Donald Trump, sitting in his office in 1980, was asked if he wanted to run for president some day. His answer: No. "It's a mean life," he said of politics. "Somebody with the kind of views that are maybe a little bit unpopular — which may be right, but may be unpopular — wouldn't necessarily have a chance of getting elected against somebody with no great brain but a big smile," Trump told interviewer, Rona Barrett.
Neither Trump nor Rodham were yet old enough to be president then. Both were easing into the media spotlight, testing how exposure could help or harm their ambitions. Half a lifetime later, those quiet but confident baby boomers are the presumptive competitors for the presidency. She's 68, a former first lady, senator and secretary of state; he's 69, a billionaire, a brand, a media sensation. They are also probably the two most scrutinized figures on the planet right now. And so we reach back decades to find evidence of their genesis.
Shortly after her husband's inauguration to the statehouse, Clinton appeared on an Arkansas public-affairs program called "In Focus," whose host was most interested in how and why she was shirking the prim duties of a governor's wife by continuing to practice law and not (yet) using her husband's last name. This, to the host, was a liberal liability in a conservative state.
"Anita Bryant didn't take her husband's name either and I don't think that she has a liberal image," Rodham replied. "I think a lot of people have images that are in no way related to reality. And there's really not much one can do about that. Someone could come up with an image of either me or my husband, or you, that — if you were to sit down and talk with the person — would dissolve because you'd realize that your image was not in any way reflective of how that person acted or believed."
This question of image would never go away. Flash forward 36 years to October 2015, when NBC's Savannah Guthrie asked Clinton about her likability deficit. "People want to know what you really feel like," Clinton said, "and, you know, I'll admit: I'm a more reserved person than maybe some people in politics are."
By 1983, though, Clinton had moved from quiet professional to voluble advocate. After her husband was reelected as governor, the gloves (and glasses) were off. She had adopted both the Clinton surname and a faint southern accent. And, as chair of a state education committee, she revealed the version of Hillary that the rest of the nation would get to know. She was nearly 35 years old.
"The root to being somebody in this society starts with education," she said in her 1983 speech, her voice rising with the crowd's enthusiasm in that now-familiar way. "And we intend to be sure that everybody in this room, and every child in this state, is somebody!"
Trump, still also relatively unknown on the national stage in the early '80s, was asked by Tom Brokaw if he wanted to be worth a billion dollars. His answer: No.
"I just want to keep busy and keep active and be interested in what I do," he said. "And that's all there is to life as far as I'm concerned. I really — I'm not looking to make tremendous amounts of money. I'm looking to enjoy my life, and if [money] happens to go with it, that's fabulous." Flash forward to 2015, when Trump made note of his assets during his campaign announcement at Trump Tower: "The total is $8,737,540,000."