On a lovely spring evening in May of 1991, Susan and I awaited at the Governor’s Residence the arrival of Arkansas First Lady, Hillary Clinton. She was in Minnesota traveling extensively to promote school-to-work programs designed to better prepare academically undernourished children for the challenges of the job market.
When she arrived around 10 p.m. after a most exhaustive day, she and Susan embraced like old friends and quickly went to their favorite topic: children. Slowly, I began to evolve into a piece of furniture realizing that my hopes for an energetic discussion about Bill’s plans to run for the Presidency were being crushed by this enthusiasm for children.
After awhile, they went to the kitchen to rummage around for leftovers still immersed in their policy discussion. The only thing that broke their stride was Hillary’s delight that we had diet cherry coke.
Although I was the forgotten member of the trio, I began to marvel at the knowledge and genuine passion these two remarkable public servants had for helping children. In their quest for an enduring solution, they must have covered just about every children’s’ program that existed.
I know how much this meant to Susan who at that time was working with Ron James, CEO of US West, on the Action for Children Commission to put together a host of reforms designed to prevent problems for children in order to offset the dreadful price of faulty outcomes. There is no doubt in my mind that their final report Kids Can’t Wait was heavily influenced by this discussion with Hillary. And we all continue to benefit. I personally learned a lot about the union of warmth, intelligence and passion.
It may appear to many to be a small example of how well Hillary Clinton works across the political isle, but to the thousands of children who were helped by this partnership; it remains a very large deal.
Now, Hillary Clinton may well be the President who carries these aspirations of children into the Presidency where it will help millions more. I truly hope so.