Betty Ford would have be 100 years old this year, and three days after her birthday, former Secretary of State and Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton visited Grand Rapids to take part in a celebration dubbed “America’s First Ladies: An Enduring Legacy.”
Clinton, a former first lady as well, joined Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, daughter of President Lyndon Johnson for a discussion about the impact of Betty Ford on a generation of women.
“It is such a great personal pleasure for me to be here with all of you in honor of Betty who was someone who I looked up to, who I followed, and who in my opinion was one of the most transformational Americans of the last half of the 20th century," Clinton said. "I said Americans, not First Ladies because of what she did and how she did it.”
In addition to Betty Ford’s efforts to treat drug on alcohol addiction, Clinton cited Ford’s efforts to get equal rights for women as well as establishing a national conversation about breast cancer as revolutionary.
“Betty Ford as the first lady speaking out in favor of the equal rights amendment was astonishing," Clinton said. "And she campaigned for better breast cancer treatment, and certainly she blew away the stigma of women which stood in the way of women even feeling comfortable getting examinations I can’t imagine how many lives she saved.”
Clinton for the most part did not address her 2016 presidential election loss to President Donald Trump, but did accuse the current administration of purging the state department without any thoughtful reform in mind.