TRANSCRIPT: Female Senators Sit Down With Diane Sawyer

PHOTO: When the 113th Congress is sworn in it will have a record-breaking number of female Senators and Diane Sawyer gathered them for an exclusive conversation.
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DIANE SAWYER HOSTS A ROUNDTABLE WITH FEMALE SENATORS

DIANE SAWYER: Senator Mikulski, 20 in this room. What does it mean to you?

SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI: Diane, I can't tell you the joy that I feel in my heart to look at these 20 gifted and talented women from two different parties, different zip codes to fill this room. When I came to the United States Senate 25 years ago it was only Senator Kassebaum and myself. In all of American history only 16 women had served. Now there are 20 of us. I knew I was the first Democratic woman elected in her own right, but I didn't only want to be the first. I wanted to be the first of many. And here we are today ready to be a force in American politics.

Diane Sawyer's complete interview will air on "World News" and "Nightline" tonight.

DIANE SAWYER: You have said, "Put on our suits, square our shoulders and get it done."

SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI: Square our shoulders, put your red lipstick on and fight the revolution. (LAUGHTER)

DIANE SAWYER: Go Barbara. Now, 20, it's great, but 20? 53% of the electorate was female as we know, 57-60% of college graduates are women-- are going to be women controlling 50-60% of the retail sales in this country not to mention all the h-- 80% of the health care decisions in this country. What is taking so long?

FEMALE VOICE: Oh--

DIANE SAWYER: Congratulation, but what's taking so long--

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: What's taking so long, you have to realize-- women got their own rights. We didn't get the right to vote till 1920. And it was not because of men, it was because of the suffragettes. And so it's been a fight for basic rights-- the reason the public university system was begun-- women couldn't get into various colleges. The inheritance of property, those kinds of things all developed throughout the years for this new nation.

And to a great extent it's continued today-- with certain biases in society on certain social issues whether it's the right to choose-- whether it's women in the workplace, whether it's still the-- the glass ceiling, women in the corporate hierarchy. And so what's good about this and what Barbara has said is that we have now reached the fullest in history in this body.

DIANE SAWYER: And Senator Mikulski, you were commenting on the fact that the House only recently than added a woman as a chair of a committee.

SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI: Well, the House-- issued their statement of who are gonna chair committees. There were no women-- on the list. We presume they had binders of women-- (LAUGH) and-- but nevertheless they did put one woman on. But that's the House. Here in the Senate it's based on seniority and achievement.

So in this room you have women chairing very important committees. Senator Feinstein chairs the Intelligence Committee, Senator Stabenow, agriculture. We could go around. Republican women bring incredible talent to this conversation and to this institution and are ranking members because the Democrats are in majority.

So we are there, we're in force and we're in leadership positions. But it's not just the position that we hold. I can tell you this is a can-do crowd. We want to focus on the macaroni and cheese issues as well as the macro issues, what helps families and what helps America. And we want to do--

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI: --the job.

SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW: I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt.

(DIANE SAWYER: UNINTEL)

SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW: Diane, I wanted to just add to that because-- it was in 2000 when a number of us came in that we had 13 women. And it was the first time in 2001 when we had enough women to actually be on every committee, to have a woman's voice, a woman's experience-- a woman's values on every committee. You fast forward to now, the new year. There will be six of us chairing committees and other women in the ranking member spot. And so huge difference in the last decade. And I think the public understands to get things done we're the ones that want to work across the aisle to do that.

DIANE SAWYER: So--

SENATOR BARBARA BOXER: But can I say I think that until we get to 50-- we still have to fight because-- it's still a problem. We are underrepresented, women are. You make the point, the majority of the population: women. The majority of health care decisions: women. And the majority now even in law school-- law sch-- graduates: women.

And if I could say when I came to the House, and that was a long time ago, there were-- women were about 5%. Now they're 20%. It took them 30 years to go from 5% to 20%. In the Senate we went from 2% to 20% in 20 years. So we're doing better here. And I think this class as you look around, Republicans and Democrats-- women in the Senate, I think that because of this new class and the-- the caliber of the people coming and the quality of the people coming, I think that hopefully in my lifetime-- and I really do hope and pray this is the case, we will see 50%. But--

DIANE SAWYER: Senator Collins though, you've been wary of st-- women's issues as opposed to all issues being women's issues. Twenty women going to change something central? Is it a quantum shift in leadership in some way?

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS: It is. I think if we were in charge of the Senate and of the administration that we would have a budget deal by now. (LAUGHTER) (UNINTEL)--

(OVERTALK)

DIANE SAWYER: Do you all believe that?

(OVERTALK)

DIANE SAWYER: Senator Ayotte, you believe that too, it would be done?

SENATOR KELLY AYOTTE: Well, I think that-- you know, women are great problem solvers. And so-- you know, I don't know if it would get done, but I know that the people here are committed to making sure that we solve our problems.

DIANE SAWYER: And how is that different from the men here?

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR KELLY AYOTTE: Well, I think the men are as well. I mean, I think to say that men aren't focused on solving problems wouldn't-- wouldn't be accurate. And-- I think that many of our male colleagues, I-- I have to say, have been very supportive since I've come in the Senate as well.

FEMALE VOICE: But I do think women--

DIANE SAWYER: L-- let-- (UNINTEL) let Senator Collins finish.

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS: --let me just-- let me just finish my thought on that. And Claire is a perfect example. Claire and I have worked together on so many different issues. Barbara and I have, Patty and I have, Amy-- I mean, I could go down-- the whole list of people here. And what I find is with all due difference to-- deference to our male colleagues, that women's styles tend to be more collaborative.

Now, that doesn't mean that we think alike, and it doesn't mean that we don't span the ideological spectrum. And I always push back the idea that there are women's issues. Because every issue from war to taxes to education affect women in this country. And that's why the point of having women be represented on all committees and leading many of them is so important.

DIANE SAWYER: Go ahead--

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL: Well, this is-- this is by nature a combative place because you-- it's-- in some ways it's like a team sport, red shirts and blue shirts. So the issue is can women get beyond the team mentality, us against them, and become problem solvers? I think by nature we are less confrontational and more collaborative. And having us in the room-- and I think-- you know, all of us, not only do we want to work in a bipartisan way, we do it. We actually work together, Republicans and Democrats-- and women-- to try to look at solving the problem rather than just going political points.

DIANE SAWYER: But are you really all r-- ready to say this-- next year is the year gridlock is broken?

(OVERTALK)

FEMALE VOICE: --we have to be--

FEMALE VOICE: Yeah, that's-- that's a different question.

SENATOR JEANNE SHAHEEN: --we have to be in positions of power in order to make sure that gridlock is broken. But if you look at two really good examples from the last session, Senator Stabenow worked with her-- Republican colleague on agriculture to get an ag bill done. And it's being held up now in the House. Senator Boxer worked with her Republican colleague, Senator Inhofe, and they're about as far apart as-- ideologically I think--

FEMALE VOICE: As you can get.

SENATOR JEANNE SHAHEEN: --as any of us in the Senate. And they were able to get a transportation bill done. So I think there are really good examples that show when women are in those positions of power they can actually get things done in a way that-- has been difficult to date for--

SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU: Diane, I just want to say--

FEMALE VOICE: --some of the men.

SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU: --even more-- even more basic-- and I agree with everything that's been said. I mean, if you think about the way God created the earth and the world and the people he just didn't give all the brains to one half the population. And so what happens is when, you know, you've got half the population, women, sitting on the sidelines, you're running the world with half the brains, half the talent, half the skill and half the ability.

So what I like to see when I look around and see all these extraordinary women is I hope the young girls in the world will say, "I have something to offer. I have something to give." And you know what? The fact is they do, they have a lot whether it's here in the Senate, here in the House, in corporate board rooms, on television stations. You know, and that's, I think, what's exciting about us being here. I think it encourages them to think, "What I have to offer is significant and I will do so."

SENATOR KAY HAGAN: Diane, on-- on that point I think if you look at research women tend to be mentored and encouraged to run for office-- versus-- our male counterparts who just tend to jump right in. There could be some disagreement here. But I think when-- when-- it's an opportunity whenever I speak to school groups and in particular any sort of groups with young women in it I've always encouraged them, "I am recruiting you right now to run for office whether it's the local school board, county commissioner, city council all the way up to-- to federal office-- Senate, House, president." It is critical that we, as Senator Landrieu said, encourage young women to take that next step and actually file and run for office.

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: Well, when I first got here-- Olympia Snowe volunteered to be my Republican mentor. And there's so many women-- we stand on their shoulders. And so when Deb got here-- from Nebraska as the newly elected Republican senator she asked me to be her mentor. So I think there's just a lot of collaboration between the women senators and-- and advice and really standing up for each other that you don't always see-- with the men.

DIANE SAWYER: So what is-- what is it you told her you wish you had known when you first walked in? (LAUGH)

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: When I first walked in? We haven't had that secret talk yet. (LAUGHTER)

DIANE SAWYER: You can tell us.

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: Well, of course we have these--

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: --women's dinners where we-- we have these women dinners where we-- always talk. We always say what's said in that room stays in that room. And of course we never talk about the male senators. (LAUGHTER) (UNINTEL) never.

FEMALE VOICE: And there's a wonder--

FEMALE VOICE: Diane, can I just file--

FEMALE VOICE: Diane--

SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI: --a (UNINTEL) on Senator Klobuchar's comments. In-- in the mid 1990s there was really the rise of prickly relationships in the Senate, and it was then one of our colleagues that's new retired, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, came up with the idea of us just getting together for purposes just through civility and collegiality to know each other.

Out of that what else we have developed I think is a sense of collegiality, bipartisanship and treating each other with respect. And I'll tell you what-- and that's kind of fading from the Senate. This is no longer a club, okay, it is a contact arena. The other thing is a sense of timeliness. I can tell you every single one of these women has great pressure on them not only for their constituents, but their families. We don't believe in the culture of delay.

In this institution if they can delay a problem, pick an argument-- and wait till next year they'll do it. Us, we want to get it done. And I think that's the impact when women are chairing these committees to involve, to listen, mutual respect, mutual trust and get the job done.

DIANE SAWYER: Let me try to be a little specific though. What difference can you concede to tell us it will make say on immigration reform to have this number? Will it change anything practical on immigration reform? Senator--

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR MAZIE HIRONO: I-- I-- I think numbers matter. And-- when you did a program a number of years ago when there were 16 senators and there was a lot of talk about collaboration, it's not just talking about it. We had-- the opportunity to-- campaign jointly with many of the people who are sitting here. And the synergy of all of us being together-- being problem solvers-- because that's what you have to be to get elected as a woman in this country--

DIANE SAWYER: But Senator Gillibrand--

SENATOR MAZIE HIRONO: --(UNINTEL) the immigration-- I am an immigrant myself, so that's one of the big issues facing our country, comprehensive immigration reform. And I'm looking forward to working collaboratively with everyone here on that issue that affects millions of people in this country.

DIANE SAWYER: But is it going to change because--

SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU: I'll give you a specific on immigration reform. And I think this could come (NOISE) naturally to us. There's a big issue right now about stem, about science, technology, engineering and math and extending immigration visas for doctoral candidates. The f-- when I first heard that I thought it was a great idea. But my thought was, "I wonder about their spouses. Are they gonna get visas as well?"

I mean, I don't know if a man would have thought of that. I mean, I think a perspective-- when we're doing immigration reform we're thinking of not just the individuals (THROAT CLEARING) (UNINTEL) the visa but the family, their relationships with children or with-- you know, I think that's just one example. There could be many more. But without a woman at the table that might not come up. It could, but it may not. I think it comes up more quickly--

DIANE SAWYER: Okay, let me try to--

SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU: Now, whether we can solve that problem, I don't know. But I think we bring a little bit--

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Diane--

SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU: --a broader perspective to some of those debates.

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: I-- I agree completely with-- with Mary. I think what women bring to the table is often their different life experience. And we are often very good at finding core common values that we share. In my own personal experience I've only been successful in the Senate because of women Republican-- Republicans who have helped me be successful.

So when working on the (UNINTEL) Act it was Susan Collins who led the charge, the same with the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. When I was desperately trying to get health care for our first responders it was Lisa Murkowski who was helping me navigate through the Republican Caucus about how to create a bill that ultimately was passed unanimously.

And just last week when we were doing the armed services authorization I had an amendment about children with disabilities and-- and Patty Murray made that bill better to make sure it covered all children with disabilities so that children with autism and other disabilities could get basic treatment. Every woman in-- woman in the Senate voted for that amendment, it winded up to be 69 votes, but every woman agreed on that. So it's-- it's-- yes-- as Susan says we don't agree on everything, but we can more easily find common core values that we share and then we build around there.

So on your question about immigration there will be something that has commonality in that that we will find to support and bring together. And so if we're ever gonna fix Washington I believe it's women who are going to lead the way. And in fact, when I saw President Obama a few weeks ago I told him about our quarterly dinners and I said, "Mr. President, if you want to see bipartisanship in Washington invite the women senators to help you get it done." And he loved the idea and he plans to invite us to the White House.

DIANE SAWYER: Are you all going? (LAUGHTER)

(OVERTALK)

DIANE SAWYER: Okay, another question then on this highly polarized and as we saw certainly during primaries and during the campaign question of reproductive issues and choice and rights, without arguing those. Do you feel as a group that it is time for women in particular to be the people speaking out about these-- I saw, couldn't retrieve the exact statistics, but the percentage of time these issues were being addressed by your male colleagues as-- as opposed to the female, is it time-- let me just go around the room, Senator-elect Fischer-- anyone weigh in please. Is it time for the women to be the ones speaking most often and prominently about these issues?

SENATOR JEANNE SHAHEEN: You know, I think most women believe that those are very personal decisions that should be made by women and their families. And we may disagree on whether we think-- what we think about abortion, about reproductive health decisions, but I think most of us would agree that the government doesn't have a place in that. It's really individual families who should make those decisions.

DIANE SAWYER: Anyone want to bring a different point of view or--

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS: I'm pro choice, so I don't disagree with what my friend, Jeanne, just said. But I think those issues should be settled and should not be the main focus of debate. To me those issues, Roe v. Wade, is settled law and I don't know why we would want to keep bringing those issues up. I think we should be focusing like a laser on job creation, the economy, health care, education, foreign policy, national security. Those issues to me are settled.

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: --Senator Collins, I-- I don't think they are entirely settled, I mean, that's the problem is that there were amendments introduced to say that women wouldn't have-- access to health insurance coverage for birth control. There was a question raised about whether or not-- we'll really have enforcement of equal pay for equal work laws.

You know, I have to say I was really shocked that those are powerful issues in 2012. I would like to think those things are settled. But they were forced forward as issues by people who thought that women should not have that kind of access. And boy, if that's the case, then we better stand up and we better speak out--

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: But-- but if Congress was 51% women you can bet your bottom dollar we would not be debating contraception--

VOICES: Exactly. Exactly right.

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: --(UNINTEL) the urgency of our communities dictate a debate about the economy and about everything else. And that's why it matters to have women's voices in Congress I believe.

SENATOR PATTY MURRAY: I think that's the frustration that many women in the country have, it's certainly one that I think a lot of us have. We think we should be talking about transportation infrastructure or economic development or how to solve the budget deficit. And we keep facing these amendments on abortion, it's like can't you just leave that alone--

SENATOR BARBARA BOXER: Always brought by men.

FEMALE VOICE: --I think that's what Susan is--

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR BARBARA BOXER: Always-- always brought by men, Diane. I-- I-- I've been fighting this battle for so many years, I don't even want to say how many 'cause-- I-- it's been a long time. And every time it's men who come down to the floor to dictate to women, you know, what health care means to us and to interfere with those decisions. And I couldn't agree more with-- with Sue Collins, I think she's absolutely right on this point. And Elizabeth's right too.

I mean, Susan's making a point. It's decided, let's move on, we have so much to do. And Elizabeth pointing out, but unfortunately it's not over, and it's always the men that bring these issues up. Honestly, even women here who agree with some of those men don't go to the floor and raise the issues. It's always the men who raise those issues.

SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW: And this is concerning at this point which is why I think all of us-- having 20 women will make a difference. We are debating equal pay for equal work, which you would think would have been dealt with a long time ago and is in fact an economic issue. Women's health choices, but also domestic violence, you know, there were many of us-- back in the '70s-- I led a local county board of commissioners and developed the first domestic violence shelter back in the '70s when it was viewed as controversial at the time. Fast forward to today, usually funding domestic violence shelters is something done on a voice vote in the Senate. And yet after passing it in the Senate and everyone working on it, it's--

FEMALE VOICE: And everyone voted--

FEMALE VOICE: --held up in the House.

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW: All the women-- all the women voted.

FEMALE VOICE: All the women voted for it--

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: Dianne and I serve on the judiciary committee (UNINTEL) tell you all 17 women voted for that bill, Democrats and Republicans--

SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW: But who would have thought?

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: --and it's stuck over in the House right now.

SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW: Who would have thought that-- that as we-- come into 2013 we would be debating something as basic as making sure a victim of domestic violence would be able to have the support and the tools and law enforcement would be able to have the tools they need to protect victims.

DIANE SAWYER: Okay, I want to hear from the senators and senators-elect we haven't heard from for sure, too. And time is-- can't stand it, it's already getting close. But just to talk about the presidency for a moment here. How many of you absolutely know America is ready to elect a female president?

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW: Absolutely.

DIANE SAWYER: Easy. How many of you think there will be a nominee, a female nominee in 2016?

(OVERTALK -- MANY RAISE HANDS)

SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW: Hope so. (LAUGH)

SENATOR KAY HAGAN: We hope so.

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: Can we sign up for that, get it done? (UNINTEL).

DIANE SAWYER: Is there a president in this room? (LAUGH)

FEMALE VOICE: Maybe.

SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI: Oh yes--

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: (UNINTEL) 20 of them.

VOICES: Twenty. Twenty.

DIANE SAWYER: Twenty of them?

SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI: A succession of them.

DIANE SAWYER: Yes?

SENATOR PATTY MURRAY: You know, I think the thing is-- is that every man wakes up in the morning and looks in the mirror and says, "I could be president." I think every woman looks in the mirror and says, "What can I get done for my country today?"

(OVERTALK)

DIANE SAWYER: Wait a minute, not one of you in this room looks in the mirror and says, "I could be president"?

FEMALE VOICE: It's doubtful, but--

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, you may think it from time to time-- (LAUGHTER)

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: --no, usually when you're very frustrated you think, "I could get this-- if I were president I could get this done." (LAUGHTER)

SENATOR JEANNE SHAHEEN: But-- but I think Kay's point--

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Can I say something about women?

SENATOR JEANNE SHAHEEN: --is the really good one.

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: I don't want people who watch this show to think we're some kind of a sorority because we're not. We're all-- we all march to the sound of different drummers to some extent. And we all have, I think, an area of effectiveness. I think one of the things that we have done throughout our career is earned a portfolio of expertise. We have worked our way up, we have done our apprenticeship. We understand how government should function and we want to play a role toward that positive functioning.

This is one of the reasons I think women become effective originally, that they can sound that call. Another reason I think, you know, we're less on testosterone. (LAUGH) We don't have that need to always be confrontational. And I think we're problem solvers, and I think that's what this country needs.

SENATOR LISA MURKOWSKI: I want to go back to-- to the question about the presidency though because you're asking (THROAT CLEARING) us if any of us are looking at this as a title. And I don't know about the rest of you, but I didn't come because I wanted to have senator placed in front of my name. It was because of what I wanted to do for the people in the state of Alaska that I care really passionately about.

And I do, when I look in the mirror it's, "Okay, what are we gonna do to-- to lower the price of fuel, to-- to help with the fish disaster, to deal with some of the transportation issues." And it's-- maybe that's some of the difference here. It's-- it's the task that you sign up for, it's the task that you volunteer to do to-- in-- in-- in service. And it's not so much about the title.

And maybe it is the testosterone that you speak to, Dianne, or the ego that is attached there. But I look at-- at what I have been asked to do by the people of Alaska, and it's pretty serious stuff. And it's not the title, but it's the responsibility that comes with the service that I think makes a difference.

DIANE SAWYER: Senator Cantwell, what did-- what was the biggest surprise to you, male/female leadership, when you got here? What was the thing that surprised you the most?

SENATOR MARIA CANTWELL: The biggest thing I've been surprised about is that if you look at the 200-plus years of our country that there have only been 39 women elected to the United States Senate. And about half of those-- were people that either served one day or one year or filled the term of their spouse.

And so while we're very proud of 20 here today and we've already dis-- discussed how women leave the ego at the door and are more natural consensus builders, we have so much more to do. And if the major issue of our era right now is the stalemate of Congress, then the message to the American people should be elect more consensus builders to get the job done.

SENATOR MAZIE HIRONO: And that's women.

DIANE SAWYER: So Senator-elect, you have a question-- if they could-- they would tell you something at that dinner that they won't tell (LAUGHTER) (UNINTEL) even if they won't answer it what's the-- what would you really like to know about the real experience of trying to get something done here?

SENATOR TAMMY BALDWIN: B-- before I jump into that I-- I just want to say that-- I agree so much with the leaving the ego at the door, but what we don't leave at the door is our life experience. It's not like you check it like a coat check before you walk into work. You bring it with you and it informs the debate.

And when there were just two those two had a powerful impact on the debates they were having, the conversations they were having with their colleagues. And as we have more and more we change the texture of those conversations and those debates also because we involve our own life experiences. I also want to say something about the prospect of-- a woman president and-- sort of tack onto what-- Senator Hagan said about being-- women needing to be asked oftentimes to consider.

I know that I wanted to make a difference. One of the most powerful moments for me in thinking about how I would make that difference was in the year that I graduated from college watching Geraldine Ferraro cross the stage at the Democratic National Convention and accept the nomination as vice president. And I was a newly minted double major in mathematics and political science.

And I said to myself, "I can do anything. The sky's the limit." I had to have no-- checks on my aspirations. And I think that's why we're a very different place and maybe why we all raised our hands when we thought about the prospect of seeing a woman president in our lifetimes and-- even in the near future is because we have now seen so many women who are well equipped at this moment to do that job-- that-- that it now seems so-- so much more possible.

SENATOR KELLY AYOTTE: I'd love to share my favorite story-- since I got elected which is-- and-- And Jeanne's heard this. But my daughter-- I have two children, I have a five-year-old little boy and an eight-year-old little girl, Kate. And she came home one day and she said to me, "Mom, I don't want you to run for president."

And I looked at her and I said, "Kate, I'm not running for president. There's nothing--" I said, "But wh-- why? Why do you ask me that?" And she said, "Mom, because I want to be the first woman president." (LAUGHTER) So you think about the impact that you have--

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR KELLY AYOTTE: --and the modeling of what-- what-- what do the young women see, and from my daughter's perspective it was like, "I've seen my mother in elected office and this is, you know--"

SENATOR BARBARA BOXER: Well, she better call Hillary. (LAUGHTER)

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL: Did you break the news to her we're not waiting that long? (LAUGHTER)

(OVERTALK)

FEMALE VOICE: We are not waiting, that's right.

SENATOR KELLY AYOTTE: Claire, I did not want to break that news.

SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL: I wouldn't have either.

SENATOR KELLY AYOTTE: What I said is, "Listen, your mom's gonna campaign across the country for you."

DIANE SAWYER: There you go. Good answer.

FEMALE VOICE: But you know--

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: One thing that's changed in my lifetime from when I first ran for office--

DIANE SAWYER: From the year of the woman as it was (UNINTEL).

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: --when I first ran from off-- for office women--

DIANE SAWYER: (UNINTEL) for office?

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: --wouldn't-- for office. Women wouldn't support other women necessarily. It was very difficult. This was 1969. Today it's very different. I remember talking before a group way back then of the young president's organization and-- the woman said, "What can I do to help you?" And I said, "Well, you know, I'm trying to raise some money if you could help in that regard."

She said, "I'll go home and ask my husband." That doesn't happen today. Women have come forward, women are proud of us. There is in my view no jealousy, no envy which once was there. There is an understanding of the arena. There is a sense that we carry them with us when we go. And so I really think that the electorate has changed in this regard. Women can be mobilized and women can cast that vote and really be effective. And you see it in race after race--

(OVERTALK)

FEMALE VOICE: And the number one fundraiser in the country this cycle--?(GESTURES TO ELIZABETH WARREN)

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL: --raised more money than any other candidate for the U.S. Senate-- that is a sea change because there were many, many times that women failed because they had not-- were not comfortable with, had not gotten the skill of networking in order to raise the money you've gotta raise unfortunately.

FEMALE VOICE: But--

SENATOR PATTY MURRAY: And Diane, I think that-- one of the reasons that you see women work well together and try to accomplish things is because we do have that sense of responsibility. And I remember when it was just six of us back in 1992 actually saying to each other, "We want to succeed not just for us but so that other women will come here too." And Senator Mikulski led us in that. So if you want to succeed for other women to be able to be successful, then you want to accomplish things. And I think that's something we all share.

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: Someone once said that-- someone once said that women candidates speak softly and carry a big statistic (LAUGHTER) and I do not-- I do not agree with the speaks softly part, but the carry the big statistic idea is what Patty was just referring to, that we have to be more accountable. We are the pioneers out here for other women and we have to show that we can actually get this done.

FEMALE VOICE: And--

DIANE SAWYER: Senator Fischer, I saw you nodding your head.

SENATOR DEB FISCHER: I just came through a very historic election in Nebraska. I'm the first woman to be elected as United States senator. I'm the first rural senator since the early 1970s. I'm the-- first in a long time to be-- directly elected from the state legislature to the United States Senate and someone who's-- directly involved in agriculture. It's been a long time.

So the-- it was an historic election. But what was really fun about it were the number of mothers and fathers who brought their daughters up to me during the campaign and said, "Can we get a picture? Can we get a picture?" Because people realize it and-- things do change, things do change.

FEMALE VOICE: But--

SENATOR DEB FISCHER: But I think it all comes into play. It's not just-- it's not just gender. You know, we all have-- different life experiences as Tammy said that we're bringing here whether you're from a very urban area or a very rural area, whether you're a woman or a man-- what your occupation is, what your family experiences are, those are the-- those are the experiences that will change this country.

FEMALE VOICE: That's kind of the--

SENATOR MAZIE HIRONO: I agree. When diversity is represented, you know, in-- not just in terms of gender but race, then that makes for in my view a stronger country, and we have a ways to go. And I'm glad that more women are getting involved in politics. And-- and I tell you, I give-- my hat's off to Kirsten for pushing forward with her Off The Sidelines-- program because I think that makes real difference in-- in a practical way to get more women-- engaged in politics-- to learn how to raise money, to write those checks, that's still not that easy for women.

SENATOR JEANNE SHAHEEN: It's not maybe, and one of the-- one of the responsibilities I think all of us feel-- I-- I know I do, is that even though we've broken the glass ceiling there are an awful lot of women-- throughout the country and throughout the world who still face enormous challenges. And one of the things that we've gotta do is to continue to open doors for women in all sorts of areas where they are still underrepresented, underpaid and undervalued.

DIANE SAWYER: Senator Warren and Senator Feinstein and then--

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: I was just gonna say one other thing. If you take a big issue that men have not been able to solve, it's the issue of climate change. Barbara has headed that for us for a number of years, she's gotten people together. You listen to speakers, you talk about it. We've had three bills up, every bill has failed in the Senate, and yet climate is changing and the earth is warming.

What would happen if 20 of us cosponsored a bill? What would happen if we went out and mobilized American women to support that bill? It may-- (CAR HORN) this may be a real point of major differentiation that we could get this done for America and essentially lead the way.

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR BARBARA BOXER: From your lips to God's ears? (LAUGHTER)

SENATOR BARBARA BOXER: --I'm with you, Dianne.

FEMALE VOICE: We're in. We're in.

FEMALE VOICE: And I think--

DIANE SAWYER: Senator--

SENATOR TAMMY BALDWIN: --on that topic I think that there's-- unique capability of being able to think about the effect of-- our actions today on generations hence that women share. And that's been what has perplexed-- other legislative bodies trying to grapple with something where the biggest effects of a vote tomorrow might not be felt for 50 or 60 years. But we have that long range vision.

DIANE SAWYER: I'm gonna ask if we can because-- just to bring in the picture, some of you were able to get (UNINTEL), those of you who weren't, we're gonna find them anyway. But (LAUGH) if you could just hand out the-- if you could leave them face down just for our cameras until I say that you should turn them over. (LAUGH) Then not everyone could get back to us, but some of you--

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Oh, baby pictures.

DIANE SAWYER: --could, so you may turn them over now and show each other if you will.

(OVERTALK)

FEMALE VOICE: Look how cute.

DIANE SAWYER: And what-- I'd really be grateful in our final few minutes (UNINTEL) each of you with and without your pictures. (UNINTEL) talk not just to girls but to boys too, little boys as well about-- if you could just give them one sentence about what to aim for, what you know (UNINTEL) I guess it's an Oprah-- copyright, but what you really do know with all certainty that you must do, you must aim for in your life. Senator Collins? We'll-- we'll just go down the row (UNINTEL).

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS: I tell children to not be afraid to take risks and not be afraid to fail, that in order to achieve your dream sometimes you fall short. But if you keep trying, if you believe in yourself you will get there.

DIANE SAWYER: Senator Mikulski? That little girl--

SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI: Don't I look cute and dainty here (LAUGHTER) just the way I do today? My little saying is this. My father had a little neighborhood grocery store. And every day h-- very early in the morning he and my mother would go over and open it. And he would say to his customers, "Good morning, can I help you?" Every day if you wake up and think about someone other than yourself and say, "Good morning, can I be of help?" Then you'll make a world that is better, you'll make a difference and you'll work with others to make change.

(DIANE SAWYER: UNINTEL)

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: Stand up straight. (LAUGH) It's pretty straightforward.

SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL: And I sat up in my chair (LAUGHTER) (UNINTEL).

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN: And when I was ten years old and got that advice from my Uncle (UNINTEL) he added that it was okay to be taller than the boys. (LAUGHTER) It was good advice.

SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL: I would say knowledge is power. You know, if you really work hard at learning and trying to learn as much as you can about as much as you can that no matter what your dream is you have a really good chance of achieving it.

SENATOR JEANNE SHAHEEN: Do what you love and keep at it. Persistence is about 95% of success.

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: This is my dad and me when we went bike riding. We went 1,100 miles in ten days-- from Minneapolis to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. And I would say once you've gone 100 miles you can always go ten more. That's what I learned from that trip.

SENATOR KAY HAGAN: Read, read, read. Everything we do today is focused on education, on-- and how that's gonna impact our future. When I sign pictures to classrooms that go across North Carolina I add, "Read, read, read."

SENATOR DEB FISCHER: I would say do what you love because if you do a job or if you have a vocation that you truly love you will be successful, but more importantly you'll be happy.

SENATOR PATTY MURRAY: I'd say never let anybody tell you you can't do something or can't achieve something. I've always found that if someone tells you you can't do something it's usually because they're afraid you will. (LAUGH)

SENATOR BARBARA BOXER: My advice is when somebody tells you it's complicated, it's really not (LAUGH) and break it down and find the way and solve the problem.

DIANE SAWYER: Why don't we start back here?

SENATOR KELLY AYOTTE: My advice would be to listen more than you speak-- and that if-- find-- listen to other people and you-- you'll be so surprised what you can learn and also-- how you can find people to work with to solve problems.

SENATOR TAMMY BALDWIN: I'd say dream big and ignore the naysayers, the cynics and the keepers of the status quo. (LAUGH)

SENATOR MARIA CANTWELL: Me? I have this interesting moment that happened in my campaign where we were having a debate. My mother just happened to be sitting in the front row. And as my opponent criticized me and critiqued me my mother kept grimacing. And finally I said to her in the middle of the debate, "Don't worry Mom, I can take care of myself." (LAUGH)

And the reaction from that line from-- parents all over-- who are raising little girls or little boys, it was a moment that showed that women can be in battle and stand up for themselves. And I think that is the point. Don't be afraid to take on that challenge that you want and demonstrate that women are unique in how we do battle, but we can be very successful.

SENATOR LISA MURKOWSKI: Learn something every day. Doesn't make any difference whether you're in kindergarten or whether you are a senior. You should be learning something every day. And don't be afraid to push yourself to learn. I have on my refrigerator along with various pictures of my boys at different stages of their life and the nieces and the nephews, I have-- a little saying that came from-- a card that somebody sent. And it says, "Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone." And just remember every day to just push yourself to learn something new.

(DIANE SAWYER: UNINTEL)

SENATOR MAZIE HIRONO: My mother who changed my life by bringing me to this country showed me, not told me to take risks and never give up.

DIANE SAWYER: You were eight--

SENATOR MAZIE HIRONO: I was-- almost eight, Uh-huh (AFFIRM). There are no baby pictures of me in Japan. (LAUGH)

SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Well, the lesson that my grandmother taught me that I tell my children is there's nothing you can't do, but you have to put your mind to it and you have to work very, very hard. And I think that's true. And I particularly like to give that message to young girls because oftentimes they need that self confidence to move forward to do the next thing.

But there's-- a message I also give my boys 'cause for some reason boys think there is nothing they can't do. (LAUGH) I really focus my message for them more on helping others. And I tell them the greatest gift in the world is the ability to help someone else. And even at the youngest age-- I have a four-year-old and a nine-year-old, they get such joy out of doing things for others.

And when we were hit with-- with Hurricane Sandy they looked through all their toys, all their books, all their clothes and make packages for the children whose homes were destroyed. And I can tell you they are better children and they will be better adults because of it.

SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW: I always was told to be (CAR HORN) courageous, believe in yourself, and no matter what you are doing, what job it is, large or small, do your very, very best. And that's the way that you'll continue to have no regrets in life.

SENATOR BARBARA FEINSTEIN: I believe the world is made up of problem solvers and problem makers. And the former is really what we need more of. (LAUGH)

SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU: My parents always told me to never quit, be determined, to be focused but also to live with a grateful heart. Everyone will come into the world with different circumstances and will attain different-- but-- but if you live with a grateful heart you'll be happy and be able to serve well.

DIANE SAWYER: Again I thank you. And it's a great way to-- to-- that's Archimedes, right, give me-- just give might the l-- leverage and I'll change the world, right.

(OVERTALK)

DIANE SAWYER: Looking at these 20 fulcrums in this room, climate change, we've got immigration, we've got you on the record now (LAUGH) on a lot of things here--

(OVERTALK)

SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI: And you've now seen the presidential campaign posters. (LAUGHTER)

DIANE SAWYER: We have. And with-- with thanks to the pioneers. We thank you all.

VOICES: Thank you. Thank you.

FEMALE VOICE: Thank you Diane, thank you for the opportunity.

FEMALE VOICE: Yeah, thanks for (UNINTEL).

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