tv Oral Histories Women in Congress - Susan Molinari Interview CSPAN November 10, 2021 2:11am-4:09am 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 so whitman at this time was going to introduce like my district. the whole bit and the cases during that time so john gets all excited and he goes this is going on much longer than it was supposed to. i am up against this in california, 10:00 o'clock, and in the middle of the speech. as the speed at 11:00 o'clock. so now congresswoman, and i can out there in the prompters, i cannot see the prompters. and i was like really. so then your thinking should i say this were having difficulties we need a 52nd break. helen thinking of all of these things, i've already started.
so it was what it was. but to this day, i'll never forget that one. but again, what an amazing time. and speaking for bob dole, i loved working with senator dole. i got to know him because we work closely together on several pieces of legislation. unlike he does not see age or gender. really super terrific guy read and i had gotten to know him so well pretty and to have gotten that was really pretty neat. and exactly. to put his fate with a group hundred great group.
>> we surprised. >> i guess before the days of cell phone, we were on baptizing the babies so both girls were born in staten island and baptized there. sometimes we just couldn't we love our district so much predict and so i think baptizing susan or like his own like his announcements. you know the old guy is traveling with the licenses we would go to he was so cute, he had maybe six or seven announcements. we work in a bar partied we were having dinner my mother-in-law was back in the city and we were, like a remembrance amount. [laughter]
[inaudible]. and they said call senator dole for the keynote speaker and i had no clue probably is close enough. and so, do you know who will nominate you and he's the only thing they could say is do you have cell phones and they were like a, we can make a call. so there is a cell phone that is outside of the kitchen. [laughter] and i am on the phone. and i am saying thank you so much. i was really surprised. i laughed because i say this for him and i felt like it was a set up for me. and announcing that is running for reelection. >> you talked about your marriage particularly while you are member in the congress and
so first thing. with the reaction of your colleagues. >> the bill was proposed in the house floor. not publicly, is during those times when congress was in session but nobody was there. ... ... but mcnulty saw something. and then that night, we had a break it was defense authorization or appropriations brochure. that a quorum call because it was such a divisive bill at
the time. they won the numbers to the closing of the debate. before they did bigger fully gave a beautiful beautiful speech i want to share with everybody before we get into this debate or show the differences that there are some really great things that happen on the floor of the house of representatives. i gave a beautiful speech about bella my getting engaged is always a one minute special orders may have a bunch of children may they all be democrats. it was so heartwarming to have the family of the u.s. house of representatives congratulate us, be really happy for us. >> what about your constituents what was their reaction? >> they were thrilled, they were thrilled they were thrilled. we had so much press. those one picture coming on the steps of the capitol the next day at. [laughter] taking pictures from people of other countries. their programming people
thinking they were somebody important but got back. the constituents were so excited by that point i go to a lot of his events he comes a lot of my events. my little italians loved him, the hugs and the kisses. they tried to teach them how to say things in italian. so very excited, really excited it was lovely. what are there any obstacles or challenges being married to another member of congress? orcs know. i understand. i guess if we're married but bill would come to visit were going to go out to louisiana dinner all of a sudden i got an emergency call there's going to be a meeting when you can look at somebody and say i'm so sorry this just came up with joy important in my district. we'll go out tomorrow night i have to do this. and he is like of course he would totally understand that.
that have to live with my dad were one so i did think mike daughter is running for governor. he would announce it to the press before we have a discussion. to have someone who understood it and respected it made it so much easier. travel would be an issue, i would take her but will go back to our district. that was the only challenging part. in terms of having people understand what you're going through, needing help, needing patients it is a gift. a couple years later as you mentioned you had your daughter. you're one of a small group of women in the house to give birth. what was the response of your colleagues when they heard you
were pregnant? quick super. right before they was enid who is pregnant right before me. it wasn't quite the shock because she had just gone through it. the colleagues were so sweet the gifts would pour and how are you feeling are you tired yet? you look great. that is when you become really close friends with your women colleagues. >> and you receive any advice from them? >> no not really. i think as women we get we are often times barraged by advice we don't want and don't need. sometime we or more resident than to put onto another. [laughter] you've got together you don't need me a lot of love. >> what about blanche?
orcs of and i got to be good friends. [laughter] some tv show came into my house with her big imbalances that go through the house to have a smoke alarm? everybody would use this as an opportunity for tv. there is that mother's day right after susan was born. [laughter] was sitting on the lapis of the ages going to totally upstage mom for mother's day. was pregnant the same time i was. it was great. there's probably no easier job than being an congress when you're having a kid because nobody's going to tell you not to bring your child around. our babies were constantly with us. i went back to work right away but i had a crib in my room. if i had a movie and that baby was sleeping i would trade offices with my husband dried literally say i've got this in the baby sleeping kind is your
office? my life was really very easy i was very lucky. >> what was the media attention like during this? speech of the media attention not only to members married but i gave birth a day before mother's day. soon i had the entire media world looking for the mother's day hookah. give me something on mother's day i've got just the thing. [laughter] 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 woke up the next day and it was not pretty. with my father feeding my kid one throwing up in the bedpan in that world media outside ready to do an interview. but all good, all good. people should have such
problems in life. >> looks like a happy mother's day pray. >> it was a wonderful mother's day. get the interesting part the announcement is we have reels and reels and reels of television coverage, newspaper coverage, coverage around the world and then i have katy 7 pounds. [laughter] >> you've mentioned a few minutes ago you came back to work after only a couple weeks. did you ever talk about maternity leave with the leadership was that ever discussed? >> note first of all it didn't work for them i work for the people of staten island. i don't think it was an issue for me. these people were so wonderful if i missed votes because i was home with my child would not have been an issue at all. these are glorious family
people that would never come in. again i was given the gift of being able to come back to work and bond with my baby. i am a big proponent of family leave and maternity and paternity leave. i just did not have to make that decision. as i said the closets where you hang your coat and i got a piece of wood and i made a dressing table. i had a crib there. if susan couldn't sleep i would take her on the train back and forth it's a little ride but she loved it and emma go right to sleep. it did give me an opportunity
that got me started getting back into work. there are days when susan wasn't sick and you do what you have to do as a mother that was just never an issue. but again i went back early because i couldn't because of my extraordinary circumstances. >> besides her husband were there other members that would help you out a pinch of head of meat or go with someone? >> i do remember being on the house floor is one of those nights we are voting is back in the day, you would vote until sometimes 11:00 p.m. at night too. i had forgotten my card and i had to go to the well. susan was sleeping this is hard for some people to picture like tom can you hold her for just a minute? and he was great. but those of the things, right? there's nothing easier than making friends when you're holding a sweet little baby
particularly when they are asleep. [laughter] >> want to go to the next section? >> were going to shift gears and talk about women in congress. when jeannette rankin first served in congress there is a town of press attention paid to her dress, and her demeanor because she was a woman. we also read you made headlines because you wore pants during your first floor speech. what was the reaction to that and did it surprise you? >> totally surprised me. i have always been one of those people who feels more comfortable and pants. and so i was giving a one minute on the staten island homeport and the need to stay vigilant with the fence. i had nice black silk satin pants. they i wasn't wearing jeans. i remember, i remember to this
very day ahead of expensive black jacket it was one of my best outfits most expensive. in the "new york times" the kathy and regis show called i literally thought to myself, i guess we are making news because young female new york city it was somewhat controversial. then we started making the phone calls back it turns out i was the first female tour pants on the house of the floor of representatives. not against the dress rose to his story will have to research this, the best as i could determine there is not a set out dress code for females when they were doing those things because they didn't think there'd be any females on the house floor. but yes i made glamour magazine, i went on the kathy and regis show and it was all because i had pants on the floor for the first time.
>> this is all external your colleagues did not, question or. >> note not at all. i would be really surprised if they would have noticed. >> before we go too far ahead i want to give you a chance about the story you talked about off tape with the delegation you led to boston it when you were pregnant can you tell us about that? >> thank you. i got to be very close with bob dole during the former yugoslavia in crisis. during the time we had an arms embargo out against. what was happening they were still arms and going in and to the area but not to the croatians and others throughout the yugoslavian area. on so i had visited there once i had gone to croatia was really touched by what was going on there, very early
stages of the genocide that was taking place. i became more and more involved and was that person, i remember going to the vice president secretary eagle burger i went to whomever i could and literally my speech was i will not be that person, he always went others people in power during world war ii felt about their ability to have this near a ratification take place. and now we are watching genocide take place don't you have to hear it through a radio's on the front page of the papers on the news every night and we have to do something. if at least two end of the arms embargo so it can be a fair fight. i was bob dole's position to that toby got to be pretty close would pass resolutions and get engaged. i went in to note i guess were still not minority and said i am going crazy we have to do something about this.
he said join the crisis task force that's it okay and i did, which then you get called to go and of course i would do it because they wanted to raise consciousness susan. [inaudible] [laughter] which i just made up the day before producing good enough to get me too talk about an issue i care passionately about. i went and traveled there a bunch of times. i'm just never let up. there are awful things, that women's caucus would work very closely. there is a systematic that occurs in every word still happening places around the world. because of ethnic tensions the serbian initial soldiers would come into a village, tickled that younger women, put up with them in a house and systematically grape them until they got pregnant and keep them there until they could not get an abortion and then would let them go up or would not be welcome back by
their families because they were impregnated. i remember meeting one woman said she had to go to her daughter and her family and lie and say my sister is sick and were ever, even though bombs are going off where my kids are had to leave them because i knew my life would not be pretty there. once i had the baby i could go back. these groups to bring the women over to talk to us and we could understand how horrific the situation was over there without anybody doing anything. right when we are considering sending peacekeepers, newt had come to me said we're going to sell a congressional delegation over about 25 men and women i would like you to lead the delegation. i was about four months pregnant at the time. they sent a doctor on the plane with me. but still, i went over there. interesting time because i would be interviewed who is
very interested in this issue. it was clear i was pregnant. people are like how could she go to this area while you're pregnant? i did certainly enjoy the fact i got to go face-to-face as a female who is not going to take any of his crab. and i was pregnant and you knew this was this man's worst nightmare at. [laughter] warehouse a world gone wrong for me? [laughter] and at the end we were moving into sarajevo to meet with the president at the time. all these people were standing outside applauding us send it peacekeepers, send peacekeepers they want to say u.s. to come in and help and the situation. so as we were walking in there was a woman who grabbed my hand's and said please, please send do what you need to we cannot continue like this. you need to help us american
needs to help us purchase it that's it were here for were going to take as many facts as we can and bring it back. she grabbed my hand, touched my belly and said i just lost my only son, you are going to be a mama you have to help me. so i got some criticism for going. as someone who was about too have a baby but relative to the conversations we are having a think it increased my perspective for what needed to be done. sorry about that. >> it is fine. >> how influential was that for that colleagues who went with you questioner. >> it was extremely influential. it was bipartisan and i think just the ability to give information we are talking to the world leaders.
were talking to our people in the state department and to be able to let them know without the situation was ripe. we were still living with this concept these people have been at war with each other for so long they will never learn to get along. i actual remember saying it not to keep bringing up the mother fight but i can't believe there is a mother who loves her child less than they hate their neighbor. nobody wants us to continue. we were able to be on the ground and see that. we could end this war and it would and. on so i think it was very influential. coming back at that point we started working very closely with vice president gore and secretary holbrook because they didn't want 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 with you? >> i'm sure there was but i cannot tell you. >> it's a pretty large group. >> it was a large group or think we wanted as many people to meet, go back to be part of the debate because it was a serious step we were taking. >> how important do you think those delegations work just to try to see a different side of members and try to get to know each other? >> there is no doubt. i never went on any of the glamorous. i went to the persian gulf war, went to israel, there is action that is where i wanted to be. i did not do any of those air show travel. there something to be said again to the conversation of the people getting to know one another outside the floor being able to spend time together. you then travel as americans
us member as the u.s. congress it's not republicans and democrats. it does make it a lot easier to collaborate once you get back that personal time. i also think when members had their families here. when our wives, husbands, friends, kids go to the same schools that makes it a little harder for me too demonize you on a debate on the floor. i remember being at church a couple years ago when i was still doing some punditry, it was christmas eve or june the our father and i looked over it was a robert gibbs. [laughter] no more picking on robert. you have those moments when you're on the trip there times when you all cried together, you have have a real serious conversation about where you're going to be sending the u.s. troops.
those are things that allow you to come back and trust each other with the debate. again if i'm having that moment with you overseas or in a war zone, i'm going to disagree with you but i'm going to 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 have a tendency to brag they did not have a passport. i think when you are elected to the u.s. house of representatives of war the united states senate we do call the president the leader of the free world. it's nice to get to know places outside the united states in order to make appropriate decisions. >> matches some wrap up questions, because when you serve the relatively so few members of congress at that
time. did you feel you didn't only represent your constituents but she 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 don't say pressure because i enjoyed it, i felt very strongly about the need to get out there and be seen on tv, on issues that i felt were important. again it is twofold. we all bring our experiences to a discussion and they are all different experiences. i did take very seriously the experience of being a female tent bringing that to the discussion. i was not one of those people sometimes she would go up to somebody and say did that i am not going to be the fema legislature. and i totally respect that but that was not me. i was going to be the fema legislator. if there is something going on i was talking about it. in any fight i was going to be
the female, i took that very seriously there is a reason i was there. so i worked on behalf of my constituents and work on behalf of the issues i was concerned about, bouncing the budget but women were right up there. not the least of which was so 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 chance. it might not of been they decided to run for office but they decide to take a chance i think that's really important. >> you touched on the logit in that regard as clinical scientist called surrogate representative it was there one moment that sticks out in your mind as a boy, this issue him speaking as a national representative? >> so interestingly, during the crime bill president
clinton i voted against the rule because it was a closed rule. even though i was for the gun control that was in there and it meant a lot of money for next city mayor juliano and the police force were all for it but the opposing party presents a rule that does not allow your party to present any amendment i felt obliged to vote against the rule which killed the bill at the time. so new at the time brought five of us together who wanted to support the bill and wanted to negotiate some amendments. mine was prior evidence. the basis of it was something we are living through right now bill cosby, the case of rape and child molestation works one word against the other, if there are so many similarities as there often times are the judge would
decide it's more probative than prejudicial to bring these instances in. all these cases and man is on trial for rape and you could prove there had been allegations or even convictions or of a rape that occurred women same height, blonde hair, wearing tennis shoes whatever it is there is a pattern there. and the guy would get convicted and it would always be overturned. that came my thing in the crime bill. so i had to negotiate with the bunch of people on that. including vice president biden whom i absolutely adore because, for many reasons. one of the reasons was when we had this negotiation had to negotiate with 20 people before they brought him in as head of the judiciary. you could tell they wanted nothing to do with me. first but we're still the
minority. here is that young female yang the majority's chain over the sick president's signature piece and then they brought in joe biden. he was tough, he was fair, he treated me like an equal. i love him for so many reasons, so many reasons i think he is a gift to this country but on a personal level and by the way a psalm in croatia during the war went on anyone else cared. as the piece of legislation that eventually passed those part of the presidents crime bill were able to bring over 65 to 62 bring over and support the crime bill for five amendments. some major issues that affected women, sometimes you in the republican party not all of your republican colleagues supported as well. what did you do to try to build support for violence against women in the family medical leave act?
>> if i thought 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 this was something philosophically was not going to happen i would work with members to discuss it in a way that is not offputting. 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 was not the case to get them to speak more graciously about their disagreements. >> for the often receptive to that? >> yes i think they work. again, most people here are here for the right reasons and
are just bringing their feelings to the table. i remember one time i will not name the individual one of the nicest, sweetest timely is a gentleman who was old by the time i was there. he yelled at the floor to become one of the most gracious individuals who did not have a bias bone in his body but he yielded the floor to the little lady from new york. they say changes words. [laughter] [inaudible] you have to sometimes interpret where it's coming from or if it was a 30-year-old member that did it, it would be taken and a much different way than somebody who would always been a really kind and overly fair that was his weight. i guess everything in life you have to look at the purpose not just the topic at hand.
>> in the late spring of 1997 you surprised a lot of observers by finger stepping down and going to retire and change careers. why did you decide to leave congress? >> for a couple reasons. primarily if i've not talked to my father enough during this interview, my father took this job's a 24/7 job. my dad was the kind if he was done with dinner and nothing else was going on he would go through the phone book. he'd call in how are things going? he lived and breathed this. this is all you did. i was a baby, i love this job but it's two jobs. old don't cry for me argentina but when that media says congress is back on vacation, they're not there back in their district and what they are supposed to do. again i loved it. if you want me too be your
kid's eagle scout award, if you meet throughout the first baseball at little league baseball 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. and so i would do that, friends would come over and take care of my daughter. she had no idea she was having a great time but i missed her. then i would be with her and i felt guilty for not being at your kids eagle scout award. and 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 pent work three days a week to keep your hand and it does not really, it seemed like a good opportunity. i feel so strongly the need to say that was a decision i made were i was in my life. i haven't had friends who raise their kid their kids are great their great parents.
i hate the tutorial of the better mom it was just what was right for me at the time. until that is why i decided to leave. >> i want to ask you a legislation question, a broad one. in all of your time in congress and the '90s, what do you think was the most important piece of legislation passed in a direct impact on women? >> i have to think about that one. going back to the '90s. i think certainly happen before, right the violence against women act. i don't know if young people can appreciate the fact that i served on mayor giuliani's commission of women, i chaired that. it was at that time mid 80s
that we were actually dealing with the fact there were mandatory arrests. a member of the discussions on domestic bouncing something like this. it's a family matter, you go to the door the cops are usually to the gentleman, buddy take a walk around cool down. you want to press charges? even if the woman was clearly clearly incapacitated and they knew she was scared if she said no, done, and of bill close the book. to think where we've got today as a society, our members cheering guided hearings in each borough. even my dad hearing female victims being shocked by what they had to go through. it was that family secret. then all of a sudden it became political. people wanted to cosponsor the violence against women's act. people wanted to vote for they want just talk about domestic
violence as a political issue. that's what needs to be done right now were working under age trafficking announced become an issue that's been political. it's a major piece of legislation was under age trafficking that passed the house and senate republicans and democrats. i think the violence against women was one of those it gives an opportunity to talk about it to to give voice to those people who for so long felt that absolutely no voice. brought it out of the closet and made it political per that's how we make changes. i bear no apology sitting make something political so you make changes that are democracy. what people want to discuss it and have town halls on it that's what you'll see the societal shift. the whole issue of violence against women, buddy take a
walk around the block, protective orders, society's response of the helplessness have kids, don't have kids but elevating that conversation every time it had to be reauthorized was a really important moment and that's why i was here. >> we have asked you a lot of questions about the past never going to ask you to look in the crystal ball and prognosticate. 108 women in congress 88 in the house, 20 in the senate. looking out 50 years from now for fear from jeannette rankin's, how many women do you think will be in congress? and how will we get to that point? >> first about more women need to run.
that is such a big portion of the problem. i know it looks dirty and main and it is. but anything that gives you an opportunity to big to be in such a life changing position is not going to be easy. i think we've gotten to a place where i was allowed because of my lineage to be able to run there's little bit of an apology she's a daughter we can do this i member my husband was running the national publican can make this hard to look for females. not will let this one on that got the right lineage, they can raise the money that got the right background for if you have two candidates being equal the female would be the one the party wanted to go after. we are seeing change. fifty years from now, i hope
women are in the majority as they are in this country is there on the electric. they want the united states congress to represent the united states who gotta step up. >> one of your daughters told you they wanted to run for congress what would you say what advice would you offer? >> oddly enough in our grandfather mother and father in congress it has come up from time to time. i would certainly encourage it. it is not the easiest route is not easy to put yourself out there. but boy, the benefits. here talking to me and allowing me too be 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 the presidents of the united states and
united states senators and leaders from around the world, generals, i look back on my life the first persian gulf war i said when i walked into the studio at the last time i was in the studio taping as chauffeur michael sean staten island were brought in all these human shields who saddam hussein used to keep him safe during the first gulf war, to be able to look back on and being able to unite with some of my sisters like sandy hook and aberdeen to fight about funding, domestic violence, or breast cancer may be doing the little part to bring peace to the former yugoslavia. where else could you sit back and say the glory days were pretty good that's not to say i don't love my job at google right now. it is a heady experience. and if my daughters want to do it you have to be tough it is
not an easy path but the payout is unbelievable. i would support them one 100%. not pushing them in that direction by any means. [laughter] >> looking back on your house career was anything unexpected to it for that surprised you about it? >> no. i think if there was anything that surprised me, i know this sounds ridiculous is how easy it was. if you wanted to get something done it didn't always happen, but you are gifted with incredible staff, brilliant people surrounding you. the thing that surprises most people and they come here as this nation is really run by people under 30 smart people, passionate people, and if you have a cause you really want
to pursue and are going to be dogged you can usually get it done. think of sort of a surprise for me. and it was not a surprise for a particular event how bipartisan it was. my dad was so bipartisan. i remember when i wonder walking into the fox studio and he said here's a guy you're going to work with is a good guy he's going to help you and it was chuck schumer. and he was right. her both new yorkers. her times we battle but times as a delegation you would not unite and certainly if you are from new york city you had to fight a significant portion of the rest united states congress republicans or democrats. [laughter] >> we've asked you a lot of questions thank you. >> i hope is okay. >> i won final questions what
you think your lasting legacy will be, you're some know what you think they'll say? >> oh my. i don't think they will remember i was there for such a short period of time i was 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 would be she could work across the aisle and she could work with people whom she disagreed but respected. i always felt really proud to be part of this institution. >> sounds like a great legacy. >> thank you