Hillary Clinton, back in Park Ridge, talks about her father, working women and Russians
It didn't take long for politics to emerge Friday in a tribute to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other influential Park Ridge women.
When Maine South High School senior Charlotte Geier asked what surprised Clinton most in her 2016 run for president, the Democrat quipped, "Besides the Russians?" to applause from the friendly crowd.
The exchange was typical of Clinton's appearance at the Pickwick Theater in her hometown Park Ridge, where she was interviewed by student journalists from Maine South and Maine East high schools, which she attended. The event was sparked by an upcoming Park Ridge Historical Society exhibit and featured a short film, "Dare to Dream," about Clinton's coming of age in the suburb.
Clinton wove personal stories about her father's high standards -- "You must go to an easy school," she recounted him saying about her good grades -- with critiques of President Donald Trump's stance on immigration -- "The idea of putting children in cages is just wrong."
Clinton, also a former New York senator and first lady, waged a bitter election battle against Trump in 2016. U.S. officials have concluded Russian agents meddled in the election, although the president has disputed those conclusions and suggested Clinton should be investigated instead.
"I wish every American would accept and understand the Russians played a major role in the campaign, and they intend to do it again," she said.
She faulted social media for failing to monitor inaccurate reports.
"When a totally false attack filled with accusations that are absolutely untrue is put up ... the response of Facebook is, 'That's free speech.' Well it is, to a certain extent, but if you're up against the Russian military or a very well-funded political campaign, how we get to a free, open exchange of accurate information is really difficult," she said.
Clinton also weighed in on congressional impeachment inquiries surrounding Trump. The president has criticized the move as a "coup" and called for the impeachment of the House Intelligence Committee chairman.
The Founding Fathers wouldn't have "put impeachment in the Constitution if they thought elections would be the answer to abuse of power," Clinton said.
Clinton and friends recalled suburban life in the 1950s as a time when women weren't expected to have careers or were limited to professions such as teaching or nursing.
It was the post-World War II era, when "our neighborhood filled with veterans who had served and every mother of every friend that I had was a full-time mom," she recalled. "So I only knew women who had professional careers through my teachers and through the public librarians."
Geier, 17, and Dalal Hassane, 15, a newspaper editor at Maine East, were still processing the experience of interviewing someone famous in front of a crowd of hundreds.
"This experience was incredibly surreal," Dalal said. "Three weeks ago I had no idea I would be on stage with Hillary Clinton asking her questions."
A long line of people formed in the pouring rain to fill the historic theater, and youngsters from town, many in Scout uniforms, handed out programs.
"Her comments were right on," said Joan Mattingly of Park Ridge, who grew up in a Republican home and was a White House intern under President Richard Nixon.
The Park Ridge Historical Society exhibit on Clinton and three other influential Park Ridge women, "Trailblazing Women of Park Ridge," will open in spring 2020.