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Interview: Mrs. Clinton to Seek a ‘Formal Role’ in Welfare Reform

November 25, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ Hillary Rodham Clinton said she’ll seek a ``formal role″ in the presidential administration’s welfare-reform policy, according to a Time magazine interview released Sunday.

She also would like to tour the country to check the progress of welfare reform in various states and report her findings to her husband. ``I intend to speak out about it and write about it,″ she said.

The interview, Mrs. Clinton’s first since Bill Clinton was reelected, appears in the Dec. 2 issue of Time.

The White House has been going back and forth on what role the first lady will have regarding welfare. Clinton surprised his wife by raising the possibility in a September television interview. The idea had faded away until now.

After Mrs. Clinton’s comments in Time, the White House again played down the idea that she would lead any effort on welfare, pointing out that the measure already has been passed by Congress and is in the hands of the states to be implemented.

``I’m not aware that there is any formal role that is planned for the first lady other than that she will continue a lifetime of work on behalf of children in America,″ White House press secretary Mike McCurry said Sunday.

``I’m not aware that the president plans to ask her to take a _ quote, unquote _ formal role in any area. He does expect her and other experts on child welfare to help him and help the administration successfully implement welfare reform,″ McCurry said.

In the Time interview, Mrs. Clinton was asked about the first term and about the hard lessons learned.

``I’m sure there are lots and lots of lessons, things we did that could have been done better,″ she said, but didn’t cite any.

She later added, ``I’ve learned so much I can’t even begin to digest it all.″

When asked how she deals with rumors that she could be indicted for perjury or obstruction of justice, Mrs. Clinton said, ``Apparently that will always be with us. So my attitude is that I can’t be very concerned about it or distracted by it, so I really spend very little time thinking about any of it.″

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