First Lady Hillary Clinton was blamed for the poor showing during the 1994 midterm elections. "Voters thought that it was a zero sum game, that for Hillary to be strong Bill would have to be weak, and as a result the perception of Hillary’s strength became a perception of Bill’s weakness," says Political Consultant Dick Morris.
Dick Morris, Political Consultant: One of the big problems was the relationship between Bill and Hillary. Voters thought that it was a zero sum game, that for Hillary to be strong Bill would have to be weak, and as a result the perception of Hillary’s strength became a perception of Bill’s weakness. The polling made me understand that, and when I came back to work for Clinton, one of the first things I did was to tell Hillary you can be as influential as you want to be but do it in private. Don’t sit in on the strategy meetings, don’t make the appointments, don’t make everybody be cleared with you. At the bedroom at night tell him what to do but don’t let it be seen in public.
Narrator: Morris’ advice hit home. After the stunning defeat in the mid-term elections, Hillary had received a large share of the blame.
Harold Ickes, Deputy Chief of Staff: She was outspoken, she was smart, she was hard driving, and some people resented her. Remember during the campaign, it was two for the price of one, well people aren’t electing two for the price of one. They’re electing the president.
Gail Sheehy, Writer: She had been caught out trying to be a co-President. That just wasn’t gonna fly, and that’s when she really had to begin to really reexamine, again as she did as Governor’s wife, what does the public want from me in this role and to take on gradually a little bit more of the traditional role of First Lady.
Hillary Clinton (archival): Well, Welcome to the White House and the beginning of the Christmas Season.
Narrator: Unsatisfied by her ceremonial role as first lady, Hillary began working on issues important to her, but not alarming to the public.
She began writing a book about children and traveled abroad with Chelsea to advocate for women’s rights. She wrote a weekly syndicated column, and even consulted a psychic in the White House. But, it wasn’t enough.
Gail Sheehy, Writer: She felt for one of the rare times in her life completely depressed. She said everything she was doing wasn’t working, she just didn’t know what to do anymore, ‘cause she really wanted to be in there right at Bill Clinton’s side, fighting all the political battles that he was doing.
My American Experience
Who is your favorite 20th-century American president? Was it FDR? Reagan? Clinton? Or one of the other 14 men who helped usher the United Sates through the 1900s? Who do you think was the most influential?