Chelsea Clinton says her father’s foundation work and her mother’s campaigns helped her embrace a political legacy that may eventually include a role for her in public office.
In her most revealing interview to date, the former first daughter talks to Vogue about her marriage and possibly providing her mom with “the grandchildren she hopes to have.” She also describes how she gradually warmed to the idea of following her parents into politics.
“Before my mom’s campaign I would have said no. Not because it was something I had thought a lot about but because people have been asking me that my whole life,” said the 32-year-old daughter of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton.
“Even during my father’s 1984 gubernatorial campaign, it was, 'Do you want to grow up and be governor one day?' No. I am four,” she said, referring to her father’s days as Arkansas governor.
Hillary Clinton ran for U.S. Senate in 2000 and then for president in 2008. Chelsea Clinton credits her mom for teaching her “there are many ways to serve,” but isn’t sure what the future holds.
“So if there were to be a point where it was something I felt called to do and I didn’t think there was someone who was sufficiently committed to building a healthier, more just, more equitable, more productive world? Then that would be a question I’d have to ask and answer.”
Clinton is now pursuing a Ph.D in international relations, teaches graduate classes at Columbia, and is a special correspondent for NBC News. She also sits on the board of her father’s Clinton Foundation and travels throughout the world for her growing role with the Clinton Global Initiative and the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
In the Vogue article, which includes interviews with several confidants, including friends she has known since her Arkansas days, Clinton also describes her self-awareness while growing up as a teenager in the White House. Dinner conversations could vary from what she did in biology class, to the federal budget fight, or events leading up to her father’s upcoming trip to Russia.
“I knew that we were having a different type of conversation than most of my friends, but there were normal rhythms that we started in Arkansas that very much carried through,” she said.
Clinton said she didn’t truly understand the level of her celebrity status until she witnessed the media circus surrounding her wedding two years ago to hedge-fund manager Marc Mezvinsky.
“Either it was something I could continue to ignore or it was something I could try to use to highlight causes that I really cared about,” she said. “Historically I deliberately tried to lead a private life in the public eye. And now I am trying to lead a purposefully public life.”
Part of her purpose could include children, Clinton acknowledged, who likes to joke that her mother has gently pressured her.
“It’s certainly something that Marc and I talk a lot about,” she said. “I always knew I was the center of my parents’ lives when I was growing up. And I am determined that our children feel the same way. Marc and I are both working really hard right now, but I think in a couple of years, hopefully … literally, God willing. And I hope my mom can wait that long.”
Eun Kyung Kim is a TODAY.com's contributor in Washington. The family dinner conversations in her house tend to revolve around the latest action figures rather than congressional budget fights.