Many women could be credited with paving Hillary Clinton's road to the White House, but none are as familiar to Coloradans as Pat Schroeder, the first woman elected to Congress from our state, who considered her own run for president almost thirty years ago.
Schroeder formally endorsed Clinton for president on Tuesday via a phone conference with the media.
“I've known [Clinton] and worked with her on so many work and family issues, which is in such a crisis, you know,” Schroeder said. “She was one of the great leaders in that and children's issues — all things that don't have big, fancy lobbying groups around them.”
From 1972 to 1997, Schroeder made her mark on Congress as a tough-talking feminist leader on issues like abortion and family issues. She was a huge reason that 1993's Family and Medical Leave Act came to fruition.
But she was also the first woman to serve on the House Armed Services Committee, where a Dixiecrat famously made her share a seat with an African-American Democrat from California because in the Southern congressman's opinion, women and African-Americans were each only worth “half of one member" of the committee.
Democrats controlled the House when Schroeder was elected, and they held their grip until 1994, when they helped then-president Bill Clinton pass a controversial budget. Scorned voters pushed Republicans in, and Newt Gingrich was elected Speaker of the House. Gingrich immediately went to work busting up bipartisan caucuses, Schroeder said via the phone conference. “I felt like I was in a food fight in a cafeteria every day,” she said.
Regarding her decision in 1997 to not pursue another term, Schroeder said her thinking at the time revolved around her age and her frustration with Congress. "I'm 55 years old, ageism is huge, this is a tough job, and I can't get anything done," she said. "Why do I want to come here and get in a food fight every day?”
To pay homage to the trailblazing quote machine of a congresswoman, we've corralled some of her best public insights.
Keep reading for six of Pat Schroeder's best quotes.
Schroeder on a 1980 cover of Westword.
6. "When men talk about defense, they always claim to be protecting women and children, but they never ask the women and children what they think."
5. ''I could not bear to turn every human contact into a photo opportunity, nor could I bear to be separated by people who were well-meaning but trying to protect me. I would shrivel,” Schroeder told a crowd in 1987 after she decided not to seek the Democratic presidential nomination, according to the New York Times. She would later chastise the media for focusing on the tears she shed during her announcement at Civic Center Park and not the speech itself.
4. "I would have done so much better politically if I had embraced the Second Amendment and forgotten about the First,” Schroeder wrote in her memoir, 24 Years of Housework...and the Place Is Still a Mess: My Life in Politics.
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3. "What are they going to do next? Go to Victoria's Secret to see if she wore underwear?" In her memoir, Schroeder wrote about two subpoenas that prosecutor Kenneth Starr served to Washington, D.C., bookstores regarding Monica Lewinsky's reading habits during the Clinton sex scandal.
2. "I would be in a straitjacket if I were there," Schroeder said of Congress in 1998.
1. “I have a brain and a uterus, and I use both,” she replied to a fellow congressman who asked how she could manage to have both children and a career in politics. Schroeder would famously show up in Congress with a diaper bag.