmare. where has the world gone wrong? but at the end we were moving intee sarajevo to meet with the president at the time, and all these people were standing outside applauding us and send peace keepers, send peace keepers. they wanted the u.s. to come in and help end the situation. and so as we were walking and there was a woman who grabbed my hand, and she said please do what you need to, we can't continue like this. and you need to help us. america needs to help us. and i said, well, that's what we're here for.
we're going to take as many facts as we can and bring it back. and she grabbed my hand, touched my belly and she said i just lost my only son, you're going to be a momma, you have to help me. you know, and -- 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 for what needed to be done. sorry about that. >> no, that's fine. how influential was that codel for the colleagues that went with you? >> i think it was extremely influential. it was bipartisan and i think just the ability to get information back. because we were talking to the world leaders, our state department people and to be able to let them know we thought the
situation was ripe. we were still living with this concept that these people have been at war with each other for so long and they'll never learn to get along. i remember saying, not to keep bringing up the mother fight, but i do not believe that there's a mother who loves their child, loves their child less than they hate their neighbor. so nobody wants this to continue. so we were able to be on the ground and see that. we could end this war, and it would end. and so i think it was very influential. coming back at that point, we started working closely with vice president gore and secretary holbrook because they wanted to make sure they had republican support for this, and i think we were able to make it a really nice, important history-making decision. >> were there other women on that codel with you?
>> i'm sure there was but i couldn't tell you. >> that's a pretty large group. >> yeah, it's a large group. again, i think i wanted as many people to meet and be a part of the debate because it was a serious step we were taking. >> how important do you think those delegations were just to see a different side of members and get to know each other? >> there's no doubt that travel -- i never went on any of the glamorous -- i went right before the persian gulf war. i went to israel. if there was action that's where i wanted to be. i didn't do any of those air shows travel. but look, there's something to be said, going back to the conversation of people getting to know one another outside of the floor, being able to spend time together. you then travel as americans, as members of the u.s. congress, not republicans and democrats.
and it does make it a lot easier to collaborate once you get that personal time. i also think when members had their families here it's -- when our wives or husbands are friends, when our kids go to the same school, that sort of makes it a little harder for me to demonize you on a debate on the floor. i remember being at church a couple years ago when i was still doing some politicking, punditry, and it was christmas eve, and we were saying the our father, and i looked over and it was robert gibbs, and like, no more picking on robert gibbs after this. you have those times where you'll cry together or have a serious conversation where you're going to be sending those u.s. troops. and those are things that allow you to come back and trust each other with a debate.
if i'm having that conversation with you overseas or in a war zone i'm going to disagree with you but disagree with you respectfully. i think those trips were very important. not the least of which to bear witness to what goes on in the world and to bring it back. i know there are people who had the tendency to brag they didn't have a passport, but i think when you're elected to the u.s. house of representatives of the united states senate, we do call the president the leader of the free world. and it's nice to be able to get to know places outside of the united states in order to make appropriate decisions. >> just some wrap-up questions. because when you served there were relatively so few women in congress at that time, did you feel that you didn't only represent your constituents but
you represented a larger group of women nationally? >> no doubt about it. no doubt about it. again, you felt you were representing a larger group. i felt more, i don't want to say pressure, because i enjoyed it, but i felt very strongly about the need to get out there and be seen on tv, to opine on issues that i felt were important. again, it's two fold. we all bring our experiences to a discussion, and they're all different experiences. and so i did take very seriously the experience of being a female in bringing that to the discussion. i was not one of those people, sometimes i would go up to somebody and say they did this, but i'm not going to be the female legislator. and i totally respect that, but that was not me. i was going to be the female legislator. there's something going on, regard to any fight, i was going to be the female. so i took that very seriously.
there's a reason i was there. so i worked on behalf of my constituents, on behalf of the issues i was concerned about, balancing the budget, but women were right up there, and not the least of which was there, somebody came up to me and say, i remember watching you on tv, or i heard you give a speech, and that's why i decided to take this chance. it might not even be they decided to run for office, but they decided to take a chance and i think that's really important. >> you touched on a lot of legislative examples but in that regard as political scientists called surrogate representatives, was there one moment that sticks out in your mind as, boy, this issue i'm speaking as a national representative? >> so interestingly during the crime bill president clinton, i
was one of the -- i voted against the rule because it was a closed rule, right? so even though i was forgone for the gun control, that was in there and it meant a lot of money for new york city and everyone was all for it. when the opposing party presents a rule that doesn't allow you to present any amendments, i felt obliged to vote against the rule, which killed the bill at the time. so newt at the time brought five of us together to say we were going -- who wanted to support the bill and wanted to negotiate some amendments. and mine was prior rules of evidence. and the basis of it was in something we're living through right now with bill cosby. in the case of rape and child molestation where it's kind of one word against the other, if there are so many similarities, as there oftentimes are, where the judge would determine it's more probative than
prejudicial to bring these instances in. and so all these cases where somebody -- a man was on trial for rape, and you could prove there had been allegations or even convictions of a rape that occurred, woman same height, blond hair, whatever it is, that there's 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. it does also -- so i had to negotiate with a bunch of people on that including vice president biden who i absolutely adore for many reasons, but one of the reasons was when we were having this negotiations, i had to negotiate with 20 people before they brought him in. you could just tell, they wanted nothing to do with me. first, we were still in the
minority, and here's a young female yanking the majority's chain over the president's signature piece, and then they brought in joe biden. and he was fair. he treated me like an equal. i love him for so many reasons. so many reasons, i think he's just a gift to this country. but on a personal level, and by the way saw him in croatia during the war when i didn't think anybody else cared. but it eventually passed, and that was part of the president's crime bill, and we were able to, i think, bring over about 50 house republican members. >> some of the major issues that affected women, sometimes you were in the republican party. not all of your republican colleagues support as well. so what did you do to try to build support for violence against women and the family medical leave act? >> so if i felt there was a way to actually influence it and
then pass it, i would work with the leadership to try and get it done. if i felt this was just something philosophically was not going to happen, i would work with members to discuss it in a way that was not off putting. sometimes 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 or could change their mind. but if that wasn't the case to get them to speak more graciously about their disagreements. >> were they often receptive to that? >> yeah, i think they were. again, most people here are here for the right reasons and are just bringing their experiences to the table.
i remember one time -- and i won't name the individual, but one of the nicest, sweetest, kindliest gentleman who was very old -- was 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 biased bone in his body, but he yielded the floor to the little lady. women come up to me and say, take -- you have to sometimes interpret. if it was a 30-year-old member who did it, it would be taken in a much different way than somebody who had also been really kind and really fair. and that was just his way. like everything in life, you have to look at the person, not just -- not just the topic at hand. >> in the late spring of 1997
you surprised a lot of observers by saying you were stepping down and going to retire and change careers. why did you decide to leave congress? >> so a couple of reasons. primarily as if i've not talked about my father enough during this interview, my father took this job as a 24/7 job. i mean my dad would be the kind if we were done with dinner and there was nothing else going on, he'd go through the phone book. hi, mr. smith, how are things going? like he just lived and breathed this and this was all you did. and, you know, i had a baby late and loved this job, but it's two jobs. while don't cry for me argentina, when the media says congress is back on vacation, they're not. they're back in their district, you know, doing what their supposed to do. and, again, i never -- if you want me to be at your kid's eagle scout award, throw out your first baseball, you are
giving me -- you said i can vote whether to go to war. this is a big deal. wherever you want me, i'm going to be all the time. so i'd do that, friends would come over take care of my daughter, she had no idea, she was having a great time but then i missed her. and then i would be with her and i felt guilty not being out at your kid's eagle scout award. so when i got the opportunity, which seemed like a good idea at the time to anchor a show on cbs which was supposed to be more political than it turned out to be and work three days a week it sort of keep your hand in it but not really, it seemed like a good opportunity. i feel so strongly the need to say that was a decision i made because of where i was in my life. i have had great friends who have raised their kids in the united states congress and their kids are great and they were great parents. this is not -- i hate the tutorial of who's a better mom
and the mom books and the mom wars. it's just what was right for me at the time and so that's why i decided to leave. >> i want to ask you a legislation question, a broad one. in all of your time in congress in the '90s, what do you think was the most important piece of legislation passed that had a direct impact on women? >> i have to think about that one. going back to the '90s. i think certainly -- it happened before the violence against women act, but i don't know if young people can appreciate the fact that i served on mayor giuliani's commission on the status of women. i was chair of that. and it was at that time mid-'80s we were actually dealing with the fact there were mandatory
arrests and i remember the discussion on domestic violence being something like this. it's a family matter, you go to the door, you know, the cops say to usually the gentleman, buddy, take a walk, cool down. you want to press charges. and even if the woman was clearly, clearly incapacitated and they knew she was scared, if she said no, done, end of deal. close the books. to think of where we have gotten today as a society, and i remember as chairman, i did hearings in the borough on domestic violence, and i remember even my dad saying female victims being shocked by what they had to go through and the situation. it was that family secret. then all of a sudden it became political. people wanted to cosponsor the violence against women act. people wanted to vote for it. people wanted to talk about domestic violence as a political issue, and that's what needs to be done in any of these things. right now we're working on
underage sex trafficking and all of a sudden it's become an issue that's become political. the united states senate passed it, a major piece of legislation underage trafficking passed in both the house and senate, republicans and democrats. but i think the violence against women act was really one of those and the reauthorization because it gave us an opportunity to talk about it, gave us an opportunity to highlight, to give voice to those people who for so long felt like they had absolutely no voice. and brought it out of the closet, and again, made it political. and that's hi we made changes. i bear no apologies to say that, you know, making something political is how you make changes in a democracy, and so when people want to discuss it, when people want to have town halls on it that's when you're going to see a societal shift. i think the whole issue of violence against women, take a walk around the block, protective orders, just
society's response to acknowledging the helplessness that sometimes individuals find themselves in when, you know, they have kids, don't have kids, but you know, just elevating that conversation every time it had to be reauthorized was a really important moment, i think. at least while i was here. >> we've asked you a lot of questions about the past. now we're going to ask you to look into the crystal ball and prognosticate. there's 108 women in congress now. 88 in the house, 20 in the senate. looking out 50 years from now, 50 years from jeannette rankin's centennial, which will be 2067, how many women do you think will be in congress? and how will be get to that point? >> first of all, more 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, anything that is such life that gives you an opportunity to be in such a life changing position isn't going to be easy. women need to be -- so i think we have gotten to a place where i would love because of my lineage as a woman to run, but there was a little bit of an apology there. you're guy's daughter so we can do this. to a point where i remember when my husband was running the national republican congressional committee. they started to look for females. it wasn't like we'll let this one run because they've got the lineage, they can raise the money, they have the right background. it was, if you had two candidates equal, the female was the one the party wanted to go with. so we are seeing change in just a short time. 50 years from now, i hope women are in the majority, as they are
in this country, as they are in the electorate. if we want the united states congress to reflect the united states, we've got to step up. >> if one of your daughters told you they wanted to run for congress, what would you say and what advice would you offer? >> oddly enough in our family what with the grandfather, mother and father who were in congress, this has come up from time to time, and i would certainly encourage it. it's not the easiest road. it's not easy to sometimes put yourself out there, but, boy, the benefits. look, you're talking to me and allowing me to be a part of history. there's not many jobs where you can do that. to get the trust of your neighbors, to be able to make decisions with presidents of the united states and united states senators, and leaders from
around the world, generals. i look back on my life, you know, the first persian gulf war and i said when i walked into the studio, the last time i was in a studio taping a show for my little show on staten island where we brought in all these that saddam hussein had used to keep him safe in the first gulf war, to be able to look back on being able to unite on issues like tailhook and aberdeen, to have fights about funding domestic violence or breast cancer or maybe bringing peace to yugoslavia, where else could you sit back and say the glory days were pretty good. it's not to say i don't love my job right now, but it's a heady experience. and if my daughters wanted to do it, it's going to be tough.
it's not an easy path. but it's unbelievable. i would support them 100%. not pushing them in that direction, by any means. >> looking back on your house career, was there anything unexpected to it or that surprised you about it? >> no, i mean i think if there was anything that surprised me, i know this is going to sound ridiculous is how easy it was. if you wanted to get something done, it didn't always happen, but you were gifted with incredible staff, brilliant people who were surrounding you. the thing that surprises people when they come here this nation is really run by people under 30, but smart people, passionate people. and if you have a cause you're going to pursue and you're going to be dogged, you can usually get it done.
and i think that was sort of a surprise for me. and it was not a surprise for me particularly then on how bipartisan it was because my dad was so bipartisan. i remember my dad when i won, we were walking into the fox studio for something, and he said here's a guy you're going to work with because he's a good guy and he's going to help you. i looked and it was chuck schumer. and he was right. because we were both new yorkers, senator schumer now. there'd be times where we'd battle but there would be times as a delegation, we would totally unite, and certainly if you're from new york city, you had to fight a significant portion of the rest of the united states congress, republicans and democrats. >> we've asked you a lot of questions. thank you for answering. >> i hope it was okay. >> it's great. i just have one final questions for you. what do you think your lasting legacy will be as a member of
congress, years from now when people see your name, what do you think they'll say? >> i don't think they'll remember. i was there for so short a period of time. i was such a blip. if there were people who could remember i would like it to be so if i was going to write my own legacy, let's do that. it would be she could work across the aisle and she could work with people with whom she disagreed but respected. and i always felt really proud to be a part of this institution. >> sounds like a great legacy. >> thank you so much. >> thank you. >> washington unfiltered. c-span in your pocket. download c-span now today.
>> weekends on c-span2 are an intellectual feast. every saturday, american history tv documents america's story, and on sunday, book tv featured nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span2 comes from these television companies and more. including spark light. >> the greatest town on earth is the place you call home. at spark light, it's our home too. and right now, we're all facing our greatest challenge. that's why spark light is working around the clock to keep you connected. we're doing our part so it's a little easier to do yours. >> spark light, along with these television companies, support c-span2 as a public service. >> veterans from world war ii through the iraq war have told their stories and recorded oral history interviews which have aired in their entirety on american history tv. coming up next, to m