Despite Clinton being just a teenager, her appearance was mocked by Rush Limbaugh — who compared the child to a dog — and on Saturday Night Live

By Stephanie Petit
Updated January 23, 2017 01:44 PM
Advertisement

Chelsea Clinton won wide praise for her weekend tweet pushing back at online jokes about President Donald Trump’s youngest son, 10-year-old Barron, by asserting: “Barron Trump deserves the chance every child does—to be a kid.”

Clinton, now a mother of two young children herself, knows all too well the harsh criticism and intense pressure a first child can face. After her father Bill Clinton entered the White House in 1993 when she was just 12-years-old, Clinton found herself growing up in the political spotlight.

Bill and Hillary Clinton made a conscious effort to give Clinton a normal childhood — at least as normal as possible — by discouraging press coverage except during public events.

For the most part, press obliged. However, Clinton wasn’t immune to the unfavorable aspects of public life.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time & Life Pictures/Getty

Despite Clinton being just a teenager, she was mocked by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and in a skit on Saturday Night Live. (Executive producer Lorne Michaels later made a public apology, noting that Clinton was a child who didn’t choose to be in the public eye, and then-cast member Mike Myers wrote an apology letter to the White House.)

In an interview with PEOPLE shortly after, the 42nd president said that while he was fine with being mocked on the sketch comedy show, he felt it was “pretty insensitive to make fun of an adolescent child.”

“I think there is something pretty off-center with people who do that. But I’ve determined that I can’t control their behavior, so I’ll just have to control our response to it,” he said. “We really work hard on making sure that Chelsea doesn’t let other people define her sense of her own self-worth. I think the world would be a lot better off if more people were to define themselves in terms of their own standards and values and not what other people said or thought about them. It’s tough when you are an adolescent because peer opinion and other people’s opinion become more important. But I think she’ll be okay.”

The spotlight followed Clinton as she attended Washington’s private Sidwell Friends high school and then Stanford University.

Clinton was an 18-year-old freshman when the Monica Lewinsky scandal engulfed the nation. However, the young woman stood by her parents and led the country in forgiving her father.

The first daughter dropped out of the media’s radar as she finished college and headed to Oxford to graduate school. She then joined the consulting firm McKinsey & Company in New York City and later worked as a chemical-industry analyst on Wall Street. Clinton even joined the media she once shunned by becoming a special correspondent for NBC in 2011. She’s also immersed herself in her father’s foundation, which in 2013 was renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Patrick Semansky/AP

Clinton came back into the spotlight as a very public figure in 2008 when her mother ran for president, and again in 2016 to help Hillary clinch the Democratic candidacy before falling short to Trump in the race for the White House. Poised and confident, Clinton even introduced her mother at the Democratic National Convention.

“People ask me all the time, ‘How does she do it? How does she keep going amid the sound and the fury of politics?’ ” Clinton said. “Here’s how: It’s because she never ever forgets who she’s fighting for.”

The self-proclaimed “proud daughter” finished: “She’s a listener and a doer. She’s a woman driven by compassion, by faith, by a fierce sense of justice and a heart full of love.”

“I am so grateful to be her daughter. I am so grateful that she is Charlotte and Aidan’s grandmother. She makes me proud every single day,” Clinton said.