© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Hillary Clinton's Political Acumen And Other Tidbits From New Docs

Newly released documents by the Clinton Presidential Library shed light on Hillary Clinton's time as first lady.
Mark Wilson
Associated Press

Did we learn anything new about Hillary Clinton from the documents released Friday by the Clinton Presidential Library? Was there anything that could matter if she decides to run for president?

The answer so far appears to be no. That said, there were still aspects of the documents that were singled out as interesting flashbacks to Clinton's time as first lady.

Against Individual Mandate Before She Was For It

In September 1993, Clinton explained to congressional Democratic leaders why she ruled out an individual mandate for her ill-fated health-insurance overhaul, and why she thought the GOP was making a mistake by including it in its proposal.

According to a transcript of her comments at the meeting, she said: "If the Republican alternative, as it appears now to be shaping up, at least among the moderate Republicans in the Senate, is an individual mandate, we have looked at that in every way we know how to. That is politically and substantively a much harder sell than the one we've got — a much harder sell." Clinton had warmed to the individual mandate by her 2008 presidential campaign.

A Reminder On Shaping Her Message

When she was running for U.S. Senate in New York, Clinton she had to be reminded by Mandy Grunwald, a friend and media strategist, to go beyond tightly focused answers to questions from reporters or voters. Instead, Grunwald urged her to use questions as springboards for delivering the Clinton message.

"You have a tendency to answer just the question asked," Grunwald wrote in a memo. "That's good manners, but bad politics. Take every opportunity you can to shift your response to an area you want to talk about and then be really expansive on that part of the answer."

It may not have been so much "good manners" on Clinton's part as her legal training and natural caution that were on display.

A Shrewd Eye On Political Details

It would take a graphologist to explain what her handwriting reveals about her character. But her edits to a script for videotaped remarks to a May 1996 microenterprise conference are nonetheless interesting because of what they reveal about her political judgment.

There's a part of the script where she strikes out a large downbeat passage written presumably by a speechwriter who wrote in surprisingly negative terms about globalization. The original script after Clinton's strikethroughs looked like this: microenterprise a key element of providing economic opportunity for women and men everywhere in the world."

Showing her awareness of re-election year politics in which the Clintons counted on organized labor to help them defeat Republican nominee Bob Dole, Clinton changed all of that to read: "In today's global economy, microenterprise development needs to become a key element, providing economic opportunity for women and men everywhere in the world."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.