Hillary Clinton, back in Park Ridge, talks about her father, working women and Russians

  • Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joins high school student journalists for photos after speaking Friday during a tribute to Trailblazing Women of Park Ridge at the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge.

      Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joins high school student journalists for photos after speaking Friday during a tribute to Trailblazing Women of Park Ridge at the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answers questions posed by student journalists Charlotte Geier, a Maine South senior, center, and Dalal Hassane, a Maine East sophomore, during a tribute to Trailblazing Women of Park Ridge at the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge.

      Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answers questions posed by student journalists Charlotte Geier, a Maine South senior, center, and Dalal Hassane, a Maine East sophomore, during a tribute to Trailblazing Women of Park Ridge at the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answers questions posed by high school journalists Friday during a tribute to Trailblazing Women of Park Ridge at the Pickwick Theater.

      Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answers questions posed by high school journalists Friday during a tribute to Trailblazing Women of Park Ridge at the Pickwick Theater. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke Friday in her hometown of Park Ridge.

      Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke Friday in her hometown of Park Ridge. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answers questions posed by student journalists Charlotte Geier, a Maine South senior, center, and Dalal Hassane, a Maine East sophomore, Friday at the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge, Clinton's hometown.

      Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answers questions posed by student journalists Charlotte Geier, a Maine South senior, center, and Dalal Hassane, a Maine East sophomore, Friday at the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge, Clinton's hometown. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • People arrive at the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge Friday to see former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who grew up in town.

      People arrive at the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge Friday to see former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who grew up in town. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Tina McNamee of Park Ridge was first in line as people arrived at the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge Friday to see former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. McNamee's husband secured her spot in line at 6:30 a.m.

      Tina McNamee of Park Ridge was first in line as people arrived at the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge Friday to see former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. McNamee's husband secured her spot in line at 6:30 a.m. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Jane Hynes, left, and Jaclyn Backer, both of Park Ridge, wait in line outside the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge Friday to see former Secretary of State and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton.

      Jane Hynes, left, and Jaclyn Backer, both of Park Ridge, wait in line outside the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge Friday to see former Secretary of State and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Kitti Foley of Park Ridge sits in the rain with her friend outside the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge Friday while waiting to see former Secretary of State and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton.

      Kitti Foley of Park Ridge sits in the rain with her friend outside the Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge Friday while waiting to see former Secretary of State and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/11/2019 6:35 PM

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.

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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.

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