January 10, 1995 in Nation/World

First Lady Takes Blame For Health Care Failures

Associated Press

First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton blamed herself Monday for the failure of health-care reform last year and said she had been politically “naive and dumb.”

Speaking to a group of women writers invited to lunch at the White House, Clinton also said she is surprised by how she sometimes is perceived. And she asked the writers, including Ann Landers, for some advice: how to make her public image better match her own self-image as sympathetic and complicated.

“Sometimes I read stories and hear things about me and I go ‘ugh.’ I wouldn’t like her either,” the Times quoted Clinton as saying. “It’s so unlike what I think I am or what my friends think I am.”

“I can only guess that people are getting perceptions about me from things I am saying or doing in ways that don’t correspond with things I am trying to get across,” Clinton told the women, who usually write about personal advice, style, gossip and the first lady’s social functions.

“I didn’t get this whole image creation thing. I see what it can do but I’m not sure I get it. I have let other people define me.”

Last year, Clinton had suggested in interviews that part of the reason for the failure of health-care reform in Congress was that a male-dominated political system had found it difficult to accept her position of authority on the issue.

But on Monday, she said, “I take responsibility for not understanding what was going on. There was a lack of politically savvy advice.”

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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