Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hillary gets major honors from Planned Parenthood and Kay Bailey Hutchinson in Texas

Also on Friday, Hillary Clinton and Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican senior Senator from Texas, offered life lessons to young women and discussed their own successes, defeats and frailties at The Women's Museum. The event was called "Stories From the Top: Their Odyssey."

It attracted more than 400 people, mostly women, who paid $175 a ticket to see their role models and those in attendance were not disappointed.

It was reported that Clinton and Hutchison spoke to each other like close sisters, rather than political adversaries who share almost nothing in common.

There was a lot of light-hearted moments and a lot of laughter. Such as when Hillary first took the stage. She said:

"Well, Gloria, thank you so much. I thought when you were saying what we had in common; you were going to say that as someone in the public eye, your hairstyles get more comments than nearly anything else about your work!"
She referenced her last minute change of plans for the day:
"I was in Mexico for two days and I had thought I could come here to Dallas directly from Mexico, but the President had other ideas in mind, and I was in the White House this morning as the President announced our new strategy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan... I was a little worried about whether it would work out, as some of you know. And I was particularly concerned about facing my friend and former colleague, Kay, because she and I have been planning to do this for many months, and I was really upset about Matrice, because I had talked to Ron Kirk about three days ago and he said, “I’ll see you in Dallas.” I said, “Well, I don’t know, I think they’re going to do the Afghanistan-Pakistan rollout.” He goes, “Oh, that’s not good, not good.” That’s why he’ll be an excellent USTR negotiator.
She talked about her early ambitions before getting interested in politics:
"I wanted to be a baseball player. I wanted to be a journalist. I know you’ll never believe that. But the most searing experience of what I wanted to be was when I was inspired by President Kennedy and our space program, and they created NASA and they were recruiting astronauts. And I don’t know, I think I was thirteen or so, and so I wrote to NASA to ask how I could become an astronaut. And I got a response back which was, “We’re not interested in women astronauts.”

So, I took particular pleasure many, many years later when Sally Ride went into space. And I have followed the women astronauts ever since. Now, the fact is, like being a baseball player, it was a totally ridiculous ambition. I mean, I was disqualified on so many counts. But those were some of the things that I thought about in those early years."

The highlight of the 55-minute conversation may have been when Hutchison interrupted Clinton to weigh in on the former New York senator's historic but unsuccessful presidential campaign last year. She said:

"The most incredible thing I saw in you during this period was your ability to keep a happy face, a confident face, when you were getting so many disappointments. You were completely devastated and you never let it show on your face. That character is why you are secretary of state today."
Clinton smiled as her eyes began to water and the audience then gave her a major ovation.

News anchor Gloria Campos was the moderator of the program, and asked both women about their "a-ha moments" that shaped their outlooks.

"I had an a-ha moment that I wasn't going to be the Democratic nominee for the president of the United States," Clinton said. "That was a different kind of a-ha moment."

"You have to decide whether you're going to give up or soldier on," Clinton said about overcoming adversity.

Hutchison said that as a young woman, she had to get past self-doubt. She said preparation and experience is important in reaching goals. "Girls, especially, have been afflicted with this," she said. "With experience, I have learned that I absolutely can do anything."

Clinton said her job – and Hutchison's rise as well – often made them loners:"It is somewhat lonely and isolating to have to think about what we're facing, but it's also a privilege to do it with our states and countries."

Hillary spoke only briefly about foreign policy, telling the crowd she spent the morning with the president rolling out the administration's goals for Afghanistan.

Read the entire transcript of the event here. Watch a video clip here.

Immediately after this event, Hillary was on her way to Houston, Texas where she received Planned Parenthood's highest honor -- the 2009 Margaret Sanger Award.

A short video was played before her speech. It highlighted some of her work in support of women's reproductive and health rights, including: the 1995 speech during the U.N. Conference on Women in Beijing in which she criticized China for the practice of sterilization and forced abortion and for preventing many women from attending or participating fully in the conference and for her efforts in 2006, when she was a U.S. senator from New York, to block the confirmation of then President Bush's nominee for Food and Drug Administration commissioner until the FDA approved over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill.

During her speech she said:

"A society that denies and demeans women's rights and roles is a society that is more likely to engage in behavior that is negative, anti-democratic and leads to violence and extremism... Women’s empowerment is always, always about more than bettering the lives of individual women. It is part of a movement. It’s about economic and political progress for all women and girls. It’s about making sure that every woman and girl everywhere has the opportunities that she deserves to fulfill her potential, a potential as a mother, as a worker, as a human being.

Read the full transcript of Hillary's Remarks at the event here.

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