Convention Close-up: Hillary

Hillary Rodham Clinton made history Monday night when she addressed the Democratic National Convention as both first lady and a candidate for public office.

Before the speech, Mrs. Clinton sat down with CBS News Anchor Dan Rather and 60 Minutes Correspondent Ed Bradley for a Convention Close-up.

Rather: The first lady and the president are in Los Angeles raising a lot of money for their own purposes and it's supposed to be Al Gore's convention. Fair or unfair?

Clinton: Well, it is Al Gore's convention and we've worked hard to make sure everyone knows what we know about Al and Joe, and why we are so strongly in favor of them.

Rather: But is the criticism fair or unfair?

Clinton: Well, it's not. Because we worked out everything months ago.

Rather: I have in my mind, and I think a lot of Americans do, the night in New York in 1992 -- the convention -- the Clintons and Gores are on stage. You and Mrs. Gore, clearly such a warm feeling. Right or wrong, some of that has been chipped away or waned over the years?

Clinton: Well, I certainly don't feel that. You know when we first got into this we said that one thing we wanted to be at the base of our relationship was a clear understanding that we wouldn't believe anything anybody else said. But we would always come to each other, and, you know, that's worked really well. Because you know very well, Dan, in national politics and certainly in Washington, people are always trying to pit other people against one another and we just never let any of that happen. And you could not find two stronger supporters and friends of Al Gore and Tipper, and now of course Joe and Hadassah, than Bill and me.

Bradley: Your opponent in New York said, "She covets power and control and thinks that she should be dictating how other people run their lives."

Clinton: He said that?

Bradley: If there is that perception of you that some have in New York, how do you counter that perception?

Clinton: By letting people get to know me. For 30 years, I've wanted to make a contribution and try to help people, and I want to take that commitment and consistency to the Senate.

Bradley: And does the president campaign for you in New York?

Clinton: I hope so. I hope so.

Bradley: Is there any downside to that?

Clinton: Well, there are people who don't like us. I know that. I'm fully aware of it. But those are not people who are ever going to vote for me or what I stand for. You know they're not pro-choice, they're happy to let the gun lobby decide what our laws are. They have a very different view of where we should go when it comes to the future of New York and America.

Rather: Let me read you something your husband said a few days ago: "I'm trying to totally rebuild my life from a terrible mistake I made. … .trying to rebuild my family life whic is the most important thing of all and took a lot a lot of effort." Has he done enough?

Clinton: I am very grateful for our family and for the effort and work that goes into any family and I've nothing to add to what he said the other day when he spoke. I think that this convention, his remarks tonight, this election is about the future and that’s what we’re going to keep talking about.

Bradley: After the failure of the health-care initiative in 1994. You went from the foreground to the background. But in a recent interview, you said you actually had done quite a lot over the years, but it was kept quiet.

Clinton: Well, it wasn't kept quiet out of any reason. I was involved in trying to push the president’s agenda forward particularly when it came to children and families and women.

Bradley If you are acting as a senior policy advisor to the president as first lady, should Americans know that that is also your role?

Clinton: Well, I think everybody who cares about the issues we worked on knew that that’s what I was going to be focused on.

Rather: Everyone who runs for office has fears.

Clinton: I fear that a country as prosperous right now as we are can so easily be lulled into complacency if people vote in November without knowing what’s really at stake. Our country could make a very bad decision.