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Chelsea Clinton Talks About Her Mom, Her Role Model

Personal stories about Clinton as a mother help humanize her

Chelsea Clinton introduces her mother. (Bll Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Chelsea Clinton introduces her mother. (Bll Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton often talks on the campaign trail about being a grandmother.  

Her daughter, Chelsea, described just how that works: The former secretary of state loves interacting on Face Time with granddaughter Charlotte, nearly 2.  

Chelsea said her mom could be ready to walk on stage for a speech or a debate but she will drop everything to blow kisses or read “Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo” to Charlotte.  

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“She’s a women driven by compassion, by faith, by a fierce sense of justice and a heart full of love,” Chelsea said, as she introduced her mother Thursday, the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.   

The Democratic nominee, Chelsea said, is her role model as a mother and an advocate. Her speech focused on those themes.   

Chelsea was a teenager when her father, Bill Clinton, became president. She spent some of her formative years in the White House and, like her parents, has remained in the public eye ever since.   

Chelsea talked at length about her childhood and her mother’s constant presence at soccer and softball games, piano and dance recitals and how they frequently spent Saturdays searching for shapes in the clouds and talking about dinosaurs — a childhood obsession of Chelsea’s.  


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“She was always, always there for me,” she recalled.   

Clinton balanced motherhood with her other responsibilities. “Whenever my mom was away for work, which thankfully didn’t happen very often, she left notes for me to open when she was gone,” Chelsea said, noting there was a note for every day her mom was not home.   

“I treasured each and every one of those notes.  They were another reminder that I was always in her thoughts and in her heart.”  

At family dinners, Chelsea said her parents always asked about her day before talking about theirs, making her understand they valued her thoughts and ideas.   

That feeling is what Clinton offers to every child, Chelsea said. “It is the calling of her life.”  

Chelsea also talked about her mother’s lessons in public service.  

“I’ve seen her holding the hands of mothers worried about how they’ll feed their kids, worried about how they’ll get the healthcare they need,” Chelsea recalled, saying that after those conversations her mother would get straight to work seeing what she could do to help.   

The summer of 1994, after Hillary Clinton lost her fight for universal health care, was a low point, Chelsea recalled.  

“It was bruising; it was exhausting,” said Chelsea, who was 14 at the time.  

Family movie nights helped replenish her spirits, Chelsea said, noting that her father loved “Police Academy” but her mother and her favored “Pride and Prejudice.”  

But what has pushed her mother through the tough times in her lengthy political career is remembering her purpose, Chelsea said. “It’s because she never ever forgets who she’s fighting for.”  

Chelsea recalled those fights: “She’s worked to make it easier for foster kids to be adopted, for our 9/11 first responders to get the health care they deserve, for women around the world to be safe, to be treated with dignity and to have more opportunities.”  

“Fights like these, they’re what keep my mother going,” she said. “They grab her heart and hear conscious and they never ever let go.”  

Lavon Bracy, a Clinton delegate from Orlando, said Chelsea’s speech really gave the crowd a sense of what it was like to grow up in the Clinton household. “She had a personal touch that no one else could have had,” she said.   

Jon Fish, a Sanders delegate from Kentucky, agreed Chelsea’s speech was effective in humanizing Clinton.   

“It could be useful for people who see Hillary Clinton just as a cold calculating politician to also see her from the side as a member of the family,” he said. 

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