Hillary Rodham Clinton met last week with TIME managing editor Walter Isaacson and talked about her activism on behalf of children. The issue may not be just abstract. She and the President are talking about having another child, she said, or adopting one. Excerpts:
TIME: How do you help Chelsea cope with being in the political spotlight?
Mrs. Clinton: When she was six, Bill and I talked about how we could prepare her for the meanspiritedness and slings and arrows that come with political life. At dinners her father would pretend to be running against Bill Clinton, and he would say something like "Don't vote for Bill Clinton. He's a terrible person, and he's mean to people." Chelsea got big tears in her eyes. At a series of dinners, we would do this.
TIME: What are you doing this time?
Mrs. Clinton: Oh, it's going to be a very tough campaign. She follows the news; she's interested in issues. She's come to understand about what is said in politics now. When we started all this, I expected her to hear a lot of mean things about her father. I wasn't prepared for having as much attention as I have received. When I was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury, usually it's I who goes to her and says, "You want to talk about what's going on in the news?" But this time it was Bill who went to her and said, "You want to talk about what's going on with your mom?" He sat down and talked to her.
TIME: He went though all the details?
Mrs. Clinton: No, we just explained the process. She obviously shares our view that all these investigations are politically inspired. My larger point is I think everyone should really think about how to prepare children once they get to be a certain age for the realities of life.
TIME: You've said Mrs. Onassis helped.
Mrs. Clinton: In June of '92 I went to her apartment and had lunch, and it was one of the most delightful and helpful things. We got to talk about how you give your children in the glare of public life a sense of personal space, privacy, self-confidence. She told me how she looked for ways to have her children accept responsibility. She would expect John and Caroline to be on time to go to school, and if they weren't ready, the car would go ahead without them, so they would know they would have to abide by the rules.
TIME: You've had trouble having kids. Have you ever considered adoption?
Mrs. Clinton: Well, we have talked about it. I must say we're hoping that we have another child.
TIME: Are you still hoping you'll have a second child?
Mrs. Clinton: (Laughing) I have to tell you I would be surprised but not disappointed. My friends would be appalled, I'm sure. But I think it would be terrific.
TIME: So are you considering adoption ?
Mrs. Clinton: We continue to talk about it. Because we really believe in adoption, and I have worked hard to promote adoption, particularly for older kids and across racial lines and kids with special needs. We'd have to think hard, especially if it were an older child, about the pressures of the White House on a child like that. We've thought about it.
TIME: What has been your involvement with adoption legislation?