SUMMARY: As Hillary Clinton prepares to accept the Democratic nomination for president, two biographers look back at her growth as a politician. Mark Lander, who wrote "Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power," and Michael Tomasky, who wrote "Hillary's Turn: Inside Her Improbable, Victorious Senate Campaign,” join Hari Sreenivasan.
HARI SREENIVASAN, NEWSHOUR ANCHOR: Approaching 69 years old, Hillary Clinton has spent roughly half of her life in public life — as First Lady of Arkansas and the United States; as a U.S. Senator from New York, and perhaps most importantly for the office she seeks — as Secretary of State. And, from the investigation of the Clintons’ investment in the Whitewater real estate deal in Arkansas to the more recent FBI probe of her use of private email server while serving as Secretary of State, the whiff of scandal has lingered – fairly or unfairly – over many chapters in Mrs. Clinton’s career.
As we head into the Democratic National Convention on Monday, opinion polls continue to reflect that Hillary Clinton is, to some extent like her Republican opponent, a polarizing figure. She has topped the annual Gallup poll of “most admired woman” each of the last 14 years and 20 times overall. However, the Real Clear Politics average of polls finds 56 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of her, and 62 percent of Americans told a CBS news poll last month they do not find her honest or trustworthy.
To examine her record of service as First Lady, in the Senate, and at the State Department, I sat down this week with the authors of two books about Hillary Clinton. Michael Tomasky wrote “Hillary’s Turn: Inside Her Improbable, Victorious Senate Campaign,” and New York Times White House correspondent Mark Landler wrote “Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the twilight struggle over American power.”
HARI SREENIVASAN: Back in 1992, Bill Clinton said, “You’re going to get two for the price of one.” She’s going to be part of my policies. Was head of the health care reform task force; it didn’t do well in Congress. What’s her lasting legacy from that era?
MICHAEL TOMASKY, AUTHOR: She was the first professional First Lady, the first feminist First Lady, the first First Lady from the ‘60s generation, the first First Lady who was the breadwinner in the family. A lot of America liked and admired that. Some other parts of America found that unappetizing and even kind of threatening. So she became a flashpoint simply for who she was.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Picking up on that women’s rights theme, one of the things that she did was in ’95, she famously spoke out.
HILLARY CLINTON: “It is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.”
MARK LANDLER, NEW YORK TIMES: If you remember, it was right after the health care debacle. So she goes to Beijing, delivers this by all accounts just fervent speech; and even to this day many years later, it’s probably in the top five, if not the top three speeches she’s ever delivered. And it also really was the speech that catapulted her onto the global stage and kind of set the stage for the next chapter of her career, which was as a sort of a global figure, a global stateswoman.