In memoir excerpts, Clinton honors her mom

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by Dan Merica

CNN

Posted on May 12, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Updated Monday, May 12 at 5:34 PM

Washington (CNN) – Hillary Clinton honored her late mother, Dorothy Howell Rodham, as her life's biggest influence in excerpts from her upcoming memoir, "Hard Choices," released Sunday by Vogue magazine.

Clinton, whose first grandchild is expected this year, said that as she approaches that stage in life, she has found herself "thinking a lot about my relationship with my own mom, as an adult as well as in childhood, and what lessons I learned from her." Chelsea Clinton, Bill and Hillary Clinton's only daughter, is due to give birth this fall.

"No one had a bigger influence on my life or did more to shape the person I became," Clinton says in the Mother's Day tribute. "Mom measured her own life by how much she was able to help us and serve others. I knew if she was still with us, she would be urging us to do the same. Never rest on your laurels. Never quit. Never stop working to make the world a better place. That’s our unfinished business."

Clinton speaks about her mother more than she does other members of her family. Last month in Louisville, Kentucky, Clinton discussed how her mother, who taught Sunday school, grounded her in Methodism and showed her the faith's "concerns about social justice and compassion."

Clinton echoed those words in her book's excerpts, writing that "even in her 90s, Mom never lost her commitment to social justice, which did so much to mold and inspire me when I was growing up."

Dorothy Howell Rodham had a difficult childhood and was abandoned by her mother twice in her young years. After leaving her mother's home in Chicago, she moved in with her strict grandparents in California. She moved back to Chicago at 14 and was on her own, working as a secretary, when she met Hugh Rodham, the man she would marry.

Hugh and Dorothy Rodham raised their children in Park Ridge, a conservative and religious suburb of Chicago. When Clinton moved to Arkansas and married Bill Clinton, the couple followed and lived in Little Rock. Hugh Rodham died in 1993 and Dorothy in 2011.

Despite being fiercely private and shying away from media attention, Dorothy Rodham occasionally made campaign appearances during her daughter's failed 2008 presidential bid and helped the former first lady raise money to retire her campaign debt after the race.

Dorothy Rodham was an important influence on Chelsea Clinton, too, writes Hillary Clinton.

"For Chelsea, her grandmother was one of the most important figures in her life," Clinton writes. "Mom helped Chelsea navigate the unique challenges of growing up in the public eye and, when she was ready, encouraged her to pursue her passion for service and philanthropy. … I’m not sure if I ever saw Mom happier than at Chelsea’s wedding. She proudly walked down the aisle on Zach’s arm and exulted over her joyful, radiant granddaughter."

The Mother's Day excerpts are the first released from the upcoming memoir. The book is an important one for Clinton, the current favorite to win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination should she run. Critics have charged that her time as America's top diplomat was marked by a lack of a crowning achievement, while Clinton confidants have looked to frame those years as a success and see the book as the most potent way to do that.

Clinton has said the book begins with her accepting President Barack Obama's offer to become secretary of state and covers a range of topics, including Iran, Syria and Libya. She has joked that the memoir will be "just another light summer read" and will cover topics from "Crimea to climate change."

"Hard Choices" will be released June 10.

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