tv Oral Histories Women in Congress - Susan Molinari Interview CSPAN November 9, 2021 7:31pm-9:18pm EST
she's involuntary served in the u.s. house of representatives through 97 as a republican from new york. coming up next, the daughter of congressman guy molinari talks about a series of -- office of the historian you conducted this interview. >> my name is kathleen johnson, and i'm with the head historian. the date is january 8th, 2016, we are in the house recording studio. and i'm pleased to be speaking with former presented, susan molinari from new york. >> i'm pleased to be part of this project. so this project that we are working on is to celebrate and recognize the election of jeannette rankin 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?
>> no. 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 maybe in 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. i don't really have anyone when i was young that was female. >> 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 in the new york city
state assembly and then a borough 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 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, would i have thought that i would run for office. i just enjoyed being part of that 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 memories. that is going not that i wasn't taught or need to be torn away from my father. but i went to the state university of new york in albany. and would meet him for lunch and find every opportunity i
could to go down there. and oftentimes. he looked lived with other members of the assembly, and that was a big treat. and we would listen to them calculate the debates we would have the next day. so they would be drinking sam bucca or something, engaging with the topic was going to be the next day. and the roles they would play. and it 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. 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 opposed to the political party. so my dad was teaching me the lessons, congressman chuck schumer. he saved a hospital that was about to close. a public health hospital. and in many other areas, as a freshman member. because you didn't know any better. because it wasn't supposed to be able to have that kind of clout to figure things out. so those are the memories i have my dad. didn't walk around and he just took them down. >> why did you decide to run for congress in 1990? >> it was city council. that was my first elected 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 molinari for the new york state assembly? he would say, my daughter. i learned to speak publicly before i knew 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? 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. you became so convinced that you have to
win. so iran for new york city council when my dad decided to run for a borough president. mayor giuliani asked me my father to run, to increase republicans on staten island. my mother was diagnosed, not long before not long before that, it was a muscle disease. so is the right thing, he won borough president, which is left -- left his congressional seat. it was just a dream come true, 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 you told him you 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. he was more my emotional adviser, if you will. of course, i had his campaign -- i was so blessed, because i had his campaign major, his fund-raiser, 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 you did or how it's all going. he could be a real place of calm, a little oasis. >> 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. particularly it being a special election. there was awesome a lot going on -- and because you are in the special, you have all the intensities of your political party. they send 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 but heavily watched. the media focuses on special elections. so the intensity, it's something i remember. when i first took up running, that was then, because i needed to -- i'm showing my age, i was going out with my walkman. the kids will say, what's a walkman? i needed to, because it was the time i could be myself. without everyone telling me what to do, how to dress. what to say. so that was the way to avoid commotion. >> you mentioned, on the new york city council, you had that prior political experience. how does that compare with your house 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 officially o on all the committees. and had to negotiate the city budget. i had a car driver, one of four people who have an office in city hall. i was fortunate to serve under mayor one koch who taught me a lot and i had some great mentors along the way. very fair. 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 to hone your debating skills. because 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 year, under george bush. and either get to serve another master -- we were in and out of the white house all the time, negotiating things like a civil rights bill, transportation bill, americans with disabilities. you really put forward some amazing piece of legislation. we were all very active as members of the party. so the issues were just on a bigger stage. and of course we were all there for the first gulf war. >> you mention the fact, you are only 27 when you joined the new york city council, but, you were in your early thirties when he campaigned for the house. was age an issue? >> i got sworn in on my 32nd birthday, which was cool. age was an issue, very much.
and so i looked shorter, i'm five foot two. i looked younger and shorter than i was. so i dressed in a less mature fashion. so i think age was, when i first campaign, the gentleman who ran against me, would constantly -- this was caught for congress. he would mention that he was married, he had a house, he had a mortgage. he tried to bring in his life experience to say, now, here is, at the time we were running, a 31 year old who's only been in public life recently. so in the new york city council, i was the stand out and being so young, there was a significant amount of women in the council who are very strong and smart. so ironically that was not an issue in my first job. it>> was gender an important issue that you had during the campaign? >> ... it wasn't for me.
but it was for my opponents. gender, yes, it was always an issue where ... there would be the whisper campaign. right? again, once the younger female who is going to try to tell people what to do was always sort of the whisper. on the other hand, the voters are reasonable people, and people are represented -- you know, the older people, i was almost their granddaughter, or their daughters, so i did not feel it from the voters. yeah. >> can you describe the district for us geographically and demographically? yes, stain island, brooklyn, they ridge, my logo connected to parts of the district. at the time it was
predominantly italian american, irish american, there was a jewish population, very ethnic, second, third generations. probably second generation in brooklyn, maybe third generation by the time you know they'd moved to staten island. really lively, loving, just a terrifically warm place where everybody assumes that they know everybody and they usually do. it is the one degree of separation in the district as it was then. so, it was a really great and gracious place to live and serve and half my first babies. >> we also have your data on the role, he plays in your campaign, what about -- did he offer you advice? >> my dad and i worked together a lot. he did a lot of coordinating. because again, he starting, off he was a counselor, i was in city council. we would talk in meetings, and i'd be able to say, look at just talk to appropriators, -- when we switched, i was in the midst of building a senior
citizen club in the basement of a church. [laughs] you know, i made that promise that he was going to take that up. my dad always brought this to the homeport, and then it became my job as the base of the commission. and so, we -- yes, my father would give me advice. my father has an amazing political -- he's 87 years old, he's still one of the smartest political people that i know. they would not be unusual for him to call me and say, i think that this is a great issue for you jump on, register that this wants you to do this. most of the time was more collaborative relationship that we had in trying to work together to bring resources of the federal and the city together for staten island in brooklyn. >> are there any challenges, or maybe obstacles in succeeding your father? you talk about some of those, but what about the others? >> for me, it is self-imposed. always being afraid --
you know, he's just a terrific person with an amazing background, resume, ability to command, speak, passion, all of those things, and would if i got out there and screw this up? [laughs] i mean, that was more my concern than anything than any of the pressure. so yes, there was something that i put on myself. i think that the fact that i was female differentiates me, my style, and my politics were different, and i think it made it a little bit easier for us. to have our own groundwork, if you would. and then of course i got the benefits of being in the majority, which he never got to be, and all these years that you serve in congress, so that gives you a whole different opportunity to get things down. >> >> 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. and you know i think -- i think about standing there, you know, being giving a speech by my dad and -- sure we have moments where we're like, might -- i got a, name he did say was great, i remember going in and saying, i got a free masters because they offer me to mission and that's a, great okay on to the next one is always the person you say i, remember all these little things. oh my friends got a dollar forgetting and a on the report card, and he'd say i want you to get an a because you want to get an a. and if you need a dollar give you dollar but there's no connection there. and, so i always sort of felt that it was not good enough. and there was that moment that i spit on the house floor, and i could see that in his eyes. it was a game-changer in our relationship. >> another type of question that we wanted to ask you about was for the couple of handouts that we showed you before the interview, the second one areas from your dad, a button.
we do not know if you had any sort of stories about, even if not a particular button from your dad, which is campaigning in general, and some of the materials that you might have used. >> you know we were big into the lawn signs. [laughs] and all of the pins. we didn't do the soaps are nail polish. [laughs] but we did a lot of that stuff. and you would have these grilling conversations about a new generation of leadership, which would be why -- you to put a lot of thought into that. but i do remember in one of my dad's first campaigns, one of the slogans that i came up with was this diatribe. so we could see that on his buttons. but we have those conversations back and forth, wouldn't work, and what would work. i mean, 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 and would come in -- and have some good people at the time there >> 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. 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 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. 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. 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 -- 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 tail hook or aberdeen, and in the lobby winded of going out at the same time to hear the story that was breaking and pat being on the armed services committee organized this meeting shortly thereafter. it must have been aberdeen and was able to organize this
meeting where, you know, the generals had to come in and the caucus and see what was going on and how they were monitoring it. and i think that it was that, there were those issues. allowing us to stand each other up and challenge the way that things that have been down. so, yes, i learned a lot from congresswoman schroden she was great, she was tough, she was smart. but i think that we all kind of stood each other up at those moments to say this is not just for us. and then, once you have a baby girl. [laughs] [inaudible] so determined to change this world for her. >> how important you think that it was for you and other women members to have a separate space and the capital with what is now the -- >> i thought it was really important, look. 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. senator hutchinson threw me a party when i got engaged. it's 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 little on your memories of the women's caucus. just basically, when did it mean. how would you describe the early leadership? >> we did meet and the wendy
boggs room off of statuary hall. as a smaller group than. we will talk about some of those issues, and an example if i remember there was an issue surrounding the of breast implants. one of our female members had breast cancer, it was talking about reconstruction. and then, at the fda, the commissioner we felt was a little bit cavalier and not understanding the discussion that was taking place as opposed to just being truly cosmetic. rallied around this one member and we all kind to say, how do we help? how do of rallied around we expand the conversation? this one member to say, okay, how do we help? how do we expand this conversation? when there were some when there were some disagreements of the violence disagreements of the violence against women act, we would 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 right wing extremists. we would have those
conversations that would allow us to actually acknowledge, the difficulties of our political parties. and we are we'd agreed to disagree, and where 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 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. >> no. we are all different people. we were different ages, came from different political parties, different philosophies. those political parties, have different geographic spectrums. so there are issues where we would certainly disagree. but even on an issue like abortion, i think we recognize that women leaders needed to be a part of that conversation, as opposed to the people who listen to the conversation. or lead the end of that 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 very conservative wing of the party. not my colleagues but the people who would do fundraising. and they targeted me, and when i ran for vice chair, they went all out to campaign against me. whatever caricature they could plan. but at the same time, i think
it made me a fighter. i was forced to be tougher. isn't that 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, the people i was debating didn't take me seriously, until i got up there and it was too late. i think the same thing happens when you're 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 was it 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, and bringing the 31 of us together, gave 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 removed from the the political sphere. >> exactly, somewhat removed from the political sphere. but obviously politics is on a way different level than it was when you are 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 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. >> 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, i had a great time with that. and then they sectioned off education and labor. john kasich asked me to go on budget when he took over a chair of the budget committee. so we balanced the budget for
the first time in a generation. there were some great history happening. i'm digressing to a female story. i was on education and labor. and then a proponent for family and medical leave. in the republican party. and 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 make these decisions. but based on your own discussion, where 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 man on the stage is hearing what i'm hearing. >> one question we've been asking a lot of our interview interview subjects, 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, 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 think that the debate and the decisions become fairer, 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? >> it was fine. look -- 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, 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 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 used to be a really good assignment. [laughs] >> 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. and bring a lot of projects in 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 subcommittee on transportation. >> yes. >> i was the experience like and how would you describe your leadership style? >> i loved it. 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 loved 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 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 who gave up their time to travel and that didn't get paid to come testify, 27 people would go vote, they would be testifying before me and one other person. and i felt awful. and so the person who put the most effort in testified first. and the administrator had to hear them, and i thought that that was important. that i wasn't whipping them in and out. you are doing your job when you are sitting here testifying. so that was a change i made. >> 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 wasn't still is an operation 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 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 do not lose a lot of money. so aviation safety was a big issue for my dad. of course, the district that i came from, there were a lot of flights coming from kennedy. that was something that i became interested in. and then the issues that came down the pike. >> do you want to break? here >> 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 was my own ambition. but also i thought that there needed to be a woman in leadership. and at that point, it was so interesting. because another candidate ran also, and there was this perception that only one of us could win. they would only be room for one female, even though the rest of the leadership was male. so we attributed to our colleagues, both of us one. but there really was -- i remember when, i think i came up first. and once i won, the guy who is running, what he would say, we only have room for one here. it's funny, i haven't even thought about that in so long.
but i think it's 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 in order to have a majority and a successful majority. >> he said part of it was your ambition. were you recruited by anybody? and why did you select the vice chair for this position to run after? >> there were people who came up to me and said, i think you should do this. we need a woman, we need someone who is comfortable speaking, disagreeing, all
those things. so i thought about it and decided i would give it a shot. very much lived my life. i would much rather make mistakes that live with regret. again those mistakes don't hurt anybody except myself. so there's this moment of, you should run for the new york city council, and i said, oh, i'm scared of that, i guess i have to do it! i could lose, i guess i have to do it. >> not much is written about the leadership races, it's kind of an inside baseball thing -- >> yeah. >> so can you describe a little bit of your campaign, what that was like? >> it's more than just contacting people. 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 ringing doorbells and writing checks. and talking to their friends,
then i get the job. they get the satisfaction of being on a winning team. those are the kinds of things that you do. as everyone likes to be asked. you have meetings with as many people as possible. i do remember, i was running against a great guy named cliff stern's, and i had people who would come up to me and say, oh, is this true or not? i would love to vote for you but we are such good friends at the gym. oh, the gm i'm not allowed into? back in the day, we had separate gyms. so there was -- i don't necessarily need to be in a towel with a bunch of sweating in. but there is another one of those occasions where you interacted not as member of congress but as people who are trying to lose weight or just in a relationship or another area. i had to overcome that from a relationship standpoint. and that's another difference.
>> did anyone run your campaign? with someone active in trying to push it? >> i was surrounded with strong political people. one happened to be my father, another my husband. so it was helpful. in general, everyone was pretty helpful. >> at the time, you are the highest ranking women in the gop leadership. why did that mean to you personally? and also from the larger perspective, what did it mean to the party? >> it is a great, incredible honor. and i know this sounds schmaltzy, and there is the age thing that goes on -- but it's really cool when somebody comes up to me and says, i remember watching you when i was growing up!
and that's when i decided to go into politics. [laughs] i but there is that. right? there is that. you need to have that person who looks a bit like you, in order to inspire you, give you the confidence, give you the idea that you can. ironically, a conversation will happen in technology, right now. we still need to have it in tech politics. that's politics. part of it was. i'm going to make sure that, okay, young girls, growing up, can see someone say, hey, 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 represented by people who can connect with others. so, i think that is probably one of reasons why i won. because those were the days when we were a big tent, 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 an appropriations bill 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 well? which, of course, got all these great because there were all these men around the table who had been raised by single mothers. and that was something that, you know, i had to bring it to their attention.
and then they reacted the appropriate way. that's just one example of being able to sit at the table, where you can have that and enforced change. the best example, which i think is still active, actually a creation of constituents. he came to me in the republican leadership. he was the sponsor, i was the co-sponsor. then we flipped then i have gone to newt and said we should be supporting this. we agree on this. it's not mandated, it's voluntary. the stand can go up to eight cents more and it would go to d.o.d.. for the tracking they did with military personnel. and we reach an audience that we are having a problem with. so new said, that's fine. great, 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 molinari
bill will be introduced, and i said, i cannot do that, it's his bill. and i got to the floor of the house and i said, it's your call. and i'm horrified i have to have this conversation. but they are willing to pull it up, which means it's non suspension, you don't have to go through hearings and everything. he just moved along. and i remember, at that moment, someone saying, hey, what's going on? and he said, just waiting to be a member of the minority. that was so great. gracious of. him [laughs] and do whatever we need to do to get this through and moving. >> what was your welcome in the leadership circle? what are your memories of 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 things like breast cancer stamps, move some important pieces of legislation. relative to women and minorities. i think initially, in those days, there was this excitement about finally getting there. 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 tom delay, and we did different tables and of course all the women members were there. and we said, we want to establish a dialogue with you all. with the magazines. it's not just the people who read the wall street journal. or new york times.
it's people who read red book and other magazines that get some of their information. the political information, i mean. so we wanted to -- if you had an issue you wanted to highlight, be able to highlight, you would call us 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. people would come to me, probably, more in the other positions, if they had an issue that they wanted to bring up. they weren't sure if it was appropriate, if they want to talk through something. because conferences where you would really get together and
iron out your concept and frustration. so a lot of times it was, the appropriate place so there was a lot of that. >> -- >> how closely did you work with -- >> very closely. our staff work together a lot. >>? >> were you involved with the drafting of the contract with america? >> no, 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 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 chance at a majority. something that hadn't been done in a generation. ten things we would do in the
first 100 days. whether you agree with the contractor not, i think it's a good way to govern. >> can you describe the atmosphere in the house during that transition to power? >> crazy. because, literally, we were passing these major pieces of legislation and 100 days. all the time. i never wanted to help during those times, you are running between committee meetings, hearings, mockups. on the floor, it was just insane. i remember there was actually a saturday night live clip with chris farley, where he kept rushing, with new green grinch. pass, pass. and coming into the majority, and the optimism, just thinking about, those ten pieces of legislation, happening in 100 days. it was crazy. >> what role did women republican members play during that period? besides you in 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 way to turn because you are female. they wanted u.s. bouncing, speaking, doing talk shows. getting on cnn. doing what you needed to get the message out there, to be a messenger for the republican party. women did a lot of that. >> one big example of that was that you gave the keynote address at the republican convention in san diego in 1996. >> yes. >> what did 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 from almost a day i get to san diego, all my friends are there, having parties. i'm in this little trailer, learning to read from left to right. and so that's all i did. and the way they work is, the podium stays the same and there is a box underneath. and you go early in the day and you get measured for high how the box has to be. so the teleprompter can reach you. so the deal was, governor witman, kristie todd women, was
going to introduce my district. staten island, the ferry. 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 women can only right out there and say, here is susan, here's her speech. so there is the prompter, i can't see the prompter. and there is that moment, really? you lose that. and suddenly you are thinking, should i say, ladies and gentlemen, we are having some technical difficulties, we are going to have a five second break? but you can't do that. and to this day, --
every time i see john kasich on tv i say, i will never forgive him! [laughs] but again, what an amazing honor, to be a keynote speaker. and to be a keynote speaker for bob dole. i loved 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 legislator. he does not do gender, race, he sees america. he's a super, terrific guy. i have gotten to know him so well. on legislation. and to have gotten that confidence from him is really neat. >> and his running mate to, jack kemp. >> and his running mate, jack kemp, afterwards, right. what an exciting time. >> were you surprised that you are asked to give the address? >> yes.
so before the days of -- we were baptizing the baby. so the children, both girls, were born in staten island. [laughs] [inaudible] so sometimes we couldn't collaborate. and we had that piece of history, to be with them. so i think they were baptized on the announcement tour. the old guys traveling, with the wife and the kids, and we will go to his district and say, he has maybe 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 -- 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. we do not have cellphones. 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 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 mick novelty, a democrat, he was in the chair. when my husband and i. we would chad in the back. and we ran into each other, and said, i just want to let you know, i spoke to your mom and your dad today. and he handed me the ring and i was like, get up, get up. because the congressman saw something. and then -- they had a quorum called. and so they wanted the members there, to hear the closing. but before they did, the
speaker gave this beautiful, beautiful speech that i just want to tell everyone, before the debate, there are some really great things that happened on the floor of the house of representatives. and he gave this beautiful speech about us getting engaged. then the next day there are all these one minute speeches -- will the children be democrats? and then it's so heartwarming to have the family of the u.s. house of representatives 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 capitol the 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 and the cases. and to 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. 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 patience, 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 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
there was even green. so it wasn't quite the shock because she had just been there. the colleagues were so sweet. the gifts would pour in, and people would say, 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 from them? you mentioned he needed green. >> no, not really. i think we were oftentimes barrage by advice that we don't want an don't need. sometimes we are more reticent to put that on to another. you've got all this together, you don't need me. but there is a lot of love. >> what about blanche lumber lincoln? she was also pregnant at the
same time. >> yes, some tv show came into my house and they were like, okay, let's see the house. you have a smoke alarm? and 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 crib in my room, and if i had a meeting, and he was sleeping, i would trade offices with my husband. and i would say, and whisper, hey, can i meet in your office? so it was very lucky.
>> what was that, the media attention? what was that like? >> oh, the media attention. because i was one of a few members married. but you had the entire media looking for that mother's day hook. john, give me something on mother's day! [laughs] literally, we had to have a press conference, it was 14 hours labor, and then a caesarean. so after they took her, i started shaking. because 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. the world media outside ready. all good, all good, though. all people should have such problems in >> life sounds
like a happy mother's day. >> it was a wonderful mother's day. and the announcement was, we had reels and reels of television coverage. 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, 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 around the train. it's a little loud but she loved it. and it did give me an opportunity. right after i had given birth, we were moving the vietnam while, a replica of the vietnam wall. and it was going to be taken to places around the country. it was coming to fort hamilton in my district. and i felt very strongly about having to be there. so that sort of got me started,
getting back. and there are days, when you are younger, things you have to do as a mother that that was just never an issue. but i went back just because of my extraordinary circumstances. >> besides your husband, where there are other members that helped you out? >> i do recall, being on the house floor, it was one of those nights where we were voting until, we'll, back in the day you would vote until sometimes 11:00 at night. it had gotten hard. and i decided to go the route. i know this is hard for some people to picture -- tom delay, i was like, can you hold her? it was great. [laughs] those are the things. nothing easier than making friends when you're holding a cute little baby. >> you ready for the next
section? >> sure. >> we are going to shift gears a bit and asked 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 in pants. and, so, i was giving it one minute, and the need to stay vigilant in this defense. so, i had nice black, 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 my chief astead the new york times, daily news, they all called. literally, i thought to myself, i guess we are making news because young female, pro defense, new york city. the homeport was pretty controversial. and we started making the phone calls back and it turned out i was the first female to war wear pants on the house of representatives. and you will have to research this, but as best as i can determine, there wasn't a dress code for females when they were doing those things. because they didn't think there would be any females on the house floor. but, yes, i was in a magazine, and i went on the kathy and regis show. because i wore pants for the first time. >> this is all external. your colleagues didn't comment?
>> no, now that all. i mean i would be really 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 bob dole during the former yugoslavia crisis. during that time, we had an arms embargo against them. what was happening, there were still funds going to the milosovic area but not to the croatians and others. not to the former yugoslavian area. and i had been there once, had gone to croatia. and became touched by what was going on, in the very 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. you always remember the people who are in power during will do or to, the people who had the power, to prevent the eradication. and now we are watching genocide take place. it's not like we have to turn to the front page of our papers, it's on the news every night. we can do something. we could end the arms embargo, so it could be a fair fight. so that was how we got to be pretty close. and get engaged. and so i went to newt -- i guess we were still in the minority. and i said, we need to do something about this. and the balkans [inaudible] so i did.
and then you get called, and of course i would go, because i wanted to raise consciousness. and here is susan molinari, head of the balkans [inaudible] , which i made up the day before. and i went and travel there are bunch of times. and they were just awful things. and the women's caucus, we would work quite closely. systematic rape occurred, around the globe. but because of the tensions, the serbian soldiers would come into a village, take all the younger women, put them in a house. and they would get systematically raped until they got pregnant. and keep them there so they couldn't get an abortion. and then let them go. they would not be welcomed back by their families because they were pregnant. and so i remember a woman who
went to her daughters and said, mom, my sister said, wherever -- and even the winds were going off, i had to leave them. because i knew that my life would not be pretty there, and then we would bring these women over talk to us. and horrific, the situation was horrific over there. no one was doing anything. so right when we were considering peacekeepers, people would come to me and we said, we are going to send a congressional delegation over, with about 25 men end women, and i would like you to lead that delegation. i was four months pregnant at the time. but they sent a doctor on the plane with me. but still, i went over there. it was an interesting time because i was being 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 go face to face with milosovic and always pregnant. where has the world gone wrong for me? [laughs] 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 my hand to say, please, please, please do what you need to. we can't continue like this. you need to help us. america needs to help us. and i said, that's what we are
here for, we will take as many facts as we can and bring it back. she grabbed my hand, touch my belly and said, i just lost my only son. you will be a mama, you have to help me. oh -- yes ... so i got some criticism for going. as somebody who is about to have a baby, but, relative to the conversations that we were having, i think it increased my perspective on what needed to be done. sorry about that. >> that's fine. >> how influential was that for the colleagues went with you? >> it was extremely influential. 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 did want to make sure that they had republican support for this. and, i think we were able to make, it really, a very nice, important, history making decision. >> were there other women on that congressional delegation with you?
>> 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 be part of the debate because it was a serious step we were taking. >> how important do you think those delegations were to get to see a different side of each other? >> there is no doubt. the travel -- it's something -- i never went on the glamorous ones, like before 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. air shows. but it's something a biden a ban again about the fact, of being out and spending time together. traveling and being members of congress, not republicans and democrats. it makes it a lot easier to
collaborate once you get back. that personal time. i also think that when members had their families here -- it's -- when our wives or husbands are friends, when the kids go to school, i think it makes it harder to demonize you on the debate, and on the floor. i remember being in church a couple years ago. i was still doing some politicking and punditry. and so i looked over and i said, it was robin, it was robert gibbs -- [laughs] and it was like, no more picking on robert! you have those moments when you are on your trip. there are times when you all cry together. or you had 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 brag that they didn't have a passport. but when you are elected to the u.s. house of representatives, or the senate, you call the president a leader of the free world. it's nice to be able to get to know places outside the united states, in order to make appropriate decisions. >> this is just a wrap up 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 yourself on tv, you a pine on issues that are important. again, it's twofold. we all bring our experiences to a discussion. and there are all different experiences. so i take seriously the experience of being a female. bringing that to the discussion. i was not one of those people who would go up to someone and say, they did this, and i'm not going to be the female legislator. i totally respect that. but that was not me. i was going to be the female legislator. and with regards to that, going on. in any place, i was going to be the female. so i took that very seriously. so yes, i was working on behalf
of my constituents, on behalf of the issues i was concerned about. all those things that the republican party, that women, -- and someone 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 they are one moment where that sticks out in your mind? we are, boy, on this issue, and speaking as a national representative? >> so, interestingly, during the crime bill, president clinton -- i voted against the rule,
because it was a closed rule. so even though i was looking for the gun control there, there was a lot of money for new york city, mailer mayor giuliani. but when the opposing party doesn't present a rule that doesn't allow you to present amendments, i was obliged to vote against it. killed the bill at the time. so we brought five of us together, who want to support the bill and wanted to negotiate some amendments. and it was the basis of it, something we are living through right now with bill cosby. in a case of child molestation one word against the other. if there are so many civil averaged similarities at there oftentimes are. where it's determined that is more appropriate and beneficial to bring the individuals in.
so, all these cases were somebody, a man was on trial for rape and you can prove that there's been allegations or even convictions. a rate that occurred. women, same height, blonde here, wearing tennis shoes. whatever it is. there is a pattern there. the guy would get convicted and it would always be overturned. so that became my thing with the crime bill. i had to negotiate with people, including vice president biden, whom i absolutely adore. . for many reasons. but one of the reasons we had these negotiations, you could just tell they wanted nothing to do with it. first of all, they were in the minority. so here's the young female,
dragging the majority thing over the presidents signature piece. he was up there and he treated me like an equal. i mean, i left for so many reasons. so many reasons. i think he is just such a gift to this country. but on a personal level and by the way, i saw him in croatia during the war when i didn't think anybody else cared. but that was the legislation that eventually passed. that was part of the presidents crime bill and we were able to bring over 60 5:55 to 60 republican members. >> of the major issues that affected women. sometimes you are in the republican party not all of your republican parties supported you as well. so what did you do to support the violence against women and medical leave app? >> if i felt there was a way to actually influence and pass it,
i would work with the leadership to try and get it done. if i felt that this was something that philosophically would not would happen, i worked with members in a way that was not off putting. in a sometimes fathers knows best way of handling it. so i would try both ways. to try to get people i can tell them where they were wrong where they could change their minds. or speak more graciously about things. >> where they often receptive to this? >> yes, i think they were. >> again, most people here are here for the right reasons. they bring their experiences to the table. just bringing their
i remember one time i won't name the individual, but was the nicest, sweetest, kindest gentleman who was very cold by the time i was there. he yielded the floor to me. one of the most gracious individual. he does not have a biased bone in his body. but he yielded the floor. [laughs] you have to sometimes interpret were is coming from. if it was a 30 year old who did it you would take it in a different way. that was just his way he was really fair. i guess everything in life you is not just the topic at hand. >> in the late spring of 1997,
you surprised a lot of folks saying you are stepping down, 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 how are things going -- like he just lived and breathed this. and this is all he did. loved this job, but it's two jobs. don't cry for me argentina, but when the media would say congress is back on vacation, they're not. they're doing what they're supposed to do. back in their district. if you want me to be at your kids eagle scout award, you want me to throw the first baseball, you said that i can
decide whether to go to war, it's 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, she was having a great time. by a missed her. and then i would be with her and i felt guilty about not being at out at your kids eagle scout game. so, when i got the opportunity, it seemed like a good idea at the time to anchor a show on cbs. it turned out to be more political. it was a way to keep your hand in it, but not really. i just feel so strongly to this day that the decision i made, because of where i was in my life. i had great friends who had raised their friends in the united states congress. their kids were great. they were great parents. this is not, i hate the tutorial of who's a better mom and the mom works. it was just what was right for me at the time.
and that's why i decided. >> i wanted to ask you a legislation question. in your time in congress, in the 1990s, what do you think was the most important piece of legislation passed, that had a direct impact on women? i will think about that one. >> going back to the nineties ... i think, certainly -- it happened before, right? the violence against women act. but i don't know if young people can appreciate that. i served on mayor giuliani's committee on the status of women and it was at that time in the mid 1980s that we were 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. by the, take a walk, cool down. and ask, do you want to press charges? even if the woman was clearly intoxicated. and she said, no, done, close the books. to think of where we have gotten today as a society. and i remember, my dad sitting there, hearing female victims, even my dad being shocked by what they had to go through. with the situation. it was that family secret. and then all of a sudden it became political. right? people want 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 act, 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 it 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 societal shift. and that's the whole issue of violence against women. buddy, take a walk around the block, protective orders. societies are acknowledging the
helplessness that individual sometimes find themselves in. and just elevating that conversation. it's 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 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 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, 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 you that they want to run for congress, what would you say in white advice would you give? >> oddly enough -- [laughs] it was a grandfather, mother, father, in congress. 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. 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, taking taping the show from staten island, we broaden human shields who saddam hussein had used to keep himself safe during the gulf war. to be able to unite with my sisters, on issues like tail hook and aberdeen. and domestic violence or breast cancer. maybe doing a little part to bring peace to the former yugoslavia. where else can you sit back and say, well, the glory days have been really good? but, i mean, it's a heady 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. >> looking back on your house career, was there anything to it? >> looor that surprised you abo? >> no, i think if there was anything that surprised me, and i know it's going to sound ridiculous, is how easy it was. like if you wanted to get something done, it didn't always happen. but you're gifted with incredible staff. brilliant people who are surrounding you. the thing that surprises most people is that the police is really run by people under 30. it's smart people, passionate people. and if you have a cause that you will pursue, you are and you're going to be delegate, you can usually get it done. i think that was the surprise
for me. it was not a surprise for me, particularly than with how bipartisan it was. my bad was my dad was so bipartisan. i remember my dad when i won we were walking into the fox studio, and he said here is the guy who you're going to work with. he's a good guy, he's gonna help. you and i look, and it's chuck schumer. and he was right. you know? because we were both new yorkers. senator schumer now. there would be times when we would battle, but there would also be times when at the delegation, you totally unite. certainly if you are from new york city. [laughs] he had to fight a significant battle to get to the united states congress. >> we've asked you a lot of questions. thank you. >> oh, my gosh. i hope it was okay. it was great. >> i just have one final question for. you >> sure. >> what do you think your lasting legacy will be as a representative of congress? years now, when people see your name, what do you think they will say? >> oh, gosh.
i don't think they will remember. i would say it was such a short period of time. it was such a blip. if there were people who could remember, i would like it to be -- if i was going to write my own legacy, let's do that. it could be that we could work across the aisle. and she could work with people with whom she didn't agree but she really respected. and always felt really proud to be part of this institution. >> sounds like a great legacy. >> thank you so much for sharing. >> thank you. [laughs]
>> veterans from world war ii through the iraq war have recorded oral history interview. coming up next, to mark this veterans day, we hear excerpts from a selection of these veterans. begin with a firsthand account of the raising of the american flag at equal jima. >> when the flag went up, we had no idea what was going on. . we were too busy in our own little way to pay attention to what anybody was doing. but suddenly around me, i guess