Hillary Clinton Schedules Show Drop in Policy Role
James Rowley and Edwin Chen Wed Mar 19, 3:35 PM ET
March 19 (Bloomberg) -- Hillary Clinton's daily
schedules show that her formal policy role in the
presidency of her husband, Bill Clinton, shrunk once
Congress shelved the health- care plan she helped
craft in the administration's first two years.
The 11,046 pages of daily schedules released by the
Clinton Presidential Library show that her days became
filled with the more traditional, ceremonial events
attended by first ladies instead of policy meetings
after Congress in 1994 killed her plan to guarantee
every American access to health insurance.
In campaigning for the Democratic presidential
nomination, Clinton says the experience she gained in
her husband's administration prepared her to be
president on ``day one.'' Clinton, a New York senator,
argues that her travel and meetings with foreign
leaders give her a deeper foreign-policy resume than
Democratic rival Barack Obama. She has questioned the
Illinois senator's fitness to be commander in chief.
The schedules were made public today in response to a
lawsuit by the advocacy group Judicial Watch.
During 1993 and much of 1994, Clinton met almost every
weekday with health-care advisers or key lawmakers.
Her schedules document a grueling itinerary of trips
to hospitals and health- care conferences around the
U.S. where she met with elected officials and spoke
with patients and doctors.
``Nothing matched health care in terms of intensity --
it was meeting, meeting, meeting -- sometimes two,
three, four a day,'' said Chris Jennings, a private
consultant who was a top staffer on Clinton's
health-care task force.
The schedule is ``only a guide for her service as
first lady and is far from an exhaustive compendium of
her work,'' Clinton spokesman Jay Carson said today.
``Phone calls, impromptu meetings, conversations with
staff or officials, strategy sessions and other events
are not a part of the schedules, and much of the work
in the White House is done in these ways.''
The schedules contain numerous references to private
meetings, and they don't disclose the instances in
which she advised her husband.
Clinton deliberately lowered her profile after the
health- care debate ended because ``she didn't want to
detract'' from other health initiatives after ``things
had gotten so personalized,'' Jennings said. The
health-care industry attacked her plan, which critics
Her behind-the-scenes efforts led to President
Clinton's letter to then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich
proposing that they work together to expand medical
insurance coverage for children, Jennings said.
During the first two years of her husband's
presidency, Clinton mixed her traditional first lady
duties with her work on health-care reform.
On Jan. 21, 1994, she met privately with Queen Noor of
Jordan, went to the Healthcare Leadership Council at
the Madison Hotel, and then returned to the White
House to join a meeting that staff aides were
conducting with health-care executives including Roy
Vagelos, chief executive officer of drugmaker Merck &
With the death of her health-care plan in September
1994 and the election that gave Republicans control of
Congress, Clinton's daily activities became more
social and ceremonial.
The schedule shows her days were taken up by
receptions for new members of Congress, a luncheon
with the National Federation of Black Women Business
Owners and visits to high schools and hospitals.
When Helmut Kohl, then German chancellor, visited the
White House in January 1995, Clinton played a
ceremonial role, according to the schedules.
No Formal Meetings
``Upon conclusion of the receiving line, Mrs. Clinton
departs,'' the schedule reads. Later she met up with
the chancellor again for an official photo, receiving
line and black- tie dinner. The schedule doesn't
indicate Clinton held any formal meetings with Kohl or
his senior advisers.
During a February 1996 visit to Washington of French
President Jacques Chirac, Clinton participated in the
state arrival ceremony and a state dinner. She took
Chirac's wife, Bernadette, on a tour of an AIDS
To be sure, Clinton carried out an important
foreign-policy mission for her husband in 1995 when
she traveled to the Chinese capital of Beijing to
speak to an international conference on women. She
used the occasion to speak out forcefully on human
rights, cataloguing a litany of abuse that has harmed
women around the world and criticizing China for
trying to limit an open discussion on women's issues.
During a March 1996 trip to Europe, Clinton met
privately with the acting president of Bosnia, Ejup
Ganic; Turkish President Suleyman Demirel; Turkish
Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz; Greek President
Konstantinos Stephanopoulos and Greek Prime Minister
At the start of her husband's second term in January
1997, schedules show her attending programs honoring
the arts and humanities. In early February of that
year, she led a White House conference on extending
so-called microcredit to women trying to start small
businesses in poor nations. The summit was attended by
leaders from underdeveloped nations.
The calendar for Jan. 26, 1996, said ``no public
schedule'' and didn't mention her testimony that day
before a federal grand jury investigating the
To contact the reporter on this story: James Rowley in
Washington at jarowley@...
; Edwin Chen in
Washington at EChen32@...