Chelsea Clinton Opens Up About Her Family's Private Side

(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton says even she doesn't know whether her mother will run for president in 2016.

"My crystal ball is no clearer than yours," she insisted at a Human Rights Campaign event over the weekend. But she did offer the audience a window into what it's been like to grow up in the Clinton political family.

"I was raised in a family where inertia is not an option," Chelsea quipped during her remarks, as the audience laughed. "If we are not making progress, we are, by definition, falling behind."

Until recently, the former first daughter led a " deliberately private life." So much so that in 2008, she came under fire for refusing to speak to a 9-year-old Scholastic kid reporter. But she has stepped into the spotlight lately with several high-profile public appearances and has more coming up.

In those speeches, the 33-year-old has vowed she's not gearing up for her own political campaign, but there is another potential candidate that stands to benefit from Chelsea's publicity: Her mom.

The hard-charging former secretary of state, who continues to be a lightening rod for critics over her handling of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, as well as for her husband's decade-and-a-half old sexual foibles, could benefit from Chelsea's efforts - intended or otherwise - to soften her mother's tough image.

During a Feb. 13 panel discussion with Clinton and philanthropist Melinda Gates, Chelsea gave the audience a rare, intimate glimpse of her relationship with her mom. She recalled calling her mother "convulsively crying" after earning a B- on a college chemistry test and described Hillary's calming response.

"I certainly never cried again, because I realized that was something I was deeply passionate about. And I was so grateful to my mom for reminding me of that," Chelsea said.

Whether or not she's hoping to bolster her mother's image, Chelsea is as passionate about gay rights as her mom is about women's rights. At the HRC conference, the younger Clinton drew a parallel between the two causes.

"My mother has often said that the issue of women's rights is the unfinished business of the 21st century - that is certainly true," she said. "But so, too, are the issues of LGTBQ rights the unfinished business of the 21st century."

"It's easy to think that progress actually marks success and that our work can stop on the steps of the Supreme Court," Chelsea said. "To me, this is fundamentally about the premise and the promise of our country, of always marching toward a more perfect union."

Chelsea has several more public appearance slated in the coming weeks, including a sold-out speech for the Starr Women's Hall of Fame in Kansas City and the keynote address at Austin's annual SXSW conference.