TODAY   |  March 01, 2014

New docs shed light on Clinton White House

The National Archives released 4,000 pages of documents, which include memos from the Clinton White House on topics including healthcare, the U.S. economy and the first lady's efforts to control her image. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>>> with former secretary of state hillary clinton possibly pondering a potential run for president, thousands of pages of previously confidential documents from her husband's time in office were released on friday, offering a candid look at role she played back then. so, could that affect her future? kristen welker has the very latest for us this morning. kristen , good morning.

>> reporter: erica, good morning to you. the national archives released about 4,000 pages of documents which include memos from the clinton white house on topics including health care , the u.s. economy and also the first lady's image. there's no doubt these documents will be heavily scrutinized as the former secretary of state, hillary clinton , considers running in 2016 . known for her no-nonsense attitude, hillary clinton 's image was a source of political discussion during her husband's administration. according to the bill clinton -era documents released friday, there was an effort by the then first lady's staff to soften her in the public's eye. the documents show her press secretary suggested mrs. clinton spend some time celebrating former first ladies, which may help round out her image. the aide even proposed that she appear on the popular '90s sitcom "home improvement."

>> look at the size of that thing.

>> reporter: amy parnes co-authored the book "hrc."

>> they wanted her to warm up a bit, show the softer side of hillary clinton . i think that's something they're still struggling with.

>> reporter: the other big topic in the documents? health care .

>> health care reform and the need for it is bigger than any one person in our country.

>> reporter: the former first lady chaired her husband's task force and, initially, there was optimism. an unsigned document that was catalogued from april 1993 reads, "the first lady's months of meetings with the congress has produced a significant amount of trust." for her part, secretary clinton expressed serious concerns about a universal mandate requiring people to buy health insurance , telling congressional democrats in 1993 , it could create "shock waves."

>> people want to know what she thinks about health care . they want to know what she thinks about certain issues.

>> reporter: meanwhile, the clinton machine has begun to kick into a higher gear. bill clinton has hit the midterm campaign trail, and hillary is making the rounds on the speaking circuit. this week appearing at the university of miami . when asked if she will change her current twitter status about her future from "tbd," she didn't bite. [ cheers and applause ]

>> i'd really like to. but i have no characters left.

>> reporter: not surprisingly, republicans are seizing on the documents as they begin their campaign against clinton , slamming her for opposing the universal mandate in the '90s and then supporting the president's health care law . the documents had been withheld, despite past requests under legal exceptions. those exceptions expired last year and the papers have been cleared for release. they're actually a part of a broader set of 33,000 pages that could be made public over the next two weeks. erica.

>> that is a lot to go through, 33,000 pages. kristen , thanks.