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tv   Oral Histories Women in Congress - Susan Molinari Interview  CSPAN  October 14, 2021 9:29am-11:16am EDT

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for the weekend on your program guide or at c-span.g/history. susan molinari served in the u.s. house of representative from 1990 through 1997 as a republican from new york. coming up next, the daughter of congressman guy molinari talks about her political career. the u.s. house of representatives office of the historian conducted this interview. 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
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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.
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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
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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
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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.
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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. : : : you grow up in my family and you
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go to a republican convention. they would say, guy -- who will nominate guy molinari for the new york state assembly? he would say, my daughter. i learned to speak publically. because i was always active in his campaigns, people came to me and asked me from a young age to consider running for office. when this position opened up for the new york city counsel, i had been working in washington, d.c., it would give me a chance to go back. it would give me some good exposure to figure out what i wanted to do next. get to know the right people in new york for a job in public relations. once you go out there and once you start to meet the people and once you start to shake hands and hear about their concerns and figure out you can do this
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and fix their problems, you become so convinced that you have to win. i ran for the new york city counsel when my dad decided to run for borough president. my mother was diagnosed not that long before that with a muscle disease. it was wearing on my dad to be away from home. this fit the right thing. so he ran for borough president and won, which left open his congressional seat. this was just a dream come true for me after watching him and following him and following the discussions and the debates, to have an opportunity to serve in the united states house of representatives was about the highest honor i could think of. d 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
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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
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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.
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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.
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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
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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
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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].
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>> 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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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to each other pretty. >> yes and i still do. leader pelosi i consider her a dear friend and much to be said friend. there is much to be said about the conversation that takes place about women being able to cross party lines and make things happen. i had always worked with rita lowey on the violence against he women income i of course i worked with my male colleagues too. when there were times it didn't look like things were going to move, we would have that wees had a woman's caucus wheree would mean. congresswoman schroeder really kept us together on those issues. we disagreed on certain things,a but i think we all agreed on the understanding and the respect.
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>> what was the atmosphere like for you when you entered the house? do you think it was a welcome atmosphere for women? >> yes. here's 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 d equal, they learned to pretend, right?ni discrimination, all those things that were happening to and still happened to women all over get a little veiled over here in the united states congress. and the real truth is the rest of the country responds in kind. there were ceos and other people who might have, under certain circumstances, had some issues with women in power, but because you were a woman in power, they would not treat you as such. so quite frankly, i never really felt discriminated against as a female until i left politics. a
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>> were there any parts of the institution that were maybe a little more difficult to get into or to somehow fit into, and if so, why do you think that was the case?we >> i think it was just a slower change.. again, i think both political parties and the people who weree institutionalists really recognized by the time i got there that more women diversity in the united states congress was a good thing for this country. honestly, i was welcomed. i was able to move very quickly in the republican party because i was a i remember being called out to be part of a press conference on a crime bill.e i ran for vice chair of the e republican conference, and even though i was a moderate from new york city, i think one of the reasons i did win was that thert was a recognition that they needed women in leadership and t moderate. so i did enter this institution
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at a time when diversity was not present but was recognized as a necessity and a good political thing to have. and i benefited from that as opposed to being hampered by it. >> did you have any members, female or male, who served as an mentor to you during your first term in congress? >> you know, everybody kind of pitched in. i really can't pick one or the other. again, ileana ross layton, latee on deborah price. we all became good friends and we'd spend more time together. sometimes you had a group that would consist of those two women, dana rorbacher, my now husband, bill paxton, because of the age. we would do things and spend time together. c c jerry ferrara talked me into running for office and then campaigned against me.
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so i never felt -- i always felt that women would be there. nancy pelosi, we do what we can. did it help politically? there was a line that was drawn but there were those relationships i will always cherish. then when you get married and have a baby, those words of ot advice from women who have been there were really very comforting and very helpful. and i think we stood each other up. i remember being -- i think i was getting an award at the glamour women of the year awards. pat schroeder was there as a former and connie as a former. it was either taylor hook or aberdeen. we met in the lobby, we happened to be going out at the same time and we said, did you hear this n story that's breaking? pat, being on the armed services committee, organized a meeting shortly thereafter. it must have been aberdeen
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because i had susan at the time, and was able to organize this meeting where, you know, the generals had to come in and answer some questions about what was going on and how they were monitoring it.or i think it was -- there were those issues, right, that just sort of allowed ussh to stand eh other up and say, we are going challenge the way things are being done. sure, i learned a lot from congresswoman schroeder. she's great, she's tough, she's smart, but i think we all stood each other up at those moments eir and say, this isn't just for us. then once you have a baby girl, all bets are out. you are so determined to change this world for her. >> how important do you think it was for you and other women members to have a separate space in the capital, what's now the lindy boggs? >> i think it's important. it was nice to just have those areas to go to when you had a
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headache, when you wanted to read something. maybe when you wanted to seek out some colleagues to have a discussion about a decision that you had made or a question that you had and you wanted sort of that sacred space in order to have that conversation. i think it's helpful. >> were there any other places that you would go to meet, either formally or informally?ro >> every once in a while, we would get a group probably not very much bipartisan but we ut would get all the republican women together, go out to dinner and just kind of hang out. kaye bailey hutchison, senator hutchinson from texas threw me a party when i got engaged. you just do a little bit more of that stuff together. >> you mentioned the women's caucus earlier.. we're just wondering if we can get you to elaborate a little bit on your memories of the women's caucus. just basic.
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when did it meet? where did it meet? how would you describe the early leadership? >> we would meet in the lindy ou boggs room off statuary hall. it was a small group then so wed all fit. we would talk about some of those issues -- an example is i remember there was an issue nd surrounding the efficacy of breast implants. and one of our female members had breast cancer and was talking about reconstruction, and the fda commissioner at the time we felt was a bit cavalier in not understanding the discussion that was taking place, as opposed to just being cosmetic. and we all kind of rallied around this one member to say, okay, how do we help? how do we expand this conversation? when there were some wou disagreements over the violence against women act, we would need to say, here's how we're going to handle this. we're going to move this through and we're going to try to do these things. you guys have to stand down and
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not call us for a few days. we would have those sorts of conversations that would allow us to actually acknowledge the difficulties at any given time of our political parties and m where we agreed to disagree, those conversations did not comm up. >> a major issue that certainly has come up through women's history is reproductive rights. how did you and other members of the caucus handle that issue?? >> you know, i mean -- it would come up -- it didn't come up asa much as it comes up now. it would come up -- mexico city, some of these other issues, women in the military on armed services, and again, i think it was more just making certain that the conversation from both political parties recognized d
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that we were speaking to the american people. with all disagreements and hoping to keep a level of dignity to the discussions. and i think that was probably the biggest role that women xp played on both sides. >> did you ever think that issue or issues undermines the effectiveness of the caucus? you talked about the importance of the bipartisanship between the two. >> no. we're all different people. we were different agents that came from different political parties, different philosophies within those political parties, geographic spectrums, so there would be issues upon which we ue would certainly disagree. but even on an issue like e abortion or reproductive rights, i think we recognized that women needed to really be a part of that conversation as opposed to just being the people who
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listened to the conversation or led, you know, the end of that debate who had to deal with the impacts of those debates.. so i think more than trying to w change one another's positions on these issues, what we did was respect and celebrate the fact p that there were women who were a part of this 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 it set me aside. l for purposes i was extremely pro-choice then, i'm pro-life now. but in some ways it very much hampered me because a very conservative wing of the party. not my colleagues but the peopli who would make money off of fundraising really targeted me, and when i ran for vice chair, went all out to campaign againso me, just whatever caricature
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they could plan. but at the same time i think it also made me a fighter and made me -- i was just forced to be tougher. you know, that's sort of the secret.. at least, it was back then. we were constantly being underestimated as females. sometimes being underestimated is a good thing because you can always add to the element of e surprise. i remember a lot of my debates were where the people i was debating didn't take me seriously until i got out 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, the women's caucus in kind of broader terms. what role do you think it's played in the institution, and was it significant? has it changed over time? >> you know, it was very
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significant for me to be able us to, again -- and sometimes it wasn't just those meetings, what happened in those meetings. but the relationships that developed as a result of those meetings. right? 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 greaty things happening in life. you know, your daughter a expecting, whatever it is. it allows you to communicate on a much more honest and productive level, right? you can't demonize somebody who you know is a full person with all their faults and strengths and heartbreaks and celebrations. so i think more than anything, just taking, you know, the 435 a and bringing all, at the end, 31 of us together gave us an re opportunity to get to know each
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other on a little more personali level which made it easier to j ask for advice, ask for a favor, ask for floor time, pick something. it just made it a little more comfortable being a member of congress. >> a place to meet that was somewhat away from the political sphere. >> exactly. it was a place removed from thet political sphere.e although obviously politics wasa discussed but on a way different level than you would when you're down on a house floor. d >> when you had an issue that the majority of the caucus really did rally around, did you feel that the rest of the e membership viewed the caucus as a group -- a force to be reckoned with? >> there's no doubt. there's no doubt. the men would joke about it if they saw, like, six women together and think, oh, here comes trouble.he but you knew they were a little nervous. there was no doubt about the fact if the women's caucus camei out on something that it was something that was going to have an impact. we could all agree if we could
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all unite, we were going to make it happen.ittl >> we're going to shift gears a little bit and talk about your committee we're curious to know how you obtained the initial assignments on small business public works and transportation. also, did you get any advice in terms of committee assignments? >> particularly back in those days, you know, when you're a w freshman, you didn't really have a lot to say. and you weren't going to go for the big committee assignments. it just wasn't happening then. it's sincert changed, largely thanks to my husband. my dad was a transportation guy, i'm a transportation gal. i loved transportation. so that was something that i really wanted and asked for. and then i did get on education and labor and had -- you know, that was very interesting. i had a great time with that.. and then eventually transitioned off education and labor.d john kasich asked me to go in n budget when he took over as
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chairman of the budget committee. that became a whole other ride. but we balanced the budget for the first time in a generation, so there was some great historye that was happening there.. i digress into a female story. i was on education and labor, he and we were debating family and medical leave. i was one of the proponents of it in the republican party. g and i remember john boehner at o the time who served on it was eloquently waxing on how governments should not be e telling businesses what to do and that this was up to the boards and the chairman of the boards and they should be able to make their own policies. and he should be able to -- and. so he just went on. i responded and i said, i totally agree with you that in a perfect world that the boards ou and the businesses should be able to make their own but just based on your own discussion where you consistently refer to the people
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in power as "he," i think until then we have to help out a bit. and good for boehner because he did not get mad at me. he took it in the spirit in which it was intended. but that was one of those moments when you said, i'm not sure anybody -- i'm not sure any other man on this day is hearing what i'm hearing. >> 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. it's important to have a hispanic perspective. we all bring that to the table, right, and to not have that background, that experience, that specialness, that uniqueness to any debate, we lose something as a country. so the more diverse our legislatures become, the bettere it will be. because you hear things
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differently, you see things differently, you reflect on them differently, you represent differently.or and so things are changing. they need to change more rapidly, but i do think the debate becomes better and the decisions become fairer as many people representing people come to the table. good lord, we're talking about women being 51% of the population.for we should be doing a show about men, right? it's kind of crazy that we're the majority electorate and we're still considered representatives of a minority. >> when you served in the 1990s, that's really not that long ago historically, and quite often you were one of the few women on these committees.ei so what was theor welcome or reaction that you received in the committee. >> it was fine. again,n, look, overwhelming majorityor of the people who ar here arele good people and are here for the right reasons.
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and so, you know, particularly back then there was this sort of collegial level of respect. and again i think there was almost, you know, did get a kick out of me because i wasn't afraid to debate and get a little tough when necessary. so there was -- i never felt any resentment whatsoever for being the only female of the committee. the example i i just gave with john boehner is just one example of where it wasle a time in whi it was considered a challenge. a challenge that we all took up and one that was pretty much accepted and taken well by our male colleagues. >> we also read in your book. the appropriations committee,
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can you tell the story how to get onn and how that worked. >> appropriations was the committee you could get a lot done for your district and bring a lot of projects and infrastructure. and if you combine rea my inter in transportation and representing new york city. it was something they really wanted to do. but i was up against another new yorker o for the position. who was much more conservative than i. and as i found out in the debates about who was going to get this position, it was because i was moderate, pro-choice, couldn't get on appropriations. >> when thehe republicans took control of the chamber in 1995, you had the opportunity to chair a sub committee on the transportation y.committee. what was that experience>> like? and how wouldop you describe yo leadership style? >> oh, i loved it. i was given the opportunity to chair the railroad subcommittee. and that'ss, -- again one of things i loved about the transportation committee is you were -- so much of what you do
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in congress are really important conversations about changing human behavior. right? if you are having a conversation 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 asf if we put money in infrastructure the trains will run better. so i just sort of loved that aspect of dealing with transportation and what's more american in terms of investment and creation than the railroads? i loved being that, i loved working with the rail idceos. f they are a tough group of risk takers and i really enjoyed that as a challenge. the only thing i didchy thought was interesting compared to other people is the way i would do my hearings is.
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we would have people. you know you would always have -- let's say we're doing something onik reforms. on short rails. so people would travel from all overhe the united states to testify. and the way things were supposed to be done in congress is head of dot would testify first. the rooms would be packed and then halfho the people would lee and cameras. and by the time people got to testify, the bell would ring. 27 people would leave to go vote. they would be testifying before me and one other person. and i just would feel so awful. so whoever came the furthest and had put the most effort in testified first. so the federal rail administrator of the secretary of ridot had to hear them and i thought that was really important but it just constantly frustratedng my friends in the federal governmentha that i wast whipping them in and whipping them out. you are doing your job when you
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are sitting here testifying. they are not. so that was a little structural change i i made there. >> wast there any one particula issue before the subcommittee you remember from that time. >> well certainly with all the time and it just goes to show you how slow the wheel change, turn here. amtrackpu performed 76 amtrack reform. at the time when i got in, when i chaired it, i was dealing way group of republicans who wanted to defund amtrak. amtrak was and still is an operation that loses money. and so i was trying to negotiate t aal which would allow us to reform amtrak. right now so much is statutory and even routes are written in. i remember actually testifying before the rules committee, how do we build this, basically gave power to the people of amtrak to
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make your decisions? a i remember some old gentleman said, well, but -- so if i vote for this, will i still have my routes through my district? i said, with all due respect, congressman -- this was a republican. with all due respect, congressman, what i'm trying to do is take us out of it and for the people who deal with it make those decisions. he said, so that could go away? and i was like theoretically if you -- and he goes, shit, i'm not voting for this. i kind of knew, anyway, but an important discussion to take place in terms of some of the things that govern our nationalv rail system that make it is impossible to not lose a boatload of money. that was something i was really interested in and learned a lot. aviation safety was something am that was a big issue for my dad, and of course coming from the district that i came from with i traycon, overn the ocean flight coming from kennedy was something that i became interested in and then of course all the issues on rail safety
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and other things that came down the pike. >> do you want to break here? >> that would be a good point. want to take a two-minute break? >> sure. s >> we're back. we want to shift gears and move on to leadership.ha we're just curious, what was behind your decision to run for leadership after the 1994 elections? >> oh, well i think part of it was my own personal but also, you know, feeling that, i thought that there needed to be a woman in leadership. and att that point, it was so interesting, right? because barbara voconivich ran s also, and there was this general perception that only one of us could win. because there would only be room for one female even though the rest of the leadership was male. and a tribute to our colleagues, both of us won. there really was in -- i remember -- i think i came up or first and once i won, the man
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that was running against barbart we thought, shoo-in. only room for one here. i hadn't thought of that in so long. s part of it was i think it's good for the party, i think it's great to have additional voices and, you know, dissent and discussion was not only tolerated, it was welcomed. the republican party felt it was kind of important to have people out there who had disagreements. again, you don't ever get into the motives of why people disagree with you, but understanding the big 10. and so the people who nominated me were very conservative from rural areas, again, to show the importance of bringing as many people into the tent as possible in order to have a majority and a successful working majority. those were all the thoughts ou behind that. a >> you said part of it was your ambition, but also were you t recruited by anybody and why did you select the vice chair position to run after?>>
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>> there were people who came up to me and said, you know, u you should do this, we need a woman, we need somebody who's comfortable speaking, disagreeing, you know, all those things. c so i thought about it and decided i was going to give it a shot. i very much lived my life that i'd much rather live with mistakes than live with regret. this was just that moment of, hey, you should run for the new york city council. and i thought, i'm kind of scared of that so i guess i have to do it. i'm kind of scared of leadership and i could lose, so i guess i have to do this. >> not much is written about leadership races. y it is really kind of an inside baseball sort of thing. so can you just describe a little bit what your campaign and what that was like? >> it was more just contacting people and asking for -- look, you don't get anywhere in life without asking people to help you, and certainly as an elected official. what is the one thing that you have to learn?
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my campaign is driven by hundreds of people ringing doorbells and writing checks and talking to theirre friends and they get -- and y i get the job. they get the satisfaction of being on a winning team. those are the kinds of things that you do.em everybody likes to be asked. you f try to have meetings withs many people as possible. i doe remember i was running against a great guy from florida named cliff sterns, and i had people coming up to me and saying, i would love to vote for you but cliff and i have become such good friends at the gym. hmm, the gym i'm not allowed into? back in the day we had our separate gyms. so there was that little, you know -- i don't necessarily need to work out with a bunch of sweaty men. but that was one of those occasions where you interact with not necessarily members ofs congress but people who are trying to lose weight or just a relationship in another area. now, of course they do exercise together. asasat scandalous as that sound. i wasn't allowed
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to be in the house gym. and i had to overcome that from a r relationship standpoint. just another difference. >> did anyone run your campaign? or was someone very active in candidacy?ush your >> my husband was very helpful. i surround myself with strong political people. one happened to be my father, one happened to be my but, you know, in general everybody was pretty helpful. >> at the time you were the highest ranking woman in gop leadership. >> yes. >> what did that mean to you t personally? and then also from a larger perspective, what did it mean to the party? >> to me personally, it was -- what a great, incredible honor a to be that part of history to be able to -- and i know this sounds soit schmaltsy, right, b
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it's really cool when somebody who i think is close to my age comes up to me and says i remember watching you when i was growing up. that's when i decided to go into politics. you know -- ebut, you know, there's that. right? there's that. you need the person who looks a little like you to inspire you, give you confidence, give you the idea that you can. ironically, a conversation we're having in technology right now, and still a need in politics, lord knows. that was part of it. part of it was i'm going to make sure that young girls growing up can see somebody that they say, you know, that could be me. she's not that different from me. >> and for party? >> i think that's important for any movement. any movement that wants to attract people to the movement need to make sure that they aree represented by people who can connect with people. i think that's probably one of the reasons why i won. a
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again, those were the days of big tent and trying to get as many different faces as possible out there representing the party, speaking on behalf ofut the party, disagreeing with the party. >> earlier we asked the importance of having women on different what about in leadership, what do you think the importance of that is? >> directing an part of what happens at leadership is you sit around the leadership tablewa when the agea iss being formed. and so again, i can remember there was an appropriations bill that was coming up that was to deny -- i think this was it, to deny s single people from adopting. and so i would have toe come to the leadership table and say, really? are we the party that's going to say a single parent cannot parent well? s which of course got all these -- it was great because there were men around the table who had
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been raised by single mothers. and so they were immediately on my side. that was something that i -- you know, i think i was -- i had to bring it to their attention, then they reacted the appropriate way.lele but you know, that's just one example of being able to sit at a table you where can have thate conversation and enforce change the breast cancer stamp bill which i think is still active, a you know, was actually a ca creation of dick fazio's, his constituents. he came to me. in the republican leadership, i was -- he was the sponsor, i was the co-sponsor, then we flipped. and i had gone and said, you know, we should be supporting this. this is everything we agree on. it's not mandated, it's voluntary. the stamps could go up to eight cents more, and it could go to dod for a lot of military s personnel for tracking. and we reach an audience we had trouble connecting with. great. great. the post office disagreed and
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said, well, the post office doet want changes. he said, okay, fine. you go back and tell fazio that the molinari-fazio bill will not be introduced. i cannot do that. it's his bill. he said, he's enough of a pal, he will understand. i went and said, your call, i'mu horrified i have to have this conversation. newt says he'll bring it up on suspension which means you don't have to go through hearings and everything. you just move it along. we have to make the changes the post office recommends, and it will be introduced the molinari-fazio bill. i remember he came down the steps and somebody said, hey, an what's going on? he said, learning to be a member of the minority. that was so gracious of him. he said, of course, susan, do whatever we have to do to get this moved. >> what was your welcome in the leadership circle? what are your memories of working with the other leadership folks at that time? >> great. g there was an understanding we m
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had just gotten into the o majority, we never took it for granted. it was something we had to work day in and day out. a there was optimism that now thap we can control the agenda and to a certain extent our message, tl would there be an opportunity to show the kinder, gentler republican party, the party thay could do things like breast cancer stamps and move important pieces of legislation relative to women and minorities? i think initially in those days there was kind of this excitement about finally, you know, getting there, but not justst getting there. like, really working it to make sure that -- you know, i brought in -- seems like not such a good idea in represent speculate. but i brought in all the women editors of women's magazines. newt came and dick armey and tom delay, the committee chairs. we did different tables and, of course, all the women members were there. we took them for a tour and said we want to start to establish a dialogue with you all.
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it's not just the people who ed read the "wall street journal," the "washington post" and the "new york times." it's the people who read "redbook" and "shape" and "elle" magazine who get some information. and so political information, i mean. and so we wanted to -- if you had an issue to highlight, we wanted to have the relationship to say, we would love for you to feature this. we all did things like that. >> what were your primary responsibilities as vice chair of the conference?er >> you know what, i think primarily -- certainly when boehner was the chairman at the time, speaker boehner, isn't t that -- the greatest thing about john boehner is that even though he was the house speaker, he was just boehner. he was chairman ater the time. sometimes he would be off and you would run the meetings. people come would come to me probably more than other position its they had an issue o they wanted to bring up, if they weren't sure it was appropriate to be brought up, if they wanted
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to talk through something. the conference is when you would get together and air ideas, concepts, and frustrations. w a lot of times you were the first line of is this the appropriate place for this. i would do a lot of that. >> did you enjoy that? >> i did.k of course. >> how closely did you work with speaker boehner? >> a lot. very closely. and our staffs very closely, yeah. >> were you involved to any degree with the drafting and implementation of the contract with america? >> no, no. i -- i was there as one of the people they talked the point of the contract was one of those things that would unify the republican party as opposed to divide it. so when pete hoekstra and others came together to have the concept, you know, i was
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somebody that they would sit down -- they talked v to a lot members to make sure the way they were talking about the, how it was placing out, that we didn't have any issues or weren'tt missing anything. they were very good in making it a collaborative effort. no, i was somebody who, you know, would, you know, put my two cents in. of course, campaigned heavily oi it. that year, my husband and i got married the year we took the ,ajority. we were pretty high profile. and we'd go into -- i think we went into 52 districts in like three weeks. you wouldn't even know where you were, you were like, it's great to be here with you because you wouldn't remember if it was ohil or illinois. and so, we we would talk about the contract a lot. you know, it was kind of -- it was a game changer, right? it was the first time, i mean, the point of the contract was to say to people, if -- we're pg asking you to change history. to give the republicans a chance at a majority, something that hadn't been done in the
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generation. so we're not just going say trust us, here are then things we'll do within the first 100 days. whether you agree with the contract or not, i think it's a pretty good way to govern. because people knew what they were going to get when they voted. >> can you describe the atmosphere in the house during that transition -- >> crazy -- >> -- to power and -- >> crazy, crazy, crazy. wes literally, we were passing major pieces of t legislation in 100 days. i wear heels all the time. i always wear heels all the time. i never wore heels during that time. you were running between committee meetings, hearings, markups, the house floor -- it was insane. there's a funny "saturday night live" clip with chris farley being newt gingrich where they t were like, family medical leave, passed -- and again, with all the excitement that comes with being in the majority and the optimism and enthusiasm that in came with that, but just think about ten major pieces of legislation happening in 100 days. it was crazy.
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>> what role did women republican members play besides you and leadership -- >> well, i mean, i think women on committees, certainly being spokespeople. there was never, ever an issue if there was ever a press conference to be held that women needed to be there and women bot needed to be spokespeople. and if a woman felt particularly strong about it, we were going to just get that woman up there. i mean -- i don't mean to make it sound it was all so great and easy, but you did not wait your turn because you were a female,a right. they wanted you out there e espousing and speaking and doind talk shows and getting on particularly cnn and doing whatever you needed to to be a messenger for the republican party. women did a lot of that. >> one big example was that you gave the keynote address at the republican convention in san diego in 1996.nt >> yes. >> what did that event mean to you? and how did you prepare for it?
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>> oh. well certainly the greatest thing itod meant to me was that got to speak on behalf of somebody like bob dole. like i just can't -- you know, again, whatever your politics is, this is an american hero. you know, and so to be a part of that campaign was just such a o terrific owner and to -- to speak on his behalf and be a part of that convention was just glorious. but -- but, the story there is, it's a the first time i've work with leteleprompters. from almost the day that i get to san diego, all my friends are there, they're having parties every i am in this trailer learning to read from left to right so you don't look shifty.
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that's all i did. and the way they work it is the podium stays the same, and there's a little box underneath. and you go early in. day and get measured for how high the box has to be so the teleprompters can reach you, right. so the deal was, governor tik mt whitman at the time was going to introduce a clip of like my district, staten island, the ferry, the whole bit. and kasich went on before me. and during that time of the clip, they adjust the thing. so john gets all excited, governor kasich. and he goes much longer than he's's supposed to. he goes right into my time. i'm up against the hard out -- in california, 8:00, 11:00 done, done, done. if she's in the middle of the speech, she's done. we're cutting off at 11:00. so i get there. governor whitman can only say, "and now susan molinari for the keynote speech." and i get out there and the prompters aren't -- r i can't s the prompters. so i do have my written. but there is that moment, like "really?" you lose it. for a second, i think should i say, we're having technical difficulties, we're going to take a five-second
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t i know i can't do that. while i'm thinking of these things, i've already started the speech. so it was a little -- it was what it was. but tozi this day, every time m dad sees john kasich on tv, to thisse day, he say, i'll never forgive him. again, what an amazing honor to be a keynote speaker and a keynote speaker for bob dole. i loved working with senator dole on so many issues. and there's a guy -- i got to know him because we worked closely on several pieces of legislation.ti me as a freshman legislator -- s he does not see age, he does not see gender, he sees american. he's a super-terrific guy. to have gotten to know him so well on legislation and to have gotten that shot of confidence from him was really pretty neat. >> his running mate, too, jack kemp -- >> afterwards. it was a great, exciting time.
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were youe surprised that yo were asked to give the address? >> totally. so before the days of, i guess, cell phones, we were at -- we o were on a slash baptizing of the baby. so the children, both girls were born in staten island and baptized in -- so sometimes we just couldn't collaborate. and we love our district so much, we wanted that piece of history to be with them. o so i think we were baptizing susan. and bill was on his announcement tour, right?e, now finally the old guy is with the wife and the kid. and weed go to all his district. his district was so huge we'd have maybe six or seven announcements. when we were in a bar with a bunch of friends having dinner. mother-in-law was watching
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the baby. the k and "larry king" was on. and i can't remember my press secretary, somehow, i guess we had beepers back in the day. people watching are like, oh, my lord, how old is this woman. and they said, call, senator dole is going to announce you're going to be keynote speaker. i had no i hadn't even been asked to speak at the convention. i thought i was close enough tou get the 4:00 in the afternoon, but that was just great. so he said, the only thing i can tell you is susan molinari will give the keynote speech. now, we do not have cell phones. and they were like, hey, larry king, can we get susan molinari to call? and so there's a cell phone outside the kitchen where they're yelling and screaming. and i'm on the phone, thank you, senator. b so, yes, it was a huge surprise. and of course my husband laughs because we had like three more announcements the next day for him. and all the trucks showed up for me. he was like, okay, we were here for me to announce that i'm running for re-election but here's my wife, susan molinari. >> you talked about your marriage and this, of course, took place while you were a
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member of congress and that's rare for two sitting members to marry. so the first thing -- >> get a few more females in there and it might happen. >> exactly. >> what was the reaction of your colleagues? >> oh, they were so cute. so bill proposed to me on the se house floor. it was not -- not publicly, ande it was during those times that congress was in session, but nobody was there. and mike mcnulty, who is a member of congress from new york also, democrat, was in the chair. and they were debating some bill when my husband and i -- you know, we'd meet sometimes and chat in the back and we ran into each other and we were sitting and he said, well, i just want to like let you know i spoke to your mom and your dad today and then he got on his knee and handed me the ring. and i was like, okay, but get up, get up, get up. but mcnulty saw something. and then that night, we hit a break and it was like defense authorization or appropriations, i'm pretty sure.m and they had a quorum call, because it was such a divisive
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bill at the time. and so they wanted the members there to hear the closings of the debate. d but before they did, speaker foley gave this beautiful, beautiful speech about, i just want to share with everybody, before we get into this debate,e where we, you know, show the differences, that there are some really great things that happened on the floor of the house of representatives, and he just gave a beautiful little speech about bill and i getting engaged. and then the next day, there were all of these one minutes and special orders where eliot engel said, may you have a bunch of children and may they all be democrats.o f h so it's so heartwarming to haveo the family of the u.s. house of representatives congratulate us and be really happy for us. >> and what about your constituents? what was their reaction? t w >> oh, they were thrilled. they were thrilled. they were thrilled. i mean, we did so much press. we looked at this one picture, we were coming down the steps of the capitol the next day and there was all these tourists taking pictures of us from other countries.. and i look back now thinking, they must wonder, like, who were
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these people? they took pictures figuring somebody important and they got back and were like, i don't know who they are. oh, no, the constituents were so excited. l by that point, i would go to a lot of his events, he would come to a lot of my events. so my little italians just loved bill.he you know, the hugs and the hi kisses. and just, they tried to teach him how to say things in italian. so very excited.ll really excited. it was lovely. l >> were there any challenges ors obstacles to being married to another member of congress? >> no. it's -- no, because, you understand. i remember one time, i guess we were married, but bill had come to visit and, like, we were e going to go to a movie and go out to dinner when all of a sudden i got a call that there was going to be this emergency meeting on something. so you could look at somebody and say, i'm so sorry, like, th this just came up and this is really important to my district and you know, we'll go out tomorrow night, but i have to do this.
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and he would be like, of course, he would totally understand that. i and then you would have to live with my dad who would be like every once in a while, i think my daughter is running for governor. rve my father would announce this to the press before we would have a discussion.av and so, no. so too have somebody who understood it and respected it made it so much easier. i mean, once in a while the travel would be an issue, right? that, you know, particularly once we had susan, that i would take her, but we would go back to our districts. so, you know, that was the only challenging part. but in terms of having people who understand what you're going through and needing help and patience? no, no, no. it's a gift. >> and just a couple of years later, as you mentioned, you had your and so you're one of a small group of women in office, in the house, to give birth. what was the response of your colleagues when they heard you were pregnant? >> oh, my gosh, super.
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so right before me, though, was enid green walthope, who was pregnant right before me. so it wasn't quite, you know, the shock, because she had just gone through it. but, you know, colleagues were so sweet, and the gifts would pour in. and people, how are you feeling? are you tired yet? you look great. just you know -- and that's when you become really close friends with your women colleagues.. >> did you receive any advice from. them? like you mentioned in enid green that anything that -- >> no, not really. i think that -- i think as womea we get that we are oftentimes barraged by advice that we don't want and don't need. so sometimes we're more reticent to pour it on to another. you got it together, you don't need me. >> the unsolicited -- >> just a lot of love. >> what about blanche lambert
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lincoln? because she also was pregnant at the same time. >> blanche and i got to be good friends because we would do tv together. some tv show came into my house and we're there with the big bellies.oveod they're like, do you have a smoke alarm? everybody would use this as an opportunity for tv. i remember there was a mother's day right after susan was born and it was mary landrieu with her adorable son sitting on the lap, who was at that age where he was just going to totally upstage mom for mother's day. and blanche lincoln was pregnant the same time as i was. so it was great. w and look, there's probably no easier job than being in congress when you're having a kid, because nobody's going to tell you not to bring your child around. uo so our babies were constantly with us.bu i mean, i went back to work right away, but i had a crib inh my room. i and if i had a meeting and she i was sleeping, i would trade offices with my husband.otot literally, i would go in and say, i've got this meeting and susan's sleeping, can i be in
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your office. so my life was really very easy and very lucky. >> what was the media attention like during this time? >> so the media attention, because not only was, you know, two members married, but i gaved birth a day before mother's day. so now you have the entire media world who's looking for that mother's day hook. john, get me something on mother's day, i got just the thing. so literally, we had to have a press conference. and susan was 14 hours labor and then cesarean. and so -- and after they took her, i started shaking, so i was like d over -- not over-medicat, but i woke up the next day and it was not pretty. there's mayor giuliani with my
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father and i'm, like, throwing up in the bed pan and the world media outside ready to do an interview. but, you know, all good. all good. it's, you know, people should have such problems in life.y >> sounds like a happy mother's day. >> it was a wonderful mother's day. the interesting thing is, i had susan while i was in congress. so the announcement is -- so we have reels and reels and reels of television coverage, newspaper coverage, coverage d around the world. and i had katie when i was out of office and then, katie born to susan wallace, seven pounds. she's like -- >> you mentioned just a few minutes ago that you came back to work after only a couple of weeks. did you ever talk about maternity leave with the leadership or was it a topic ever discussed? f >> no. first of all because i didn't work for them. i i worked for the people of staten island, right? so i don't think this was an issue for me in terms of -- i mean, these people were so wonderful that if i missed votew because i was home with my child, would not have been an issue at all.
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these are glorious family people that would just never, never iv come in. again, i was given the gift of being able to come back to work and bond with my baby. you know, i'm a big proponent of family leave and maternity and paternity leave. i just didn't have to make that decision. as i said, we took the closets where you hang your coat, and i got a piece of wood and i made a dressing table. i had a crib there. there was no -- if susan couldn't sleep, i would take her on the train going back and forth between the house and thet little -- it's a little ride, but she loved it. she would go right to sleep. it did give me an opportunity. and one of the reasons, right after i hat given birth, we had a moving vietnam wall, which was a miniature replica of the vietnam wall. and it was taken to places
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around the country. and it was coming to fort hamilton in my district, and so ith really felt very strongly about havingo to be there. so that sort of got me started getting back into work.ev there were days when susan was sick or whatever, younger, and you do what you have to do as a mother. it was just never an issue.. but again, i went back early because i could, because of my extraordinary circumstances. >> besides your husband, were er there other members that might have helped you i out in a pinc if you had to go vote or you had to meet with someone? >> f i do remember on the house floor. and it was --d back in the day you would vote sometimes at like 11:00 at night. and i had forgotten my card and i had to go to the well. and susan was sleeping. i know this is hard for some people to picture.omol j but i took the baby to tom delay and i was like, tom, can you hold her for a minute? and she was great. but those are the things, right? there's nothing easier than making friends than when you're holding a sweet little baby, particularly when they're sleeping.
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>> we're going shift gears a little bitn now. some general questions about women in congress. when jeanette rankine first served in congress, there wasls ton of press attention paid to her dress and her demeanor because she was a woman.sp >> yay. >> and we also read that you made headlines because you wore pants a during your first floor speech. what was the reaction to that? and did it surprise you? >> crazy -- oh, totally surprised me. i have always been one of those people who feels more comfortable in pants. and so i was giving a one minute on the staten island home port and the need to stay vigilant with defense. and i had nice black like silk, satin pants -- i wasn't wearing jeans. i remember this, i had an
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expensive black jacket on. it was like one of my best outfits. as soon as i got back to officea my chief of staff said, "the new york times," "the daily news," "the kathy and regis show" called.y and i said, hmm. i literally thought to myself, you know, i guess we're making news because young female pro-defense, new york city. because the home port was somewhat controversial. we started making the phone calls back.r it turned out that i was the first female to wear pants on the floor of the house of representatives.toeses not against the dress rules, and the historian will have to research this, but as best as ir could determine, there wasn't ae set out a dress code for females when they were doing those things because they didn't really think there would be any females on the house floor. but yes, i was -- i made "glamour" magazine. i went on the "kathy and regis" show and all because i had pants
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on the floor for the first time. >> this was all external. your colleagues didn't comment. >> no, no. no, no, no. not at all. i would be really surprised if they would have noticed, yeah. >> before we go too far, i want to give you a chance about the story that you talked about off tape when the delegation that you led to bosnia when you were pregnant. can you tell us about that? >> thank you. i got to be close with bob dole during the former yugoslavia crisis.sisi and during the time, we had an arms embargo out against.nd and what was happening was that there still was arms that were going in to slobadan milosevic'b area but not to the croatians and others throughout the yugoslavian, former yugoslavian area. i visited there once, i had gone to croatia and really became touched by what was going on there which was very early stages of the genocide that was
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taking place. a i became more and more involved and was that person who would, you know -- i remember going to the vice president, i remember going to eat with -- with secretary eagleburger, d going to meet with madeleine albright -- i went to whomever i could and say -- literally, my speech was, you know, i -- i will not be that person -- you wonder how those people who were in power during world war ii you know, felt about their to, you know, have this nearou eradication take place. and now we are watching genocide take place.. it's not even like we have to ap hear it through a radio.e it's on the front page of our papers, it's on the news every night. and we have to do something.g. if at least to end the arms embargo so it can be a fair fight. pld and that was bob dole's position, too. that was actually how we got to be pretty close. we would pass resolutions together and get engaged. so i went to newt when -- i w guess we were still in minority. i said, like, i'm going crazy, w we have to do something about this.
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he said, start the balkan crisis task force. i was like, okay. so i did. which then you'd get calls on tv to go -- of course i would do it because i wanted to raise consciousness. they would say, susan molinari, chairman of the balkan crisis task force, which i made up the day before. it was good enough to get me booked to talk about an issue i cared passionately about. i stayed -- i went and traveled there a bunch of times. i just never let up.e i mean, awful things, you know.. and the women's caucus would work very closely. there was the systemic rape that occurs in every war and still is occurring in places around the a globe. but because of the ethnic tensions, the serbian soldiers would come into a village, takey all the younger women, would put them in a house and just systematically rape them until they got pregnant and keep themy there until they couldn't get an abortion and then would let then go. they would not be welcomed back
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by their families because they were impregnated by a serb. i remember meeting a woman who said she had to go to her r daughters and family and lie and say, my sister's sick in the -- and so even though bombs are going off where my kids are, i a had to leave them because i knew that my life would not be pretty there. and once i had the baby i coulda go back. women's groups would bring the women over to talk to us so thae we could understand just how horrific the situation was over there without anybody doing anything. so right when we were considering sending peacekeepers, newt had come to me and said we're going to send a co-del, congressional delegation, of about 25 men and women. and i'd like you to lead the delegation. i was about four months pregnant at the time. they sent a doctor on the planet with me. but still, i went over there. interesting time because i wouln
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be interviewed by christiane amanpour who was very interested in the issue. and it was clear that i was pregnant. and, you know, i would get the mail from people like, how could you go this area while you're pregnant. i did enjoy the fact that i got to go face to face with slobodan slobodan milosevic as a female who wasn't going to take any crap, and i was pregnant, you knew this was this man's worst nightmare, "where has the t world gone wrong for me?" at theee end we were moving int sarajevo to meet with the president at the time, and all these people were standing outside, you know, applauding us and, you know, send peace keepers, send peace keepers. they wanted thehe u.s. to come and helpn in the situation. and so as we were walking in, there was a woman who grabbed my hand and she said, please, please do n what you need to, w can't continue like this. and you need to help us, america
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needs to helpp us. i said, that's what we're here for, we're going to take as many facts as we can and bring it back. she b grabbed my hand, touched belly and said, i just lost my only avson. you're going to be a mama. you have to help me. ah. so, you know, i got some criticism for going. as somebody who was aboutth to have a baby. but relative to the conversations they were having, i think it increased my perspective for what needed to be done.hat sorry about that. >> that's fine. how influential was w that code for the colleagues who went with you? >> i think it was extremely influential. it was bipartisan. i think just the ability to give information back -- because we were talking to the world leaders. we were talking to our people ie our state department, people, to
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be able to let them know that the situation was ripe. look,s we were still living wit this concept that these people have been at war with each other for so long and they will never learn to get along. andt i actually remember saying not to keepht bringing up the mother fight, but i do not believe there is a mother who loves their child less than they hate that i neighbor. so. nobody wants this to continue. and so we were able to be on the ground and see that. everybody -- you know, we could end this war and it would end. and so ifl think it was very influential. andd coming back at that point, we started working very closely withth vice president gore and secretary holbrook, because they did want to make sure they had republican support for this. and i think we were able to make it a really nice, important history-makingng decision.
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>> were there other women on that codel with you? >> hmm. i'm sure there was but i couldn't tell you. >> that's a pretty large group. >> yeah, it was a large group. again, i think g we wanted as mc people to meet and go back and be a part of the debate, because it was a serious step we were taking. >>eg how important do you think those delegations were just to try tond see a different side o members and to get to know each other? >> there's no doubt, there's no doubt that travel, which is something that people -- now, i never went on any of the glamorous -- i went to -- right before the persian gulf war, i wentan to israel. if there was action, that's where i wanted to be. i didn't do any of those air shows, aitravel. look, there's something to be said, again, going back to the conversation of, people getting toim know one another outside t floor, spending time together. you travel ass americans, as members of the u.s. congress,
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not republicans and democrats. and it does make it a lot easiel to collaborate once you get back that personal time. ii also think where members had , when our ies here wives, our husbands, our friends, our kids f go to the se school, that sort of makes it a little harder for me to demonize you in arc debate on the floor. i remember being at church a couple of years ago when i was still doing some politicking, punditry,r it was christmas eve we were going to do an our father and it was robs gibbs. i was like, no more picking on robert. you're on the trip there times when you all cried together you have those moments when you're on a trip, there's times when you all cry together or you have a real serious conversation about where you're going to be sending those u.s. troops. those are things that allow you
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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 have been goes on in the world and to bring it back. i know there are people who had the tendency to brag that they didn't have a passport, but i think we know when you're elected to the u.s. house of representatives or the united states senate, that we do call the president the leader of the free world, and it's nice to be able to get to know places outside the united states. in order to make appropriate decisions. >> let's move to some wrap-up questions. >> mm-hmm. >> because when you served, there were relatively so few women in congress at that time, did you feel that you didn't
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only represent your constituents but you represented a larger group of women nationally? >> no doubt about it. no doubt about it. again, you felt that you were representing the larger group. i felt more -- i don't want to say pressure, because i enjoyed it. but i felt very strongly about the need to get out there and be seen on tv, to opine on issues that i felt were important. i mean, again, it's twofold. we all bring our experiences to a discussion, and they're all different experiences. and so i did take very seriously the experience of being a female, in bringing that to the discussion. i was not one of those people, sometimes i would, you know, go up to somebody and say, they did this, i would be like, 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. if there was something that was going on with regard to women, any place, i was going to be the
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female. and so i took that very seriously. there was a reason i was there. and so yes, i worked on behalf of my constituents, i worked on behalf of the issues i was concerned about, balancing the budget, all those things in the republican party. but women were right up there. and not the least of which was, so that somebody would come up to me and say, i remember watching you on tv or i heard you give a speech and that's why i decided to take this chance. and it might even have been that they decided to run for office, but they decided to take a chance. and i think that's really important. >> you've touched on a lot of legislative examples. in that regard, as kind of what political scientists call a surrogate representative, was there one moment that sticks in your mind, boy, this issue, i'm speaking as a national representative? >> so, interestingly, during the
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crime bill, president clinton, i was one of the -- i voted against the rule because it was a closed rule, right? so even though i was for the gun control that was in there and it meant a lot of money for new york city, mayor giuliani, police commissioner bratton, everybody was for it, but when the opposing party presents a rule that doesn't allow your party to present any amendments, felt obliged to vote against the rule which killed the bill at the time. and so newt at the time brought five of us together to say we were -- who wanted to support the bill and wanted to negotiate some amendments, and mine was prior rules of evidence. and it was -- the basis of it was that something we're living through right now with bill cosby, in the case of rape or child molestation, where it's kind of one word against the other, if there are so many similarities as there oftentimes are, where the judge would determine it's more probative
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than prejudicial to bring these instances in. and so all these cases where, you know, somebody would -- a man was on trial for rape and you could prove there had been allegations or even convictions of a rape that occurred, you know, woman, same height, blond hair, wearing tennis shoes, whatever it is, there's a pattern there, and the guy would get convicted, and it would always be overturned. so that sort of became my thing in the crime bill. it does also -- so i had to negotiate with a bunch of people on that, including vice president biden, whom i absolutely adore, because -- for many reasons, but one reason, i had to negotiate with 20 people before they brought him in, he was head of the judiciary at the time, and you could tell they wanted nothing to do with me.
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we were still in the minority. so here is a young female yanking the majority's chain over the president's signature piece. and then they brought in joe biden. and he was tough and he was fair and he treated me like an equal. and i will -- i mean, i love him 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, saw him in croatia during the war when i didn't think anybody else cared. but that was a piece of legislation that eventually passed. that was part of the president's crime bill and we were able to bring over 50 to 60 republicans to support the bill once we opened up those elements. >> some of the major issues that affected women, sometimes you were, in the republican party, not all of your republican parties supported it as well. so what did you do to try to build support for violence against women and the family and medical leave act?
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>> so if i felt there was a way to actually influence it and pass it, i would work with the leadership to try and get it done. if i felt that this was just something that philosophically was not going to happen, i would work with members to discuss it in a way that was not offputting, that sometimes the "father knows best" way of handling these conversations. so i would try both ways, again, to try and get people to perhaps listen to where i thought they were wrong, work to change their mind, but if that wasn't the case, to get them to speak more graciously about their disagreements. >> were they often receipt receptive to that? >> yeah, yeah, they were. most people are here for the
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right reasons, just bringing their experiences to the table. i remember one time, and i won't name the individual, but the nicest, sweetest, kindliest gentleman who was very old -- was old by the time i was there, and he yielded the floor to me. one of the most gracious individuals who did not have a biased bone in his body. but he yielded the floor to the little lady from new york. women would come up to me and say, take his words down! you have to sometimes interpret where it's coming from, right? if it was a 30-year-old member who did it, it would be taken in a much different way than somebody who was -- had always been really kind and really fair and that was just his way. so, you know, sometimes you have to -- as with everything in life, you have to look at the person, not just -- not just the topic at hand.
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>> in the late spring of 1997, you surprised a lot of observers by saying you were stepping down and going to retire and change careers. why did you decide to leave congress? >> so a couple of reasons. primarily, as if i have not talked about my father enough during this interview, my father took this job as a 24/7 job. i dad would be the kind that, if we were done with dinner, he would go through the phone book, this is guy molinari, how are things going? he just lived and breathed this and this was all you did. i had a baby late, and loved this job, but it's two jobs. don't cry for me argentina, but when the media says congress is on vacation, they're not, they're back in their district doing what they're supposed to do. i loved it, if you want me to be
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at your kid's eagle scout award, if you want me to throw out the first baseball at little league baseball, this is a big deal. so wherever you want me, i am 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. but i missed her. and then i would be with her, and i felt guilty about not being out at your kid's eagle scout award. when i got the opportunity, it seemed like a good idea at the time, to anchor a show on cbs, which was supposed to be more political than it turned out to be, and work three days a week, keep your hand in it but not really, it just seemed like a good opportunity. i feel so strongly the need to say, that was a decision i made because of where i was in my life. i have had great friends who have raised their kids in the united states congress and their kids are great and they were great parents. you know, this is not -- i hate
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the tutorial of who is a better mom and the mom books and the mom wars. it was just what was right for me at the time. that's why i decided to leave. >> i want to ask you a legislation question, a broad one. in all of your time in congress, in the '90s, what do you think was the most important piece of legislation passed that had a direct impact on women? >> hmm. oh, i have to think about that one. going back to the '90s. i mean, i think certainly, you know, the -- and it happened before, right, the violence against women act. but i don't know if young people can appreciate the fact that i served on mayor giuliani's commission on the status of women. i was chair of that. and it was at that time,
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mid-'80s, that we were actually dealing with the fact that there were mandatory arrests. and i remember the discussions on domestic violence being something like this: it's a family matter, you go to the door, the cops say usually to the gentleman, buddy, take a walk around, cool down, do you want to press charges. and even if the woman was clearly incapacitated and scared, if she said no, end of deal, close the book. to think where we've gotten today as a society, and i remember as chairman i did hearings in each borough on domestic violence, and i remember even my dad sitting there hearing female victims, being shocked at what they had to go through. as a situation, it was that family secret. then all of a sudden it became political. people wanted to co-sponsor the violence against women act. people wanted to vote for it, people wanted to talk about domestic violence as a political
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issue. that's what needs to be done in any of these things. right now we're working on underage sex trafficking and all of a sudden it's become an issue that's become political. the united states senate passed a major piece of legislation on underage trafficking. it passed both the house and the senate, republicans and democrats. but i think the violence against women act was really sort of one of those -- and the reauthorizations, because they gave us an opportunity to talk about it. it gave us an opportunity to highlight. it gave us an opportunity to give voice to those people who for so long felt like they had absolutely no voice and brought it out of the closet and again, made it political. and that's how we make changes. i bear no apologies to say that, you know, making something political is how you make changes in a democracy. and so when people want to discuss it, when people want to have town halls on it, that's when you'll see the societal shift. i really think the whole issue of violence against women, you know, buddy, take a walk around the block, protective orders,
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just society's response to, you know, acknowledging the helplessness that sometimes individuals find themselves in when, you know, they have kids, don't have kids. but, you know, just elevating that conversation every time it had to be reauthorized was a really important moment, i think. at least why i was here. >> we've asked you a lot of questions about the past. now we're going to ask you to look into the crystal ball prognosticate. there's 88 women in the house, 20 in the senate. looking out 50 years from now, 50 years from jeanette rankin's centennial, how many women do you think will be in congress and how will we get to that point? >> well, first of all, more women need to run. i mean, that's -- that's such a
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big portion of the problem. and i know it looks dirty and mean. and it is. but, you know what, anything that gives you an opportunity to be in such a life-changing position isn't going to be easy. women need to be -- so i think we've gotten to a place where i was allowed because of my lineage as a woman to run. but there was a little bit of an apology there, right? she's guy's daughter so we can do this. to a point when i can remember when my husband was running the national republican congressional committee, they started to look for females. it wasn't just, we'll let this one run because they have the right lineage, they can raise the money, they have the right background. if you had two candidates being equal, the female would be the one the party would go after. so we are seeing change in just this short time. 50 years from now, i hope, you
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know, women are in the majority, as they are in this country, as they are in the electorate. if we want the united states congress to reflect the united states, we've got to step on it. >> one of your daughters told you they wanted to run for congress, what would you say and what advice would you offer? >> oddly enough, in our family, what with the grandfather, a mother and father who were in congress, this has come up from time to time. and i would certainly encourage it. it's not the easiest road. it's not easy to sometimes put yourself out there. but boy, the benefits. i mean, look, you're talking to me and allowing me to be a part of history. there's not many jobs where you can do that. to get the trust of your neighbors, to be able to make decisions with presidents of the united states, and united states
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senators, and leaders from around the world, generals, i look back on my life, you know, the first persian gulf war, i said when i walked into the studio, the last time i was in the studio, i was taping a show for my little show on staten island, we brought in all these human shields that saddam hussein had used to keep himself self during the first gulf war, to be able to unite with some of my sisters on issues like tailhook and aberdeen, to have fights about funding domestic violence or breast cancer or, you know, maybe doing a little part to bring peace to the former yugoslavia. like, 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. but it's a heady experience. if my daughters wanted to do it, you have to be tough.
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it's not an easy path. but the payout is unbelievable. i would support them 100%. not pushing them in that direction by any means. >> looking back on your house career, was there anything unexpected to it or that surprised you? . >> no. i think if there was anything that surprised me, i know this is going to sound ridiculous, is how easy it was. if you wanted to get something done, it didn't always happen. you were gifted with incredible staff, brilliant people surrounding you. the thing that surprises most people when they come here is this nation really is run by people under 30. but, like, smart people, passionate people. and if you have a cause that you
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really want to pursue, and you're going to be dogged, you can usually get it done. i think that was sort of a surprise for me. it was not a surprise for me technically on how by the partisan it was because my dad was so bipartisan. like, i remember my dad, we were walking into the fox studio for something and he said, now, here's a guy you're going to work with because he's a good guy and he's going to help you. and i looked and it was chuck schumer. and he was right, because we were both new yorkers. senator schumer now. there would be times when we would battle but there would also be times when as a delegation you totally unite, certainly if you're from new york city, you had to fight a significant portion of the rest of the united states congress, republicans or democrats. >> we've asked you a lot of questions. thank you for answering them. >> 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
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lasting legacy will be as a member of congress, years from now when people see your name, what do you think they'll say? >> oh, my. i don't think they'll remember. i was there for so short a period of time. i was such a blip. you know, if there were people who could remember, i would like it to be -- so if i was going to write my own legacy, let's do that. it would be that she could work across the aisle and she could work with people with whom she disagreed but respected, and always felt really proud to be a part of this institution. >> sounds like a great legacy. >> thank you so much for sharing your time. >> thank you. c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we're funded by these television companies and more including
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charter communications. broadband is a force for empowerment. that's why charter has invested billions building infrastructure, upgrading technology, empowering opportunity in communities big and small. charter is connecting us. >> charter communications supports c-span as a public service along with these other television providers. giving you a front row seat to democracy. follow american history tv on twitter, facebook, and youtube for schedule updates. to learn about what happened this day in history, watch videos, and learn more about the people and events that have shaped the american story. find us @c-spanhistory. >> we're with alan shepard, pebble beach, california. you can't seat magnificent view because we backed it out. alan, thank you for letting us be here with you t


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