Amanda Gorman had a question for Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday night. "I have some interest in the public sphere and I wanted to ask: What advice would you give your 23-year-old self or me?"
The acclaimed poet, who also just turned 23, was moderating a virtual Q&A with the pair of politicians for International Women's Day.
"Know you are special, your contribution is different from anyone else's," Pelosi, 80, told Gorman. "They should be inspired by you. I do believe that the arts are going to save our whole society and bring people together."
"Your gift," said Clinton, "which we are seeing as you are sharing it with us … you have the ability to express aspirations and give people a voice that they didn't know they had."
"And good leadership does that," Clinton continued. "So if you follow through with your goal of running for president, you can take every day and think about how you can use your gift to try to lift up other people so that they know they're not alone."
Chrissy Teigen introduced the speakers and hosted the event, a fundraiser for Clinton's Onward Together Committee and Pelosi's political group PAC to the Future, which both support Democratic female candidates.
More than 6,000 people participated in Monday night's event, Teigen said.
While touting Democrats' work in Congress on COVID stimulus (which Republicans have uniformly criticized as excessive), Teigen joked about a future return to normalcy.
"Please, God, please. My kids back in school," she said, laughing.
During the event, Gorman also asked questions from audience members, including if there was a trick or method for how Clinton or Pelosi "deal with ridiculous people" and "how do you deal with the men when you're getting a seat at the table?"
"I know every woman has had this experience — Hillary can attest to it," Pelosi said. "You're at a table. You make a suggestion to people, later the same suggestion comes out of the mouth of a man and people say, 'What a great idea,' and you said, 'Well, I just said that two minutes before.' And I decided that the reason that happens is because they didn't really listen when women spoke. They didn't even hear it. They don't listen."
But, Pelosi went on, "It's a lot different when you have the gavel."
"I think even if you don't have the gavel, there are some tricks of the trade," Clinton said. "I really encourage other women to repeat what one woman said."
"So for example, if I'm at a table with Nancy — it doesn't happen to her anymore because she is the speaker with the gavel — but in the old days, if she were to say, 'what about …,' I think you jump in and you say, 'I think that's a really good point that Nancy's making.' You sort of force the attention to the woman who is speaking and other women can do that."
Gorman closed out the hour-long event by thanking the pair for their decades of work. And they finished with words of wisdom for all who seek public office.
"It sounds repetitious, but every opportunity I get, I want to say to young women: Know your power," Pelosi said. "This will sound a little harsh — but when you get into the arena and you're fighting for what you believe in, sometimes it can get negative. Sometimes you have to be ready to take a punch."
At the same time, she said, you "also have to be ready to throw a punch."
"Nancy was very honest in saying, look, it's always been a contact sport," Clinton added. "It's a tough environment, it's not for the faint of heart.
"One of my favorite Americans, Eleanor Roosevelt, said that if you want to get into the arena, you have to grow skin as thick as the hide of a rhinoceros," she continued. "It's not an easy road, but it is so rewarding. I am so grateful that I've had the chance to serve, that I've had the chance to stand up and fight for what I believed in and that I've had the chance to help people."
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