During a wide-ranging talk and interview, Hillary Clinton charmed a Toronto audience of thousands.
When summarizing the life of Hillary Clinton, where do you start? She was the first female senator of the state of New York, she’s coming off a four-year run as U.S. secretary of state, and aside from all that she was a first lady for eight years. It’s no surprise, then, that Thursday night at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre—where Clinton spoke as part of the Unique Lives & Experiences lecture series—5,000 or so fans and supporters were in attendance, many likely hoping for some sort of confirmation (or hint) that she might be making a second run at the U.S. presidency in 2016.
The night kicked off simply enough. War Child North America Executive Director Samantha Nutt, the night’s host and moderator, introduced Clinton.
When Clinton finally emerged (to a standing ovation, no less), she set aside formalities and started speaking as if she were sharing a cup of coffee with the whole crowd. Before her sit-down with Nutt, Clinton took the audience through some of the details of her life: being one of the only women to work on Richard Nixon’s impeachment inquiry, flying a helicopter directly over the burning World Trade Centre on 9/11, noticing Bill Clinton in college when he declared that Arkansas had the biggest watermelons (she recalled this in a super-thick Southern accent), not wanting to stop the 2008 campaign against Obama because “she was having too much fun,” and later being asked by Obama to become Secretary of State. As she remembers it, she was out for a hike (“which was more like a fast walk”) on the Sunday after the 2008 election, when Obama phoned her. She was initially shocked by his proposal, and unsure if she should accept it.
After Clinton had finished speaking, Nutt returned to the stage for a Q and A. First question: what is the unfinished business of the women’s movement? Clinton’s answer: “Can you stay here until breakfast?” She explained the continuous struggles that women face around the world and the opportunities that women are denied, particularly in the political realm (something Toronto can relate to). When asked how she manages to cope with sexism in the media, like when she was criticized for not wearing makeup, she responded bluntly, “I don’t care anymore.” She went on, however, to condemn ongoing sexist attacks against Julia Gillard, Australia’s first woman Prime Minister. “We should never dehumanize anyone,” Clinton said.
On her biggest accomplishment as Secretary of State: “Restoring America’s reputation in the world,” she said. One thing that she wishes she could do over? She’d spend more time outdoors. On whether women lead better than men, she said she finds women more likely to seek consensus. Will the next president be a woman? (Which was a not-so-subtle way of asking what we all want to know.) Clinton laughed, but kept her poker face. “I hope I see a woman president in my lifetime,” she said. “I will certainly vote for her!”
Second photo by Kyle Bachan/Torontoist.