Hillary Clinton and Mary Elizabeth (Tipper) Gore fired back Monday at Republican assaults on Mrs. Clinton and painted the GOP as a party that wants to bash "other people's families" rather than solve family problems.
"They had their chance to talk about the future . . . and instead they chose to make up stories and launch verbal grenades," Mrs. Clinton said in her first detailed reply to last week's attacks on her at the Republican National Convention in Houston.
She and Mrs. Gore gave a double-barreled response on Monday morning's talk shows, appearing on NBC's "Today" and "CBS This Morning" in interviews taped during the Clinton-Gore campaign's weekend bus tour of the Rust Belt. Also Monday, the two women were featured in a Cable News Network spot.
It was their first national exposure since last week's GOP convention, where President Bush's supporters focused on family values and aimed much of their fire at Mrs. Clinton, a Yale-educated lawyer.
Conservative Patrick J. Buchanan cast Mrs. Clinton as a radical feminist who likens marriage to slavery; Marilyn Quayle got in a more subtle dig, saying liberals are disappointed "because most women do not wish to be liberated from their essential natures as women."
Mrs. Clinton told CBS that Mrs. Quayle's remark was "a bit of an insult to today's modern women, most of whom are working mothers and struggling very hard to balance their family's needs with the family's economic needs."
At the same time, Mrs. Clinton said she didn't want to get into a "rhetorical battle" with Mrs. Quayle.
"There's no reason for us to be dividing women against women or men against women. This country needs people who want to reach beyond these boundaries and quit pointing fingers at one another," she said.
The Democrats' would-be second lady came to the defense of Mrs. Clinton over her writings on legal rights for children, which provided much of the fodder for the GOP attack.
"We've had children chained to radiators by their parents and starved to death. . . . These children should have some legal recourse," Mrs. Gore said.