On Friday night at GW’s Lisner Auditorium, Hillary Clinton sat down with her former speechwriter Lissa Muscatine, co-owner of Politics & Prose, for a conversation on the Hard Choices of her career as Secretary of State.
Much of the dialogue brought on audience displays of excitement through laughing, cheering, and clapping. Below are ten of the most crowd-pleasing quotes at at Hillary Clinton’s Friday night talk at GW.
On writing Hard Choices from her “writing room” in her home: “I would go up there early in the morning and I would make as many detours as I possibly could. It was always for something else. It was time to walk the dogs. It was time to go down and get more water…because you have to be very well hydrated…Ohh, and then of course, I read that you really should not sit for more than an hour. That became my favorite excuse.”
Recalling a drive to the camp of the King of Saudi Arabia with the country’s Foreign Minister: “The Foreign Minister was telling me how much he disliked camels. And I was saying, ‘My goodness! That’s like an Australian not liking kangaroos. That’s just so hard to imagine.’ But we were having a bit of a banter and a back and forth, and when we got to the meeting, it was a very large, formal setting, and I turned to the King and said, ‘Your Majesty, the Foreign Minister said he doesn’t like camels,’ and he said ‘What is wrong with him?’ “
On her studying two years of French at Wellesley College and contemplating a third: “When I had to go around and talk about what I would take for my junior year, and I went to see my French professor, and said, ‘Well, I’m thinking about this course and that course.’ She said, ‘Mademoiselle, your talents lie elsewhere’.”
On what it’s like when staffers finally get to relax on the plane and go to turn on a movie: “Well, the first thing I would say is, the choice of movie was often really low grade.”
Recalling a time when her air-borne staff voted to watch the movie “Breach” : “There’s a scene in which the actor…he says, ‘We don’t need anymore women in pants like Hillary Clinton.’ And the whole plane just bursts into full on laughter.”
On trying to meet with the Chinese Ambassador to the United States at an OAS meeting in Lima, Peru: “So the press was having a pisco sour happy hour, and apparently, pisco sours make you very happy. Especially these that were made in Lima. So we were looking for the Ambassador to try to find the time. I went down to the bar at the hotel. And we were trading stories, chatting each other up, and you know, I’m having a pisco sour. Any pretty soon, things are looking really positive.”
She went on to say: “And all of a sudden, one of the Foreign Service Officers comes up and says, ‘Madam Secretary. The Chinese Ambassador is here!’ ‘Ohh where?’ ‘Right there!’ ‘Ohh Mr. Ambassador. Please come in.’ I take him to a back table. We pull out our papers. And Mark Landler, a now White House reporter for the Times – then he was covering the State Department – he just sees me sitting with this Chinese man. And we’re looking at papers. And he comes over carrying two big pisco sours.”
Asked by an audience member via note card whether she really autographed all “these” books: “You know what? I really did…The ones that you are getting. They’ve all been personally signed.”
Asked by Muscatine what she sees when she looks into Vladimir Putin’s eyes – the soul of a man who cares deeply about his country or the soul of a KGB agent? : “Fascinating…He and I have exchanged a few verbal volleys…His most recent was he called me weak. But then quickly followed it up with adding, ‘Weakness is probably not so bad in a woman’.” She quipped, “Yeah, me too.”
And her final response – which garnered 25 second of audience cheers and clapping – asked via Twitter by Tyler Smith, ‘What do you want your legacy to be?’ : “I don’t think about a legacy. I think about my life. Because I’ve had quite an unpredictable life. And I thought a lot about that when I was writing the book. I could never, when I was growing up in Park Ridge, Ill., have imagined what I have had the great pleasure of experiencing, the challenges and difficulties along with the extraordinary experiences and opportunities. And I think that really is at the core of what I care most about. Both for my own family and my future grandchild but also for our country. I want young people, particularly to feel as though the future may not be totally clear to you but it looks like its full of promise for you. That you have the opportunity because you’ve acquired the education, because you’re willing to work hard, to be given your definition of the American dream. And that’s how I was raised…What I hope, is that my grandchild, when he or she comes into the world this fall, will have that same view of what America means and why America matters…I saw us, once again using our innovation and our energy and our resilience to come back from a terrible economic crisis that’s still not fully resolved. But I also saw so much disagreement and argument about what we’re doing and what we stood for. And what were the right decisions…The book is about my time as Secretary of State. But I carry with me all my experiences. So I’m not ready to stop and think about legacy because I want to keep thinking about my life and what my life has meant to me and what my obligations are to my grandchild and everyone else. And I’m going to do that through the work of the Clinton Foundation and other ways.”