(Hosted by Gloria Campos)
MS. CAMPOS: Well, I would like to welcome everyone here for our ‘Stories From the Top.’ And this is perhaps the most special one we’ve ever had. As you’ve heard, this is the Sixth Annual. It’s been my privilege and honor to be the moderator for three years, and it is very exciting and a great honor for me to be here with you too, because I admire and respect both of you so much.
And I wanted to welcome you here. I know it’s been a long day for you. And I also wanted to make our audience aware that I really feel a tiny kinship with both of you. For one, I don’t know how many of you know that the Senator was a television news reporter at one time, in another lifetime. Yes. (Applause.) And no, I have not been elected to any kind of office, nor am I a lawyer, but needless to say I have been noted for my laugh, so I think we share that as well. (Laughter.)
So we hope you’ll share that laugh with us today. But we know it’s been a long day for both of you and that you just came from Washington, even though you were hoping to come directly from Mexico. So tell us about your morning. You’ve been in Washington and have come back to Texas, and we’re so happy that you’re here.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Gloria, thank you so much. I thought when you were saying what we had in common; you were going to say that as someone in the public eye, as you are on television, your hairstyles get more comments – (laughter) --
MS. CAMPOS: That’s true.
SECRETARY CLINTON: -- than nearly anything else about your work. I first want to thank everyone for your patience and your flexibility. Gloria is right; I was in Mexico for two days and I had thought I could come here to Dallas directly from Mexico, but the President had other ideas in mind, and I was in the White House this morning as the President announced our new strategy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan.
And I really commend the details to you, to read the coverage, to watch the news. We’re trying to recognize the critical importance of defeating al-Qaida and their allies, and doing so in a way that strengthens the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and provides the people of those two countries a chance to have security that, in turn, will help our own security here at home.
So I very much appreciate it. I was a little worried about whether it would work out, as some of you know. And I was particularly concerned about facing my friend and former colleague, Kay, because she and I have been planning to do this for many months, and I was really upset about Matrice, because I had talked to Ron Kirk about three days ago and he said, “I’ll see you in Dallas.” I said, “Well, I don’t know, I think they’re going to do the Afghanistan-Pakistan rollout.” He goes, “Oh, that’s not good, not good.” (Laughter.) That’s why he’ll be an excellent USTR negotiator.
And I was really worried about seeing my longtime friend Debbie Branson, who was the first person to formally invite me here many months ago, long before I was Secretary of State. So I am very pleased this worked out, and I thank you for, not only the patience and the flexibility, but giving Kay and me a chance to be here together.
MS. CAMPOS: Terrific. So let’s get started. (Applause.)
Senator, we’ll start with you. To the best of your memory, what was the first thing you wanted to be when you grew up? All of us little girls get asked that. What did you want to be?
SENATOR HUTCHISON: I wish that I could tell you that I had thought that I would ever run for public office, which I did not; that I wanted to be a lawyer, which I did not. I was a ballet dancer. I thought that my future was going to be just like my mother’s; I’d probably just grow up and be a mom and maybe dance. But that was about the limit that I ever thought I would do.
MS. CAMPOS: Do you want to add (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I mean, I was trying to think when you were asking Kay. I mean, I wanted to be a baseball player. (Laughter.) I wanted to be a journalist. I know you’ll never believe that. But the most searing experience of what I wanted to be was when I was inspired by President Kennedy and our space program, and they created NASA and they were recruiting astronauts. And I don’t know, I think I was thirteen or so, and so I wrote to NASA to ask how I could become an astronaut. And I got a response back which was, “We’re not interested in women astronauts.”
So, I took particular pleasure many, many years later – (laughter) – when Sally Ride went into space. And I have followed the women astronauts ever since. Now, the fact is, like being a baseball player, it was a totally ridiculous ambition. I mean, I was disqualified on so many counts. (Laughter.) But those were some of the things that I thought about in those early years.
MS. CAMPOS: Well, both of you are known for your leadership capability. Senator, to whom or what do you credit your confidence to be the leader that you are?
SENATOR HUTCHISON: It was my parents, because even though girls when I was growing up had no idea that we could actually dream to run for public office or be an astronaut, my father especially never, ever discouraged me from anything I wanted to do. And I was always sort of doing things within my arena that were different. And he encouraged me, of course, to go to college. He encouraged me to go to law school, even though there were really only maybe five or six women in my class when I went. But he never acted like it was odd.
And so while I didn’t have the lofty ambitions, I did have the encouragement every step of the way that whatever crazy thing I was doing at the time that girls weren’t really doing, he was there and supportive. And that was enormously helpful, because some of my friends’ fathers wouldn’t let them go to college or wouldn’t let them do other things other than what every other girl was doing. So I really credit him for being surprised, but also very encouraging.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that is such a familiar story for someone of our vintage, Kay’s and mine, because parents are always influential, hopefully in a positive way. But when we were growing up, there were just so many overt and implied obstacles to what young women could aspire to. There were certainly schools you couldn’t go to, scholarships you couldn’t apply for - jobs that were not available to you. And my father, who was a very self-made man, a small businessman, he had gone to college on a football scholarship. And education was not his primary reason for being in college. And then he was in the Navy during World War II and he was a chief petty officer, and he sort of viewed life like a chief petty officer, that people should be ordered what to do and where to stand and all of that.
But he had such an open mind about his children, and he had a very high expectation for me and what I could accomplish. And years later, I read about how there was a correlation between what fathers expected of their daughters or encouraged their daughters to do, and what those daughters felt confident and comfortable to do, certainly in the post World War II era. So I really give my father enormous credit. I don’t he would have ever described what he was doing as particularly key to any outcome. It was just, as Kay was saying, do well in school and we expect you to do well in school, and yes, you should go to college, and all the rest. And my mother, who never got to go to college, I think is the one who harbored great hopes, maybe unstated, but nevertheless but really motivating her to encourage me to take risks.
And I also think for me, too, because I did love to play sports and played with a lot of the boys in my neighborhood from the time I was a little girl, and I guess was sort of a tomboy in those early years, again, that kind of competition. And you learn to win and you learn to lose, and you don’t take it personally; you just get spurred on to do more. I think all of that from my earliest years in upbringing is probably what I attribute all of those traits to.
MS. CAMPOS: Now, as long as we’re talking about girls, as senators, both of you worked together to write provisions allowing single-sex public schools into the No Child Left Behind legislation. As you may know, here at Fair Park, we are home to the first public all-girls school in the state of Texas, and they are here. (Applause.) Wave to them, girls. They’re here. And we also have students from that school and two private all girls school in our audience.
So why do you think that single-sex education is important? Senator.
SENATOR HUTCHISON: First of all, I want to say that it was very hard to pass this legislation. I started working on it when I first came to the Senate with Jack Danforth from Missouri in 1993 or ‘4, and we kept hitting obstacles, hitting obstacles, hitting obstacles. But my overriding view was that every parent should have this option. It’s not a mandate, but there are certain areas, certain levels of education, where it is proven that girls can do better in a single-sex environment, and that boys can. And so I just felt like public schools should offer this.
And when Hillary came to the Senate, she believed in it and she had a wonderful school – and I’ll let her mention it – the Young Women’s Leadership School in Harlem that was a phenomenal success, giving girls who would never have had a chance to go to college. And so she believed in it. And our other colleagues who had been to girls schools also helped us. And we just – Hillary and I together really just finally bulled this through.
And I was so proud of it. It was one of the most rewarding of all of the things that I’ve done because it was so hard to make people understand that this option should be available to parents who can’t afford private school, but know that their boy or their girl will do better in that single-sex environment and that’s allowing more options to let every child reach his or her full potential.
So I loved it. And when Hillary came, that’s when we were able to have enough of the bipartisan heft to get it through. It was great.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And I have to really give the credit to Kay because she started on this and persisted with it. I was thrilled to be able to support her. And it was hard and it was a hard for a couple of reasons. It was hard because a lot of our friends and allies in other battles that we waged in the women’s movement, for example, were dead set against it. They thought it was a step backwards and they believed it was wrong to segregate girls or boys in the public school system. And they were just absolutely incredulous that either of us would be so strongly in favor of it.
The civil rights groups were also raising questions that they thought it might be a step back, a form of segregation. And in fact, there had been some efforts to shut down the school that Kay’s referring to that was started by private benefactors but put within the public school system, in the New York City school system, and it was a great success. I mean, it literally didn’t have its own building. It worked up a couple of flights of stairs to begin with in some small rooms. But these young women were given a safe place to be themselves, to feel as though they were judged by how well they did, not what they looked like; a place where they could step out of the cultural pressures that young women, unfortunately, face today – how they look and all the other kinds of cultural messages they receive.
And I was so convinced that this was such a good idea that when we were debating the No Child Left Behind bill, and Kay was going to reintroduce her bill, I immediately asked to join forces with her. And I think, like she, that it’s one of the best things I did in the Senate. Because I believe strongly that not only should young women and their families have this choice, but there is evidence that for certain young women – not all, but certain young women – this is a really important educational experience. And it gives them so much more confidence in themselves.
And so now they’re starting to spread around the country, and I’m so happy you have one here. But that also goes along with a fundamental view that I’ve long held. There should be more choice in public education. There should be schools for certain kinds of interests that young people have. There should be different configurations of the way schools are structured and organized. So I think we should be trying lots of different things, because children don’t come in one-size-fits-all. And that’s why this single-sex school option in the public school system is so important. (Applause.)
MS. CAMPOS: It’s obvious and apparent to everyone here that the two of you share a mutual respect and friendship. So how do you suggest that women exert their natural collaborative styles to bridge what’s become a destructive divide between the two major political parties in our country? How do you work together?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think part of it is to develop personal relationships so that you see each other as individuals, not as political caricatures. There will still be disagreements. I mean, I think if you compared our overall voting records, there would be a pretty clear set of differences in how we voted in representing our constituencies. But Kay and I worked together on several important pieces of legislation. We shared a real passion for trying to remediate injustices where we saw them, particularly as they affected women.
A quick story: One of the other things we worked on, which I’m very proud of because it had personal effects on people I knew in New York, was to change a law that prohibited women whose husbands had died in the service to our country from marrying again, no matter how long they lived, because to do so would mean they would lose their benefits that they had earned when their first husband was killed in combat.
And I had a couple in New York who were in their late 70s, and this woman’s husband had died in the Vietnam War. And she’d been with this other gentleman for about five years and they were just in agony because they couldn't get married because their incomes together, if she didn’t have her benefits, would not be enough for them to really have a decent standard of living.
So we teamed up and it took a while, but we changed that law. So we’ve worked together, and that has built not only on our personal relationship and respect for each other, but a working relationship. And I think that’s what you have to do in any legislative or political arena, is don’t personalize it and don’t demonize other people who don’t agree with you. People have different reasons for the positions they hold. And particularly in the Senate where you have to build coalitions because you need to try to aim for 60 votes for anything you want to pass, someone you may have opposed today will be your best ally tomorrow. And that really reminds you of how it is always better to find ways to disagree agreeably, but then look for ways that you can find common cause. And that’s what Kay and I have done.
MS. CAMPOS: Senator, do you want to elaborate on that?
SENATOR HUTCHISON: Well, actually, I just would agree. I think in your question is the answer. Women have a collaborative style of management and working. And it’s not that we agree on everything, because I think our voting records would be really very opposite, but we look for the places where we have agreement and we build on that. And I think we’ve been able to be effective where we have had those types of opportunities.
So I think the more women we can have in our – especially in our legislative bodies, because in the legislature it’s so important that you have all the different experiences coming together, because then you will come out with an answer that is going to take into account the most of the people and the concerns that they have in this country. So I think we’ve been able to have a good influence, and we just need to keep working in that direction.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Can I just add one thing, Gloria? Because as I was listening to Kay talk, I was thinking about – we’ve had dinner together, we’ve talked about our lives together with our other women colleagues, because her comment about collaboration is so on point. And we have a dear colleague named Barbara Mikulski, who some of you know is a senator from Maryland and probably one of the more liberal members of the Senate in terms of her voting record, but just an absolutely delightful person.
And Kay had her come to Texas one time and took her to a rodeo. (Laughter.) And that – I mean, that is all Barbara can talk about. (Laughter.) I mean, she – and I don’t know, Kay got her a whole outfit to wear, her own belt and everything. I mean, Barbara Mikulski, she just loved it.
SENATOR HUTCHISON: Just to elaborate on that, Barbara was looking at this complete auditorium full of people dressed for a rodeo. She leans over and whispers to me, “Now, Kay, if I were here on Monday morning and we went to a Chamber of Commerce meeting, would these people look like this?” (Laughter.) So true, yes, we can come together in the most odd circumstances. (Laughter.)
MS. CAMPOS: And we leave our boots behind sometimes. Now, on to the role as women leaders – leaders, period – how often does the weight and significance of your leadership role, your role as a United States Senator representing Texas – a very important state, I might add – keep you awake at night?
SENATOR HUTCHISON: Well, I look at the Secretary of State and I think with all the foreign travel that she’s doing, she’s not sleeping much at all. You know, it does. Sometimes you are very bothered by something that is before you. You’re worried if there’s an issue where there are really good points on both sides and you’re very torn, or if you are voting on a resolution for war to send our troops into harm’s way, or if you are visiting with our troops. Some of the most rewarding experiences that I ever have are when I’m visiting with our troops – the ones who are on the front lines, boots on the ground – and you think, oh my gosh, they’re so wonderful. And you take this responsibility on your shoulders to make sure that you know that we’re doing everything we can to support them, because they are keeping freedom for our country.
So yes, you do lose sleep. There’s just no question about it. And you, of course, are used to the pressure, but yes, there are issues and there are experiences that will keep you awake at night. And I don’t think anyone who’s had a position where you’re making decisions that affect the lives and freedoms that we hold dear, I don’t think anyone would ever say that they just go to sleep every night and never think about it again.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s absolutely true. I was a Senator from New York on 9/11, and it was the most searing, horrible experience of my life. Because I was a senator, on September 12th, the day after, I and my fellow senator were flown to New York to begin the process of evaluating what we were going to have to do to try to recover and respond. And we were flown by the government and we were – other than the fighters –
SENATOR HUTCHISON: The airports were closed.
SECRETARY CLINTON: What?
SENATOR HUTCHISON: They had shut down the --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Everything was shut down. You could not get in and out of Manhattan except – we couldn't in those early days at all. Nothing went in or out.
SENATOR HUTCHISON: For four days.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The airports were shut down. So we were the only civilian passengers. It was a military plane, but we were the only plane other than the fighters who were putting the air CAPs around New York in the air. And I was just flying over the horror of the World Trade Center that was still burning and watching the firefighters try to struggle with that while they were looking for all of their lost comrades. It was just a searing, terrible experience.
So for much of my career in the Senate, I was really focused on helping the people I represented recover, the families who’d lost loved ones, the grievously injured, and then being very concerned about what we were going to do to try to prevent anything like that ever happening anywhere in America again.
And as Secretary of State, I spend a lot of my time worrying about all of this on a global scale now. And it is – it is very difficult and challenging. I’m part of a small group of people in the government who get the most sensitive intelligence, and trying to figure what we do, what the right thing to do is, making decisions after careful and prayerful thought, and then knowing that you can be right or you can wrong, no matter how hard you try to be right, that you can also be right in the short-term and have consequences that will come back to cause problems.
It is one of the responsibilities of leadership, and it is one that I know Kay and I take very seriously. And I think it is somewhat lonely and isolating to have to think about what we are facing in many instances. But it’s also a privilege to do it on behalf of either our states or our country. And I don’t know anyone who has been in these positions who hasn’t tried to do his or her best. You can disagree with someone, you can feel they’re a hundred percent wrong, but it’s been my experience that the vast majority of people are trying to act in good faith and make the best decisions they can. And we – none of us is perfect and we are just going to continue to move forward in our – under our Constitution and our laws, and hope that we’ll be more right than wrong.
MS. CAMPOS: You know, we have a lot of young women here with us today. And I once read that doubt was the killer of dreams. Are there ever any moments where you may have felt the demon of insecurity creep into your mind, into your psyche? And if and when that happens, where do you draw your strength?
SENATOR HUTCHISON: Absolutely. I think that is something that girls especially have been afflicted with, the self-doubt, the not being sure. We had not grown up taking the risks. And so I think that anyone who says they’ve never had self-doubt is not being honest. However, with experience I have learned that I absolutely can do anything. And preparation is the most important of all of the lessons I’ve learned. If you are prepared, you will be able to do any job that you are seeking or any situation in which you find yourself.
I found a great inspiration from Ruth Simmons. Ruth is the first African American woman to be the head of an Ivy League institution, and she’s the president of Brown. And I interviewed her for my book as a leader in education, as a woman who broke barriers, and she said something to me that I thought was so interesting. She grew up in a sharecropper’s family of 12 children and she went to the same high school that Barbara Jordan did in Houston, which was – it was a high school in the Third Ward and there was no encouragement for her. But she had something in her that said: “I can do this.” If Barbara Jordan could do it, I can do it.
And she prepared herself and she found that when she talked, at first people wouldn’t be listening, and then they’d start listening because she was – she was so good and she had so prepared herself, that she ended up going to Harvard and she majored in romance languages. (Laughter.) And I was just so impressed with her. But she did it with her own determination to be prepared and to win people over on substance. And that’s something that I think is the best lesson that we can all learn, that if you are actually saying something that matters, it doesn’t what you look like or what their first impressions are, you can prevail in any circumstance. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, when Kay said that these questions about doubt and insecurity often afflict women and young women, I could not agree more. And part of that comes from a desire to be perfect in an imperfect world. And a lot of young women I know who want to take on risks and meet challenges discourage themselves because they can’t be the best the first time out of the gate. You really have to prepare. And you have to get knocked down, and you have to pick yourself up, and you have to keep going. And the idea of preparation reminds of that old saying, fail – plan, plan to fail. And yet it’s only through experience that you really attain the judgment and the awareness of yourself as an actor in the world that gives you that confidence and helps you ride through the doubts and meet the insecurities head-on. So there’s no shortcut for it.
The Ruth Simmons story is a good one. She is a great example. But there are millions of examples like that we may not know. Sitting in this audience, there are many examples like that. And I think it’s important to realize that you are going to make mistakes, and you just have to accept that and prepare the very best you can, and be willing to put yourself out there if you want to be a leader.
Certainly, I know as well as anyone that you’re not always going to be met with universal acclaim or approval. But if you believe that what you’re doing is what you want to do in your life and that you’re making a contribution, then you have to decide whether you’re going to give up or soldier on. And I’m really hoping that young women, particularly get that message. Having practiced law and having now served in the Senate and in this new position, I’m always amazed at how some people are totally confident despite the evidence as to their performance. (Laughter and Applause.)
I’ll just end with this one story. I was in a big meeting at the State Department and there was a woman making a presentation. And we had sat through a number of presentations, and there were only a very few women and most of the presenters were men. And this woman was filling her words with, “Well, you know, it’s my opinion,” or, “I may not be right but,” or, “I’m not sure this is exactly what we should do,” and all of those qualifying and undercutting comments that are particularly common in women’s language.
And what she had to say was really smart and very good. And when she finished, I said, “That was really terrific. I think you made some very good points.” She goes, “Well, I’m not sure.” I said, “Take the compliment.” (Laughter.) And I think we have to sort of encourage young women to have the merit that they can be judged by, but then to match it with a presentation and the confidence that can enhance people’s understanding of how good you really are. And that’s one thing I hope that is being drilled into the young women at the all-women’s school here.
MS. CAMPOS: Okay. So we are talking about leadership then. So when did you come to that “ah-ha” moment, when you realized, hey, I can do this? I can meet my lofty leadership goals and actually exceed them, probably. When did you come to that “ah-ha” moment?
SENATOR HUTCHISON: Well, I think the ah-ha moment is probably the first election that you win – (laughter) – and there are a lot of surprised people, and for me it was the state legislature. And so that’s the first time you think, oh my gosh, I can really do it. But the first sense of accomplishment is when you pass a bill that you know is going to make a difference in people’s lives. That’s when you have the most fulfillment, I would say.
MS. CAMPOS: Ah-ha moment?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let’s see. I had an ah-ha moment that I wasn’t going to be the Democratic nominee for the presidency of the United States. (Laughter.) That’s a kind of different ah-ha moment. (Laughter.) And I think that it is hard to have an ah-ha moment because you work so hard to get there. It is such an ordeal when you are running for that first office and you get into the position, and then the hard part starts. You think the campaign is hard, and then you get the job and that’s even harder. But they go along the way.
And for me, it’s always an opportunity to see how far I can go in getting something done that I care a lot about, or challenging a particular viewpoint or ideology that I disagree with. And so it’s not only the – in fact, I think it’s lesser the position of leadership that you attain than how you use it that gives you the ah-ha moments, like, oh, I really learned something and I can apply it the next time. And so you’re constantly challenging yourself to really make something out of this position that you’ve been honored to have.
SENATOR HUTCHISON: Good point. I didn’t mean to interrupt.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Go ahead.
SENATOR HUTCHISON: I think the most incredible thing I saw in you during this period was your ability to keep a happy face, a confident face, when you were getting so many disappointments. (Applause.) It was amazing. That is your ah-ha moment. And it’s the hardest thing for us to do is to just be completely devastated and never let it show on your face. And that’s what you did, and it’s a great example for everyone – men and women, boys and girls – that you can keep on going. And because you did, you’re Secretary of State. It was that incredible ability to lose, get over it, help the president of your party win, and put your heart into it, which you did. And that character is why you’re Secretary of State today for the United States. (Cheers and Applause.)
MS. CAMPOS: What have been some of the – or most fond experience that you’ve had? You mentioned meeting with some of the troops, but can you pinpoint a memory there in particular that brings you just good feelings that you’re in the right place at the right time?
SENATOR HUTCHISON: I’ll just tell you a quick story, and it happened just last week. I went to Brooke Army Medical Center, where the burn victims and the people who have lost limbs in our armed services go. And I went into a room to visit with a sergeant who lost his legs on February the ninth of this year. This is last week.
So for five weeks, his whole life has been turned upside down, from being a soldier out in the field to sitting in his bed with no legs from here down. And he’s sitting there with his wife and his seven-year-old daughter, and I said – you know, I was talking to him, and he said, “I’m going back, Senator.” And I was taking a breath, and his darling wife piped in and she said, “Well, honey, you’re not going to Iraq. They’ve got your feet and they’re not getting anything else.” (Laughter.)
Now, for five weeks they have had this experience and this change in their lives, and they have that kind of spirit and determination and upbeat positive attitude. And those are the memories that are the best and the most awe-inspiring that I could ever have. It just shows you why America’s going to win, because we’re the best. Because we’re the best. (Applause.)
MS. CAMPOS: Senator – Secretary. Madame Secretary, I was beating myself up. I’m not going to call her Senator Clinton. (Laughter.) Madame Secretary --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, when I was invited to come, I was a senator. So easy to understand. (Laughter.)
For me, having had the extraordinary privilege of being in the White House for eight years with my husband, being in the Senate for eight years, and now having this great privilege, it is these individual stories – not the headlines, but the individual lives that you connect with that make all the difference in the world. And especially if you can connect what you are doing in your public position with the life in front of you, with the story of somebody who needs help and might not otherwise have gotten it unless they came to your attention.
So like Kay, for me, it’s a whole movie of images and stories runs through my head, and many of them connected to the experience after 9/11, both in New York and then as I traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq and met with troops and went to the fort that we have up in northern New York which is the home of the 10th Mountain Division, and all of these stories.
But one story that I would share, because there are literally thousands – we could keep you here all day --
MS. CAMPOS: We’d love it. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we didn’t hear a lot about the people who were severely injured after 9/11 because there weren’t very many survivors. Either you got out or you died. And so there were not very many. The hospitals were all ready to take hundreds and hundreds of people who’d been injured, but there weren’t very many.
There was a young woman on her way to a business meeting. She didn’t work in one of the towers, but she was on her way to a business meeting. And out of one of – and one of those incredible random acts from the universe happened. When the first plane hit and it exploded, but it also broke apart, a piece of the landing gear fell and crushed this young woman’s pelvis. And I went to visit her a couple of days after 9/11. I went to the hospital to see as many of the people that I could.
And she was fine from the waist up, but was in both terrible pain and looking toward dozens of operations, none of which could be guaranteed as giving her back her mobility. And she was a really attractive young woman, had long hair which in the hospital she had pulled back in a braid. And standing by her bedside was her fiancée, and they had been scheduled to be married in a few months’ time from the date of the attacks.
They had such an incredible spirit about them, and I felt very heartened by that, but I knew what a long road lay ahead of her. And I kept in touch with her, and she went from hospital to hospital because some hospitals could do the particular surgery she needed but then another didn’t have the specialty so she had to move.
So about five years later, she called me up and she said, “We’re going to get married. Will you come to the wedding?” I said, “Absolutely, I will be at your wedding.” She still couldn't walk very well, but she worked so hard to walk down the aisle. And waiting at the end was that same young man who had been through all of this with her. And during the course of those years, I and my staff had to intervene about medical benefits and we had to intervene about other kinds of worker comp and other things that she needed to keep going and being able to survive these years in and out of hospitals.
But it was all worth it. All of the problems you face in public life and all of the misunderstandings and the accusations and everything that comes when you’re in the public eye, you just don’t even worry about it when you see somebody who’s been so courageous and such a great sense of grace facing up to what life has handed her, and knowing you had maybe a small, tiny role in helping her get to the moment. And that makes it all worthwhile. (Applause.)
MS. CAMPOS: Well, as I mentioned, I’d love to be here with you both for all day, but I know that you all have busy schedules. One last question that I hope that will help these young ladies who still have a whole lifetime ahead of themselves. What would you tell your 21-year-old self? Something. What would you tell yourself now that you’ve had this life experience? What would you tell yourself?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That you never know how life is going to turn out. (Laughter.) I think young people believe that somehow they can plan their lives or predict the outcomes of one step leading to another. And anyone who’s lived long enough knows that, and Kay and I have shared today – I’m not sure that anyone we knew growing up or who knew us, or even our own thoughts would have projected us to this stage and these positions at this time. But I would tell her that she should just make the most out of every day. I mean, it sounds so obvious, but it is the best lesson that you can try to convince a young person who thinks he or she is immortal and can’t imagine that just that one day is going to make such a difference.
But certainly for me, I feel more strongly than ever that life is such a gift, and we make what we will of it. Some of it is not in our control, but a lot of it is, particularly how you respond, whether you’re sitting in a hospital bed at Brooke Medical Center or in a New York hospital after something like losing your legs in Iraq or being crushed by an airplane part. What you make of it and how you decide you’re going to live your life under whatever circumstances you face, and change if you can those that you think are bringing you down, is really the lesson I would try to impart to her.
And for years, I have been influenced by a phrase in a book that I read, oh, I don’t know, about ten or twelve years ago: the discipline of gratitude. And it was written by a Catholic priest about the parable of the prodigal son. And in it, he talks about how people discipline their bodies – at least some people do – Kay works out every day, don’t ask me. (Laughter.) And discipline your eating and discipline all these other things, but you can also practice a discipline of being grateful. And I have found in some very challenging times that practicing that particular discipline gives me just a sense of peace and grace that keeps me going. I don’t know if I could convince my 21-year-old self of that, but that’s what I would try to do. (Applause.)
MS. CAMPOS: Senator, what would you try to do?
SENATOR HUTCHISON: Well, the saying that I would tell my 21-year-old self is that life is a journey, not a destination. Because the destination is the end, and it’s what you do all along the way that really matters. And it’s really what Senator – Secretary Clinton said. (Laughter.) But you should not be so anxious to get to the next thing that you really miss the opportunity to learn from experience and to do all the things that are important for a full life. And it’s hard when you’re 21 and you think you should be the CEO or the senator right then.
MS. CAMPOS: Or the next Barbara Walters.
SENATOR HUTCHISON: Right. That’s right. Or Barbara Walters. And I think that preparing and having the experience you need to do the job is very important. I’ve found that people who were in the legislature who were too young never went further than the legislature. And so don’t try to do something too soon. Prepare yourself, get life experience, and then you will do better in whatever jobs you’re going to do. And so just chill. (Laughter.) Which I didn’t do, so I’m telling you. (Inaudible.)
MS. CAMPOS: Well, I can tell you that as a 21-year-old I would never dream that I would be sitting with the both of you, and it has been my privilege to be your moderator today and to hopefully answer some of the questions for you all that you wanted to hear of these women that we all so much admire and respect. So thank you so much for your time. (Applause.)