Hillary Clinton's Memoir and More From Washington

Monday, June 16, 2014

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to guests at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on June 13, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The CGI was established in 2005 by former President Clinton. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to guests at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on June 13, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty)

Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today, talks about her interview with Hillary Clinton in which they discussed her new memoir, the upcoming book tour, and the latest rumbles on a presidential run. Plus: the US response to the growing crisis in Iraq.

Transcript of the "Fresh Air" Interview Excerpt we Played on Air

Full interview available on the NPR website.

GROSS: So just to clarify - just one more question on this - would you say your view evolved since the '90s or that the American public evolved allowing you to state your real view?

CLINTON: I think I'm an American. (Laughing) And I think we have all evolved and it's been one of the fastest most sweeping transformations.

GROSS: No, I understand, but a lot of people already believed in it back the '90s. A lot of people already supported gay marriage.

CLINTON: But not - to be fair, Terry, not that many. Yes, were there activists who were ahead of their time? Well, that was true in every human rights and civil rights movement, but the vast majority of Americans were just waking up to this issue and beginning to, you know, think about it and grasp it for the first time. And, you know, think about their neighbor down the street who deserved to have the same rights as they did or their son or their daughter. It has been an extraordinarily fast - by historic terms - social, political and legal transformation. And we ought to celebrate that instead of plowing old ground, where in fact a lot of people, the vast majority of people, have been moving forward - maybe slowly, maybe tentatively, maybe not as quickly and extensively as many would have hoped, but nevertheless we are at a point now where equality, including marriage equality, in our country, is solidly established. Although there will be places.

GROSS: I - I...

CLINTON: Texas, just to name one, where that is still going to be an ongoing struggle.

GROSS: I'm pretty sure you didn't answer my question about whether you evolved or it was the American public that changed (Laughing).

CLINTON: I said I'm an American, so of we all evolved. And I think that that's a fair, you know, that's a fair conclusion.

GROSS: So you're saying your opinion on gay marriage changed as opposed to you - you just felt it was comfortable...

CLINTON: You know, somebody is always first, Terry. Somebody's always out front and thank goodness they are. But that doesn't mean that those who joined later in being publicly supportive or even privately accepting that there needs to be change are any less committed. You could not be having the sweep of marriage equality across our country if nobody changed their mind. And thank goodness so many of us have.

GROSS: So that's one for you changed your mind? (Laughing).

CLINTON: You know, I really - I have to say, I think you are very persistent, but you are playing with my words and playing with what is such an important issue.

GROSS: I am just trying to clarify so I can understand.

CLINTON: No, I don't think you are trying to clarify. I think you're trying to say that, you know, I used to be opposed and now I'm in favor and I did it for political reasons. And that's just flat wrong. So let me just state what I feel like you are implying and repudiate it. I have a strong record. I have a great commitment to this issue and I am proud of what I've done and the progress we're making.

GROSS: You know, I'm just saying - I'm sorry - I just want to clarify what I was saying - no, I was saying that you maybe really believed this all along, but - you know, believed in gay marriage all along, but felt for political reasons America wasn't ready yet and you couldn't say it. That's what I was thinking.

CLINTON: No. No, that is not true.


CLINTON: I did not grow up even imagining gay marriage and I don't think you probably did either. This was an incredibly new and important idea that people on the front lines of the gay rights movement began to talk about and slowly but surely convinced others of the rightness of that position. And when I was ready to say what I said, I said it.

GROSS: OK, thank you for clarifying that.



Susan Page

Comments [59]

Jenny from Larchmont

This is totally overblown, and I can only think it's the "catfight" angle. OOOOO Hillary and Terri got testy, wow! Pretty dramatic for NPR but it still can't hold a candle to Sunday morning news panels, now THAT'S testy. Get on with it!

Jun. 17 2014 03:07 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

I feel that Hillary Clinton will make a great president. I know that some of you are just showing the typical fear because this country has never gotten a woman president, which is the same for what many gave on Barrack Obama, who became the first black president. Even if Hillary has changed her view on same sex marriage, I don't see why that matters. When it comes to having someone who is centrist, Hillary is the best the Democrats have. BTW, it's already said that Benghazi alone can't kick her off her high horse.

Jun. 16 2014 07:20 PM
CC from NYCC

here is something to turn our stomachs from the Daily mail on Clinton:

Jun. 16 2014 03:16 PM
Ed from Larchmont

It also tells us that same sex marriage (and abortion) are at the top of her platform, and even to hint that she was ever against them - will be greeted with anger.

Jun. 16 2014 02:58 PM

"Never heard a guy get called testy" -- Untrue. The "testiness" of GW Bush the 1st, Romney and McCain bit each where the sun don't shine.

Jun. 16 2014 02:34 PM

Terri seems to be channeling Amy Goodman… you go girl! Truth to power…

Terri is smart, well prepared, sensitive to not being labeled as a lib patsie with a ready agenda -- and undoubtedly staffed w seasoned pros. That said, I'd love to see her like that with all politicians and power brokers, as is BBC's style.

Jun. 16 2014 02:25 PM

"Were there activists who were ahead of their time?" Otherwise known as "True Leadership…" Although IMO the fight is not over until anything can *legally* marry anything. (Yes I'm waiting for the day that corporations can marry one another!)

That said -- if Terry wanted to pick a fight with Clinton she might have chosen a more interesting subject based on her and her husband's decisions, on banking to oil to Iraq to health care. Although, helpfully, were reminded of her annoying "side."

Jun. 16 2014 02:21 PM

If Hillary Rodham Clinton runs for
President of the United States,
I will vote for her.
So far, I don't see any other
candidate that appeals to me
other than Hillary.

Terry Gross was trying to stick
the knife into Hillary in a smiley,
kinda of, innocent looking way.

Hillary wasn't having it and called
Terry Gross on it and I'm glad that
Hillary did just that.

I always turn off NPR when Terry Gross comes on,
just don't like the sound of her voice.

Jun. 16 2014 02:03 PM

Thank God! No vocal fry!

Jun. 16 2014 12:53 PM

What subtle insight can we gain from this:

Jun. 16 2014 12:31 PM

I heard the interview as it happened -- before all the hoo-ha that ensued. I was surprised at the exchange -- how much Terry pushed when it seemed to me Hillary answered her question and then resisted having to say more as though she needed to take responsibility for not saying what Terry wanted her to say. Listening at the time I couldn't figure out what Terry was fishing for -- an admission that HIllary wasn't for gay marriage before she was or that she was for gay marriage but held back going public until the time was politically expedient -- which Hillary rejected. Whatever Terry wasn't satisfied -- she seemed to be waiting for some particular response and she wasn't getting it.

So what if Hillary wasn't a pioneer on gay marriage. In her response, she didn't pretend that she was more forward thinking than she was. She said her position evolved like everyone else's and she made it public when felt comfortable doing so. She can't win -- if she'd said her views were more advance she would have been labeled a hypocrite or worse, a liar saying anything for political advantage. So she said she was a typical American and her views changed and she gets vilified for being evasive or triangulating for political advantage. She's a rorschach test for us all.

Jun. 16 2014 12:22 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Clinton may be Christine Quinn redux: Right time, wrong candidate – given personality, entitlement and, most importantly, connection to a predatory power structure.

Jun. 16 2014 12:15 PM
fuva from harlemworld

A female US president is waaaay overdue. But Clinton may have waaay too much baggage. She bemoans the 'cancer' of income inequality, but doesn't address her husband's complicity in perpetuating it with his economic policies. Doesn't bode well for her.

Jun. 16 2014 12:03 PM

What would be the reaction if Mrs Clinton was queried about this:

Jun. 16 2014 11:22 AM

The closest Hilary Clinton has EVER come to having a firm position on ANYTHING (and when I came closest to having ANY respect for her) was during her Senate testimony on Benghazi when she rebuffed that complete moron "Senator" Ron Johnson.

Unfortunately, the only reason she got so "clear" on this issue is because her State Department career/legacy was at stake and her future presidential aspirations, as well.

Jun. 16 2014 11:11 AM

Clinton(s): The Great Equivocator(s).

"I smoked pot, but didn't inhale."

"I did not have 'sexual relations' with that woman."

"I 'evolved' on gay marriage."

Jun. 16 2014 11:00 AM
Robert from East Brunswick, NJ

Two points:

1.) Brian of all people, you who did tremendous coverage of the 2008 Democratic, and Republican primary should know this, and it is worth revisiting. If anything has been shown about American Presidential politics it has more to do with Rules, than actual vote. I.E. Gore-Bush 2000. If in 2008 the rules for primary voting count has been swapped between Republican and Democrat so that Democrats would have been a winner take all primary, and Republican would have been a proportional vote, the outcome would have been completely different. It would have been Hillary, versus Romney. It is worth having a show to explore this.

2.) As Ross Perot said the media likes to play gotcha politics, and having been battle hardened though her husband's career, and her own, she is extremely careful as not to put anything out that can be shown that she is being hypocritical, and shown that she said something differently in the past. We are looking for perfect human beings to lead us, and our politics reflect that.

Jun. 16 2014 10:42 AM

Ms Gross was doing her job as it has been understood until the Obama "Transformation" of 2008.

Since then the various Regime spokespersons, and President Soetoro, have made it clear that the first answer that is given to the Press is "THE" answer, and it should not be cross-examined or probed - and later examination of those answers in light of current events that make the truth of the administration questionable is the product of invalid motivations (e.g., unyielding partisanship and/or racism).

Mrs Clinton and her sycophants are expecting an equally supine journalistic treatment (and I sure the "other" side will too)

The only question as to Mrs Clinton, and other public servant rulers, is whether interviewers are going to "knuckle under"?

Jun. 16 2014 10:37 AM
GLSanoff from Brooklyn

The thing that both Secretary Clinton's position on Iraq and on gay marriage have in common is that she was wrong at the time it actually mattered. At the point in time that her taking a different stand might have had an impact, she failed. I appreciate her forthrightness in the Teri Gross interview, but at the end of the day, no amount of apologizing or confession to coming around on the issue disguises the fact that when it mattered, she was on the wrong side of the issue. I wouldn't blame her if she seemed defensive, because her cautiousness and her political calculus does not demonstrate particularly impressive leadership and I think she knows it. It's not easy to be wrong and know it, especially for a politician.

Jun. 16 2014 10:33 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Historically, we have only two interests in the Middle East: (1) cheap oil and (2) support of the Jewish state. Those two interests to back to the aftermath of WWI when both oil and zionism arose as major issues, and the US backed both because (a) the oil industry wanted cheap oil to control and sell, and (b) many influential Jews like Brandeis and Frankfurter lobbied for US to support zionism in Palestine.
Besides oil, Israel and keeping terrorists from attacking us, we have no other genuine interests in that region.

Jun. 16 2014 10:31 AM
Alberto from Westchester

I think the problem with Hillary the candidate is that ever since 1998 she has only been seen as a potential "First Female President," and this also includes her own view of herself. When she ran for the Senate it has nothing to do with the people of New York but everything to do with her career aspirations. These are frankly oligarchic pretensions and I think people are through that. Her pain on Iraq and the Patriot Act were thoroughly calculated career moves. This is the same reason Kerry lost the Presidency: people don't see her as standing for anything other than Hillary Clinton. Maybe all politicians are like that, but she's particularly bad at hiding it. Her impatience with the public's reluctance to give her the power she wants is quite visible.

Jun. 16 2014 10:26 AM
Bob from Westchester

Brian: you act surprised that Hillary Clinton gave carefully crafted political answers. Really?? From the team that invented the term "Triangulation" for taking political positions? Stop the presses!!
As for Terry Gross, perhaps you guys could channel her persistent style next time you have Christie/Cuomo/DeBlasio/Silver on, and not let them off the hook with disingenuous non-responses to tough questions.

Jun. 16 2014 10:25 AM
mejimenez from manhattan

Much more important than the gay marriage thing, and at this point even the Iraq vote, is HRC's evaluation of the Snowden leaks as not having had a positive impact.

Jun. 16 2014 10:25 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Calling out of sexist distinctions in the way women politicians are spoken of is not new anymore. And I'm pretty sure "testy" is an equal opportunity description.

Jun. 16 2014 10:25 AM
rJ from prospect hts

"When I was ready to say" can also be heard in the context of how most Americans weren't ready and most Americans even when they agreed had trouble saying it. She (and I'm no Clinton fan; I'm just listening to the parsing) like many may have come to believe in gay marriage but may have been uncomfortable coming forward. She is also a politician so I would not discount that as an additional component but one explanation doesn't discount the other

Jun. 16 2014 10:23 AM
Sadie from Manhattan

I agree with the caller Sarah completely--I think Clinton did answer Terry's question but it wasn't the answer that Terry wanted to hear so Terry laboried the question. It was like they were talking past each other.

Jun. 16 2014 10:22 AM

tes·ty (tĕstē)

adj. tes·ti·er, tes·ti·est
Irritated, impatient, or exasperated; peevish: a testy cab driver; a testy refusal to help.
[Alteration of Middle English testif, headstrong, from Old French testu, from teste, head, from Late Latin testa, skull; see teston.]

testi·ly adv.

testi·ness n.

Word History: To the casual eye testy and heady seem to have no connection; a more thoughtful examination reveals that both words refer to the head. The head in heady is easy to see in both the form and meanings of the word. The earliest sense, first recorded in a work composed before 1382, is "headlong, headstrong," which is clearly a "head" sense; but so is the better-known current sense "apt to go to the head, intoxicating." To see the head in testy, we must look back to the Old French word testu, the source of our word. Testu is derived from the Old French word teste, "head" (Modern French tête). In English testy developed another sense, "aggressive, contentious," which passed into the sense we are familiar with, "irritable."

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright© 2006, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Jun. 16 2014 10:22 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

It's time to evolve even further to end marriage altogether, and produce babies in hatcheries instead and free our species of this whole burden of "family" which has mostly become meaningless anyway. Kids are mostly cared for by the government paid educational system till age 18, and old people are mostly cared for by the government after age 80 and in many cases much sooner. Might as well go all the way.

Jun. 16 2014 10:21 AM
steve from Manhattan

In this age of "swift boating", no politician can afford to utter in front of any microphone the words "I was wrong" or "I made a mistake". While it may satisfy that specific question on that specific issue, It virtually guarantees that these words will be taken out of context and distorted to be used against you later on…

Jun. 16 2014 10:21 AM

What did you believe and when did you believe it?

err....Who cares? Can/should Hillary be hanged for believing in some greater form of homosexual expression yet being married to a man who enacted "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and signed DOMA? Is it indicative of HRC putting the political above the personal? I don't think so.

Now there's one thing that Hillary has in common with Bill O'Reilly...Testy exchanges with Terry Gross. BFD.

Jun. 16 2014 10:20 AM

Hilary Clinton is a politician. She has to be be very careful about what she says so that what she says was misconstrued. And she described exactly how she thought she was going to be misconstrued. She was upfront in that respect. She was much more upfront about Iraq than she's ever been.

What Hilary Clinton said in that interview was there were pioneers, and she was not one of them. She changed her mind along with the rest of us. She's pretty clear with her answer.

Jun. 16 2014 10:20 AM
Cynthia Story from Point Lookout LI

Surprised to hear this continued badgering from Brian. I, too have evolved. I never dreamed of gay marriage, and I definitely evolved. Unnecessary nit-picking on Hillary. Really surprised as I am a constant listener.

Jun. 16 2014 10:20 AM
wtf from nyc

OMG, hillary clinton is speaking about her memoir and all you can talk about is same sex marriage? get over it, she is the former state secretary to the USA.
I cannot imagine this level of BS scrutiny of a man.
such BS on a Monday morning on wnyc!

Jun. 16 2014 10:19 AM
Dennis Maher from Lake Luzerne NY

I agree with Sarah on line: I was irritated with Terry Gross pushing on this, and I wonder why you, Brian, are making such a big deal of it. (You said "Not to make a big deal of this....") I came to accept gay rights about '79. It took me til the early '90's to accept gay marriage, but I couldn't call it "marriage" until some years later. Everyone has his or her own story on this. While I think this is unfair to Hillary, I really would like another democratic candidate for president.

Jun. 16 2014 10:19 AM
Ruth Kreinik from New York, NY

Ms. Gross was ridiculously pushy. "What difference does it make?" Leave Hillary Clinton alone already. You all are picking on stuff just to keep the conversation going. It's boring, Brian. Give it a rest!!!

Jun. 16 2014 10:19 AM

Hillary did not answer the question. She sounded annoyed and evasive. She needs to think this through and find the words that reflect her actual feelings and actions and use them. This was a fail and it did not have to be.
Terry Gross did nothing wrong.

Jun. 16 2014 10:19 AM

I love Terry Gross.

Jun. 16 2014 10:19 AM
BarbaraHoffmann from Pa

Gosh, I love this show, but why are you spending all this time on Clinton's interview with Terry Gross. I love Terry, and I am not yet in the Hillary camp. But why is this a big deal?

Jun. 16 2014 10:18 AM

Off topic but...Hillary Clinton has done nothing in her political career qualifies her to be president.

Jun. 16 2014 10:17 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Mrs. Clinton, Obama, et al, were pathetic and cowardly on marriage equality. No spine at all.

Jun. 16 2014 10:17 AM

Let's get behind a woman who never equivocates…

Liz Warren for President!!

Jun. 16 2014 10:17 AM

Seriously, I think Terry Gross made it more about herself and scoring a point than Hillary Clinton, and NPR needs to let it go already! I also agree with SKV about how she owned Terry. And the caller Sarah, you have it right too. Enough, Brian, you guys are creating something out of nothing...

Jun. 16 2014 10:16 AM

Terry Gross was persistently beat around the bush. Hilary Clinton answered the question she THOUGHT she was being asked.

She didn't answer the question she was ACTUALLY being asked. Terry's framing of the question was really muddled.

Jun. 16 2014 10:15 AM
Nick from UWS

Hilary Clinton didn't make a "mistake" by supporting the Iraq war, anymore than any other executive of the military / industrial complex did in promoting their business model. Thousands of our impressionable children made a huge mistake in judgment by voluntarily joining the military in the first place knowing full well what they would be ordered to do. Hopefully, more than a decade of this cynical bullshit will have permeated the consciousness of today's youth and they will make the choice to sign up with a LOT more circumspection, or just not do it. If the US Government wants to have a war, let them reinstate the draft, and we'll see how many are willing to "serve". Otherwise, let them shut the fuck up.

Jun. 16 2014 10:15 AM

As to arguing that Iraq was not a mistake, can anyone claim that if all of Iraq went the way Mosul did during the first year of occupation that Iraq would still be the punchline that it is today? Was there any obstacle to all of Iraq being like Mosul other than the pig-headedness of Cheney and Rumsfeld and Bush's unwillingness to challenge them, ie., there was no Iraqi obstacle to such an outcome?

Jun. 16 2014 10:15 AM
wtf from nyc

What is going on with this focus on same sex marriage - Obama supported then withdrew his support from SSM!
Enough, leave it.
There are bigger fish to fry!
What is wrong with you?
who cares about her position eight years ago about same sex marriage?!
What about her ties to wall street?
The world does not revolve around gay marriage...this country is about to go to war in Iraq again...what is the fixation with same sex marriage???????
P.S. I totally support LGBTQ rights.

Jun. 16 2014 10:14 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I've evolved too. I used to be against gay marriage, and now I'm against ALL marriage.

Jun. 16 2014 10:14 AM

I agree that Hilary was pushy in the interview but I have to wonder if the same would have been said if she were a man?

Jun. 16 2014 10:13 AM
Dorothy from Manhattan

I'm neither a Hillary fan nor a Terry Gross fan but it's interesting that Terry Gross can be just as obnoxious and pushy as O'Reilly but she does it SWEETLY. Therefore, once the media gets a hold of something sweet li'l Terry always comes of smelling like a rose.

Jun. 16 2014 10:12 AM

Terry punctuates Clinton's perpetually slippery demeanor.

…whichever way is politically advantageous.


Thank you, Terry Gross!!

Jun. 16 2014 10:11 AM
S from NY, NY

Much ado about nothing. NPR should just admit they're anti-Clinton and move on....

Jun. 16 2014 10:10 AM
Sarah, sustaining member from CT

To suggest that the Terry Gross clip is the most covered aspect of HRC's book tour is absurd. Brian needs to cool it with his Hilary loathing.

Jun. 16 2014 10:09 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn

Clinton is a true politician. Through and through. And a real pro with interviews. But she didn't really answer that hot button question on her evolving on the issue same-sex marriage.
What was Terry Gross's point of mentioning something as silly as "Walker-Gate?"

Jun. 16 2014 10:08 AM
john from office

The best is the Gross Fresh Air interview with Gene Simmons from Kiss. A classic!!

Jun. 16 2014 10:07 AM
SKV from NYC

Listening to Hillary Clinton and Terry Gross ... I love Terry Gross to death, but Hillary Clinton totally had her number and owned that moment. She gave her position clearly and concisely -- Gross tried to push her into a statement that could harm her, and Clinton refused to go down that path. Clinton 1, Gross 0.

And when you start criticizing her TONE? Why not her hairdo, while you're at it?

Jun. 16 2014 10:07 AM
Steve from NYC

Hey, look! Brian is doing a piece on BOTH gay marriage and Hillary. Is this the best day of his life or what??

Jun. 16 2014 10:06 AM

A hard hitting piece...

Jun. 16 2014 10:02 AM
john from office

Ed, read before you talk. That was a Matt Grudge rumor and story. It was mean spirited.

How about beating her with facts and votes and not rumors.

I will admit to a certain Clinton Fatigue.

Jun. 16 2014 09:24 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Did you see the People Magazine cover where she is standing behind a lounge chair - but they cut off the chair so one can only see the top bar, and it looks like she is leaning on a walker?

Jun. 16 2014 08:00 AM

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