SAN FRANCISCO — In a thinly masked attack on the Bush Administration, Hillary Clinton on Sunday praised working mothers who have excelled while juggling maternal demands and said American women need "a helping hand" rather than a "lecture from Washington on family values."
Addressing an awards luncheon sponsored by the American Bar Assn. to honor Oklahoma law professor Anita Faye Hill, Hillary Clinton echoed the words of her husband, Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton, declaring: "It is not enough to promote or preach about family values. We must value families."
Mrs. Clinton's remarks revisited a theme that surfaced in the campaign last spring after Vice President Dan Quayle said television's "Murphy Brown" had glorified single motherhood and mocked traditional family values when its title character had a child out of wedlock.
Quayle's comments outraged many Americans, particularly because the Administration opposes abortion rights and has moved to cut off federal funding to family planning clinics if counselors discuss abortion as an option.
Mrs. Clinton's speech was interrupted frequently by enthusiastic applause from the 1,200 lawyers and guests at the luncheon.
But an even more rapturous reception was extended to Hill, whose accusations that she had been sexually harassed by Judge Clarence Thomas nearly derailed his confirmation for the U.S. Supreme Court by the Senate last year.
Hill, whose testimony against Thomas was hailed Sunday by those who wore hot pink "I Believe Anita" buttons, urged her audience to stand up to sexual harassment and help toughen laws to punish its perpetrators.
"We as women who have it made may feel a comfortable distance from all of this," said Hill, who is on a yearlong leave from her teaching duties at the University of Oklahoma. But "whether we wear a suit to work or wear blue jeans, we must realize sexual harassment is a threat to us all."
The speeches came on the fourth day of the ABA's annual convention. More than 13,500 lawyers--plus another 8,000 of their friends and relatives--are in town for the event, a crush that has combined with summer tourism to fill every hotel in San Francisco.
The back-to-back speeches by Hill and Mrs. Clinton generated the convention's biggest and loudest turnout thus far.
Quayle, who stirred up a ruckus when he attacked lawyers in a speech at last year's ABA convention, had planned to attend this year. But he opted out after concluding the event would be what Quayle's spokesman David Beckwith called a "love fest with the Clintons."
For Mrs. Clinton, Sunday's luncheon represented a reunion of sorts. Herself a lawyer, she is taking a break from her practice to help her husband campaign for the presidency. Mrs. Clinton served as founding chairwoman of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, which presented Sunday's awards to Hill and five other distinguished lawyers.
After saluting women who have juggled family demands to climb to the top of the legal profession, Clinton reminded her audience that many other American women are "far less fortunate" and are "struggling just to keep body and soul together."
To help them and their children, she said, "fundamental changes in policy"--including affordable child care for working parents, broader access to health care and tougher enforcement of child-support laws--are necessary.
"Family values alone," she added in another swipe at her husband's Republican opponent, "won't feed a hungry child."