Sep 7, 2022
Person to Person with Norah O’Donnell: Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Transcript
O’Donnell sits down with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton ahead of their new Apple TV + series, “Gutsy.” Read the transcript here.
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Norah O’Donnell: (00:00)
Hi, I’m Norah O’Donnell and this is Person to Person. Our guests tonight are secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton. Hillary and Chelsea Clinton have spent decades in the public eye as First Lady and First Daughter. Hillary as Senator, secretary of state and the first female presidential candidate of a major party. Now, the mother-daughter duo is setting out on a new adventure.
Thank you. Thank you.
Norah O’Donnell: (00:27)
Through the Apple TV+ docu-series Gutsy, based on their book, The Book of Gutsy Women, Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience. They’re joined by famous guests like Megan Thee Stallion, Amy Schumer and Gloria Steinem to talk about what it means to be gutsy. We start our intimate, Person to Person conversation with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton at Katz’s Deli in New York City. Congratulations on the docu-series.
We are so excited.
Norah O’Donnell: (01:11)
What made you want to do this?
Well, we had so much fun working on The Book of Gutsy Women together, which really was a labor of love and also the continuation of a conversation we’ve been having my whole life. Because while it may not be obvious to moms and hopefully some dads too, that women role models are important. When I was a little girl, my mom was so consciously bringing women into my life and so we just talked about inspiring women. And then we decided to write a book about inspiring, gutsy women and then that was so fun. And then we had the opportunity to make this series. And we said, “Yes.” And it just was a great adventure. We’d never done anything like this.
Exactly. What did you do during COVID?
We made this series.
Apple TV+ series. And it was such a joy because part of the inspiration, in addition to our lifelong conversation, is both Chelsea and I have been out around the country doing different things. And people, especially young women and young girls, sometimes ask us, “Well, who inspired you?” And so when we wrote the book, we wanted to not just highlight women who had done amazing things, but women who also tried to knock down barriers and open doors for others who made a difference in their community.
In that though then gave us the chance, Norah, to meet so many women whose stories we didn’t know. And now whose stories, I think we’re so grateful that we are familiar with and that we’ve been able to share.
Norah O’Donnell: (02:38)
How would you describe a gutsy woman?
I think a gutsy woman is determined to make the most of her own life, but also to try to use whatever skills, talents, persistence that she has to bring others along.
And that you can do it in any field or in any area. So whether that’s kind of sports or activism or the arts, it was really important to us that there be a wide spectrum of women who have been hugely gutsy for themselves and for their communities.
Norah O’Donnell: (03:11)
But do you think people like gutsy women?
I think some people like gutsy women, I think some people are afraid and threatened by gutsy women. I think some are put off by gutsy women.
Norah O’Donnell: (03:25)
So each episode has a theme. Let’s start with gutsy women refuse hate. You said that the women in this episode made you hopeful. Why?
I was taken aback when the Apple TV+ team came and said we have a woman who used to be a white supremacist and we think it would be incredible to have you and Chelsea go interviewer her because for the last number of years, she’s been trying to deprogram others who are into Neo-Nazism and really severe nationalism, as well as white supremacy. I thought, “This is going to be interesting.” One of the most extraordinary women who, herself, had gone through this period in her life, where she was alive with hate and with those who were practicing hate and got herself out of it, and then decided she was going to try to help others.
Norah O’Donnell: (04:25)
I was struck by her explanation about why hateful rhetoric can be so intoxicating. She says in the episode, “How trauma causes people to view the world as a dangerous and threatening place and then millions or billions of dollars are spent exploiting those fears.” As someone who ran for office, did that resonate with you?
It really resonated with me. I think what Shannon so importantly highlighted is that people come to hate and fear because they go hand in hand in part because of what’s happened to them. And there are a lot of women who have been emotionally abused, who have been rejected by their families because maybe they were gay or trans or whatever the explanation might be. And they then become very vulnerable to, frankly, people who spot that vulnerability, as was the case with Shannon, and exploited.
Norah O’Donnell: (05:26)
There seems to be an undercurrent of a message throughout this whole series that you’re trying to show women, tell women to be gutsy, to stand up for yourself and focus on and highlight, spotlight women who are doing just that in the face of a lot of hate.
And also Norah, with the hope that those women’s examples can be inspiring to anyone who might be watching, men and boys. But I think also so that people hopefully can see part of their own life, whether their own struggles, their own opportunities in the women’s stories that we’re sharing so that they hopefully can then be a little bit closer to feeling like, “Well, I can be gutsy too.”
Norah O’Donnell: (06:13)
One of the gutsy women that you interview is Megan Thee Stallion. Have you really listened to her music?
Ask her, did she really listen to it before the Apple TV+ series?
No, the answer is no, but you did.
I did, but my mother did all her homework, Norah.
Norah O’Donnell: (06:29)
What did you like about her?
I liked several things about her. I thought she was unapologetic in the way that she claimed her sexual being.
I’ve gotten back into painting. It makes me calm. And I was trying to please everybody and make everybody else happy. I was losing myself, I felt like. So I just had to remember who I was and I had to start spending a little bit more time by myself to just get back into me.
And then actually when we interviewed her, she is so together in the episode, we did whatever our subjects wanted to do. And in her case, one of the ways she relaxes is by painting. So we spent a couple of hours painting and talking. What she wants to do is eventually help people have better options as they grow older. So while she’s out there rapping, she’s also getting an advanced degree in public health administration. And when she graduated, I saw a picture on Twitter with her in her cap and gown getting her degree. I tweeted, “Well, good for you.” So the multiplicity of any woman’s life is something I think to be both recognized and even celebrated.
We don’t think that any woman should just shut up and sing or shut up and play sports to put it mildly.
Norah O’Donnell: (07:53)
Well, there’s an episode with Amy Schumer, where you’re sitting having tea although you’re drinking coffee.
I am, all the time.
Norah O’Donnell: (08:02)
And she talks about how women are supposed to be sweet.
We want you to be pretty and quiet and effusive and…
Only a supporting cast member.
Norah O’Donnell: (08:14)
That still exists. Do you think that?
I think it absolutely still exists. And I think that we are living in a moment of intense backlash against not only women, but candidly like anyone who’s not a cisgendered, white, heterosexual man who believes that we should have and hold and demonstrate and use power.
Norah O’Donnell: (08:36)
I didn’t realize that until I watched your series that child marriage is still legal in 44 states.
That’s amazing, isn’t it?
And look where we are right now with the reversal of Roe V. Wade. You have grown people, a lot of men, as well as a few women saying, “What’s wrong with a 10 year old having a baby or a 12 year old who’s been raped having a baby? It’s probably good for her to have that baby.”
Or a woman my age who has an ectopic pregnancy. And they’re like, “Well maybe you are going to be the one.”
Out of a billion.
Out of ever in all of human history where maybe that pregnancy will turn into a viable human instead of actually a death sentence.
Norah O’Donnell: (09:16)
But for many women, this is also the fulfillment of their works, which is an anti-abortion movement. And they feel like they have succeeded.
I am a pro-life choice advocate and there are different ways to define life. And to have laws that only address one choice, no exceptions for rape, incest, health of the mother, life of the mother. That is not pro-life. And so they have adopted this slogan that unfortunately is just not true.
Norah O’Donnell: (09:53)
How do you think this plays out in the midterm elections?
The early evidence, especially with the Kansas vote, is that women whose life experiences have taught us that there are unpredictable events in life and we need to have autonomy and agency to make the right choices for us, have turned out in big numbers in Kansas and now registering to vote.
We’re seeing not only women registering to vote in higher percentages, effectively everywhere. And we’re seeing evidence of that. And thankfully, we’re seeing fathers also say, “I wasn’t really paying attention to this issue. This is now really material issue for me because it’s going to affect maybe my wife still, but certainly my children.”
The other thing I want to add about this, all the people who’ve been working so hard for so many years to overturn Roe V. Wade and at many of the states with the most restrictive laws do not have adequate prenatal care, do not have adequate maternal care. So where is the campaign to ensure universal healthcare so that every woman who is pregnant is taken care of? Where is the campaign for affordable quality childcare? Where is the campaign for paid leave? Those are always overlooked or frankly opposed.
Norah O’Donnell: (11:17)
Are you criticizing your own party by saying where’s the campaign for that?
No, how many times have we put up early childhood and paid leave and Medicaid expansion. But it’s states governed by Republican governors and legislatures who have made a decision that they want women who get pregnant to stay pregnant and have a forced birth, but good luck getting healthcare. Good luck getting childcare. Good luck getting paid leave. You’re on your own.
Norah O’Donnell: (11:43)
You highlight so many women who are unapologetic, but you can’t run for office and be unapologetic.
Not yet, no. Now men can be, because we just had a president who was, who never admitted a mistake, who never accepted responsibility.
Even as we were having a pandemic killing thousands of Americans a day at a time.
Norah O’Donnell: (12:02)
But President Trump says he created the vaccines and he deserves credit for that.
Well, you know what, he did. He did launch a program that was very operation, and if he’d had a professional, acceptable response to the rest of the pandemic, not telling people to drink bleach and the other stuff that he did, I think…
Be willing to wear a mask, consistently.
And nearly die and getting out of the hospital to drive around so that people could see that he was still alive.
He cared more about public health in his own performance.
He would’ve gotten credit that the government that he was currently [inaudible 00:12:47] deserved.
Norah O’Donnell: (12:47)
You also reveal why you wear a pants suit.
I didn’t know that story. It’s like by far and away the greatest revelation I had during this whole, other than your [inaudible 00:12:59]
Norah O’Donnell: (12:58)
I think pants suits are synonymous with…
I didn’t know that she’d had that. Deep invasion of privacy.
My first experience was when I was first lady and I was in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, on a state visit with my husband and I was sitting on a couch and the press was let in and there were a bunch of them shooting up. And all of a sudden the White House gets alerted to these billboards that show me sitting down with, I thought my legs together, but the way it’s shot, it’s sort of suggestive. And then I also began to have the experience of having photographers all the time. I’d be on a stage, I’d be climbing stairs and they’d be below me.
I just couldn’t deal with it. So I went [inaudible 00:13:51]
Norah O’Donnell: (13:51)
What’s the gutsiest thing you’ve ever done?
I think maybe the gutsiest thing I’ve ever done was just getting up and leading my life as a kid when it wasn’t always easy, Norah. Whether in Arkansas or in the White House, whether it was just ongoing daily public scrutiny or at times intense public scrutiny over our family’s life and just being determined to lead my own life because ultimately I think that’s the gutsiest thing any of us can do.
Norah O’Donnell: (14:18)
Coming up, on Person to Person, we sit down with Secretary Clinton. And it may surprise you to hear what she says is the gutsiest thing she’s ever done. Why’d you choose the word gutsy?
I love the word gutsy. And when Chelsea and I were writing the book, we were talking one day and said, “Well, what are we going to call it?” And it just kind of came to both of us, The Book of Gutsy Women.
Norah O’Donnell: (14:47)
What’s the gutsiest thing you’ve ever done?
The gutsiest thing I ever did privately was stay in my marriage. It was not easy and it was something that only I could decide. And then in my public life running for president, it was hard. It was really hard and it was trying to be on that tight rope without a net and nobody in front of me because it hadn’t been done before.
Norah O’Donnell: (15:13)
I guess I was surprised that you said that staying in your marriage was gutsier than running for president.
Well, it was in terms of my private life. It was really hard. And as you know, everybody had an opinion about it. People who I’d never met had very strong opinions about it. And it took a lot of, honestly, prayer and thoughtfulness and talking to people I totally trusted to really think through because it was all being done in public, Norah. So it made it even more painful and difficult, but I have no regrets.
Norah O’Donnell: (15:53)
There’s a whole episode about love where you talk about this. And someone says, “And sometimes it’s harder to accept being loved than to give love.”
I think that’s really profound. And we wanted to do a whole episode on love and the choices women make and how hard it can be because when you really come down to it, what do you think about the most in your life? What do you talk to your friends about? What do you talk to your kids about?
Norah O’Donnell: (16:24)
Norah O’Donnell: (16:26)
In the conversation with the reverend and about your marriage, you said, “There are times that telling is crueler than not telling. Secrets sometimes need to be disclosed and sometimes they don’t.” Do you wish that you hadn’t known about his affair?
I can’t turn the clock back. My reality is what happened to me, but I do know of cases where somebody felt compelled to share a secret and it shattered a family. And sometimes you don’t want to live dishonesty or inauthentically, but sometimes it is a mark of maturity to know when to speak up and when not to.
Norah O’Donnell: (17:11)
Are there enough gutsy women in politics?
Well, there are women who think they’re gutsy because they say outrageous things, do outrageous things and foster a sense of performance and kind of entertainment and don’t do the work. And then there are a lot of women now in politics who I admire, who get up every day and do their job, whether it’s being a mayor, a governor, a member of Congress, our vice president. They are trying to be as gutsy as they can in fulfilling the responsibilities of the jobs that they have. And so I think everybody has a choice to make. And as a woman in politics or a woman in government, you are being judged all the time and you have to, at the end of the day, do what you believe is right for the people who’ve entrusted you with the job you have.
Norah O’Donnell: (18:09)
Have you watched any of the January 6th hearings?
I’ve watched all of the January 6th hearings and I’m really proud of that committee. Liz Cheney and her only other Republican colleague, there are only two of them on the committee, are doing a great service to our country and to our democracy and the other Democrats, who I’ve watched question the witnesses. There’s three things I would quickly say about it. One, it had to happen.
Norah O’Donnell: (18:34)
The committees [inaudible 00:18:36]
Had to happen. You had to pull this out into the light of day. Secondly, they have performed extraordinarily well. They have presented evidence in a coherent way that people can follow. And third, I want to give a real shout out to the witnesses. The most powerful witnesses are people who were in that White House, who did not want to have to testify, did not want to be put on the public stage to say what they knew, but came forward.
Norah O’Donnell: (19:06)
Many of them have been young women.
Young women and that goes to a point about being a gutsy woman. The couple of young women who have come forward out of the Trump White House, they have been vilified. They had to have known that they were going to be criticized, but I give them enormous credit for speaking the truth and doing the right thing.
Norah O’Donnell: (19:27)
What’s your takeaway about the January 6th committee and Donald Trump’s actions?
I would not be honest if I didn’t say, I think there was a seditious conspiracy against the government of the United States. And that’s a crime.
Norah O’Donnell: (19:42)
Led by Donald Trump.
Led by Donald Trump, encouraged by Donald Trump. I was the Secretary of State. I spent many days on airplanes flying from place to place, encouraging people to have a real democracy. And one of the hallmarks of a real democracy is the peaceful transfer of power. Was I happy when I beat Donald Trump by nearly 3 million votes, but lost the electoral college? No, I was not happy. Did I even for a nanosecond, think I’m going to claim victory and try to get the Democrats to refuse to certify the election? No.
Norah O’Donnell: (20:17)
Would you ever run for president again?
No, but I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that we have a president who respects our democracy and the rule of law and upholds our institutions.
Norah O’Donnell: (20:28)
What if Donald Trump runs again?
He should be soundly defeated. It should start in the Republican party. Grow a backbone. Stand up to this guy. And heaven forbid if he gets the nomination, he needs to be defeated roundly and sent back to Mar-a-Lago.
Norah O’Donnell: (20:42)
We’re out of time, Secretary Clinton. Thank you.
Thank you, Norah.
Norah O’Donnell: (20:46)
Coming up, we sit down with Chelsea Clinton and ask her if she’ll ever run for public office. What did you learn from working on this series?
I learned so much about the women that we interviewed and I also learned at least a little bit about my mom and about me. And those were probably the unexpected gifts of working on this series, alongside meeting these amazing women. Just learning about my mom from the story she shared earlier of why she wears pants suits something I didn’t know. To learning, once again, how funny she is. To learning kind of how curious she is and how that curiosity always comes with kindness. So sometimes things I’d known, but found in a deeper sense and then things I hadn’t known and that made it all the more special and experienced.
Norah O’Donnell: (21:41)
What’s the gutsiest thing you think your mom has ever done?
I think the gutsiest thing my mom has ever done was to run president again. I know that she probably would have given you and may have given you a different answer, but certainly from what I observed, that was the gutsiest thing that I felt like I saw her do.
Norah O’Donnell: (21:58)
How much of being gutsy is experiencing failure?
I think that persevering through failure so not only experiencing it and being kind of tsunami by it, but experiencing it, kind of hopefully understanding it, kind of pushing through it is a part of life. And I think an inevitable part of being gutsy of having not only the courage of your convictions and your purpose on this planet, but to be able to use that purpose, to persevere over the inevitable failures that come all of our way.
Norah O’Donnell: (22:37)
Do you want your mom to run for office again?
I want my mom to do what she wants to do. And I mean that really sincerely because I think to run for president or city council, school board, state legislature, kind of whatever office you may feel called toward, you have to both want that job and have a vision of what you do with that job. And so if she wouldn’t want the job, I don’t want her to run again. And if she’d want the job, I’d do everything I could to help elect her.
Norah O’Donnell: (23:04)
What about you running for office?
I don’t have any plans to run for office.
Norah O’Donnell: (23:08)
What do you want people to take away from gutsy women?
I want people to take away that there are so many different ways to be gutsy, there are as many ways as there are women in the series or kind of any and everyone who may watch it or wouldn’t watch it. And then to think about these women as hopefully moments of kind of inspiration, reasons to persist through. I think about women that I didn’t know until we embarked on this series, like the amazing women of the New York City Fire Department or Katrina Brownlee, former NYPD detective. And those stories stay with me and give me courage and hope a little bit more gutsiness.
Norah O’Donnell: (23:46)
Well, thank you so much for your time.
Thank you, Nora.