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42Inside the Presidency of Bill Clinton$
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Michael Nelson, Barbara A. Perry, and Russell L. Riley

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780801454066

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801454066.001.0001

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Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Recasting the Role of First Lady

(p.174) 7 Hillary Rodham Clinton

Barbara A. Perry

Cornell University Press

This chapter assesses the unusually influential role played by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. A product in many ways of the 1960s women’s movement, Clinton broke new ground as a presidential spouse. Aside from Eleanor Roosevelt, a sui generis first lady, modern presidential wives did not advocate signature public policy causes until Lady Bird Johnson launched her “Keep America Beautiful” campaign in the mid-1960s. Hillary Clinton chose health care reform as her primary cause, but she went far beyond her predecessors by leading a task force that developed legislation and then presented it to Congress. The chapter then discusses the controversy surrounding Clinton’s expanded policy functions as first lady and offers conclusions about how Americans view the position in the context of presidential power and women’s political participation.

Keywords:   Hillary Clinton, women’s movement, health care, first lady, presidential power, women’s politics

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