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How Hillary Clinton Fared the First Time She Was in the Hot Seat

2 minute read

On Tuesday afternoon, Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to hold a press conference to take questions on last week’s revelation that she exclusively used a personal email account instead of a government account during her time as Secretary of State.

The decision to take questions on a controversy after a period of silence calls to mind a press conference Clinton gave on April 22, 1994, regarding the Whitewater scandal. Remembered by some as the “Pretty in Pink” press conference for the hue of Clinton’s suit, the 72-minute Q&A came months after reporters began demanding that the then-First Lady discuss her role in criticized commodity trades and an Arkansas land deal first reported on in 1992.

The press conference, which the Clintons had been considering for weeks but scheduled only the night before, gave Clinton the opportunity to reclaim control of the narrative, and according to press reports from the time, she nailed it. As TIME’s Michael Duffy wrote then:

What happened was a riveting hour and 12 minutes in which the First Lady appeared to be open, candid, but above all unflappable. While she provided little new information on the tangled Arkansas land deal or her controversial commodity trades, the real message was her attitude and her poise. The confiding tone and relaxed body language, which was seen live on four networks, immediately drew approving reviews.

Clinton also explained the unfavorable attention she was receiving as a reaction to the unusually high level of influence she held as a First Lady. “We don’t fit easily into a lot of our pre-existing categories,” she said of her family, “And I think that, having been independent, having made decisions, it’s a little difficult for us as a country, maybe, to make the transition of having a woman like many of the women in this room, sitting in this house.”

Her ability to muster the same measured confidence in response to criticism will undoubtedly figure prominently in her chances of sitting in that house again.

Read coverage of the 1994 press conference here, in the TIME Vault: Open and Unflappable

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Write to Eliza Berman at eliza.berman@time.com