The documents also detailed the first lady's struggles in the
early 1990s with her healthcare task force, including worries about
resistance on Capitol Hill and an aide's warning the plan could not
meet a pledge to allow patients to pick their doctors, a promise
that also came back to haunt President Barack Obama.
The release of nearly 4,000 pages of previously sealed documents by
the Clinton Presidential Library served to revisit Hillary Clinton's
record and early struggles with her image as she gears up for a
potential 2016 run for the presidency. The documents had previously
been withheld from the public under a legal authority that expired
The documents shed light on efforts to overcome the perception that
the first lady was aloof and calculating, detailing her attempts to
win positive press coverage around the time she gave a speech at a
U.N. conference in China in 1995 and ahead of her successful run for
the U.S. Senate in 2000.
An August 31, 1995, memo by Clinton's press secretary Lisa Caputo
suggested she do interviews with "regional media."
"Hillary is comfortable with the local reporters and enjoys speaking
with them," the memo states. "This will help us get around her
aversion to the national Washington media and serve to counter the
tone of the national media."
The memo recommended a "Hillaryland Staff Outreach to Media" and
urged Clinton aides to "socialize more" with reporters.
"I believe it would create enormous good will for Hillary since we
can all tell wonderful Hillary anecdotes that humanize her and show
the press the good person that she is," it said.
Such an effort would also correct the picture of Clinton's "being in
a bunker mentality," the memo stated. It further suggested the "wild
idea" of having the first lady make a guest appearance on the
then-popular ABC sitcom "Home Improvement," starring Tim Allen.
In a July 6, 1999, memo to Clinton as she headed off on a "listening
tour" in New York state to introduce herself to voters ahead of her
successful run for the Senate, consultant Mandy Grunwald advised her
to be "chatty, intimate, informal" and "real."
The memo listed two questions she might prepare for: "Have you ever
used drugs?" and "Your only government assignment was health care
which was a fiasco. How does that record stack up against Mayor
Then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was seen as a possible Republican
Senate candidate but did not run. Clinton won a Senate seat, beating
Republican Rick Lazio in 2000.
The documents also showed administration aides were worried early
about the prospects for the first lady's healthcare initiative and
went to elaborate lengths to court key lawmakers and sell the plan
to the public.
[to top of second column]
The plan to provide universal health coverage was dropped in
September 1994 amid heavy criticism in Congress and from the health
insurance industry that it was too complex and bureaucratic.
In the early stages of the debate in 1993, a staff memo suggested
Clinton hold a series of meetings and working dinners with
congressional leaders to build support and offered suggestions for
ways to stroke the egos of individual members.
In a January 1994 memo, a White House aide said the president's plan
to include a promise in the State of the Union address that
Americans could pick the health plan and doctor of their choice
"sounds great" but might come back to haunt the administration.
"I am very worried about getting skewered or over-promising here on
something we know full well we won't deliver," the memo said.
The incident echoed Obama's later inability to keep a similar
promise about his healthcare law that all patients would be able to
keep their doctors.
The documents also included a transcript of a 1993 speech to
Democratic congressional leaders in which Hillary Clinton said the
individual mandate to purchase insurance - a basic tenet of
Obamacare but not part of her proposal in the 1990s - was a "much
harder sell" that would send shockwaves through the insured
The documents, the first of about 33,000 pages that will be released
in the next few weeks, are posted online by the library at
(Editing by Prudence Crowther)
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