Hillary Clinton makes first public return to White House to announce art award recipients

 September 15, 2023

Hillary Clinton, a former first lady, U.S. senator, secretary of State, and Democratic presidential nominee, made a long-awaited public return to the White House this week.

Clinton joined current first lady Jill Biden for a celebration of the arts and to bestow a prestigious award on a number of artists, according to the Daily Mail.

It was Clinton's first public appearance at the White House since the Obama administration, though she did attend former President Donald Trump's 2017 Inauguration after he defeated her in the 2016 election and was reportedly in attendance at a private White House event in 2021.

Current and former first ladies honor the arts

The White House on Tuesday hosted a ceremony in the East Room to celebrate the recipients of this year's Praemium Imperiale, an annual lifetime achievement award for artists from the Japan Art Association.

In her opening remarks, first lady Biden said, "Secretary Clinton, Hillary, it’s an honor to welcome you back to the White House," and following a round of applause and cheers, noted, "Wow. You are so loved."

"Your lifetime of work has left an indelible mark on this country. Thank you for always doing all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can," she continued.

Then, in reference to her own role as a community college teacher and Clinton's new gig as an honorary professor teaching a class at Columbia University, added, "And if you don’t know it, Hillary is a fellow educator now. So, good luck this semester. I know you’re going to love it."

Clinton hosted first such ceremony in 1994

The Associated Press reported that Clinton took to the podium to introduce the 2023 Praemium Imperiale laureate recipients who are honored for their lifetime achievements in a number of different categories of art.

Clinton, who hosted the first such awards at the White House when she was first lady in 1994, is a U.S. advisor for the Praemium Imperiale and helps choose who will be honored as laureates.

During her own remarks at the event, Clinton said, "At a time when so much is happening to change the ways that we work and live and how we connect with one another, how we relate to the rest of the world, it’s so important for us to recognize the critical role that the arts play in helping us understand our past and present while inspiring us to create a better future."

Will likely return again soon

CNN reported that Clinton told the East Room audience, "This is such a great honor for me to be here," and added that her return to the White House brought back "a lot of great memories" from the first 1994 ceremony that she had hosted nearly 30 years prior.

She also praised President Joe Biden for reestablishing the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities which had disbanded in 2017 in protest of then-President Trump and said, "The arts invigorate and strengthen our democracy and point the way toward progress."

As noted, this was Clinton's first public appearance at the White House since before her loss to Trump in the 2016 election. However, she did begrudgingly attend his Inauguration in 2017 and also attended a private dinner in 2021 in honor of then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

It likely won't be her last, though, as the outlet reported that the "ardent supporter of the president" is expected to play a role in Biden's re-election campaign and "could be called on to motivate women and other key Democratic voters as Joe Biden vies for a second term in office."

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