"She said, 'You know, if you're going to be involved in politics you have to grow skin as thick as a rhinoceros,"' the presidential candidate said. "So occasionally, I'll be sitting somewhere and I'll be listening to someone perhaps not saying the kindest things about me. And I'll look down at my hand and I'll sort of pinch my skin to make sure it still has the requisite thickness I know Eleanor Roosevelt expects me to have."
The speech was one of a series of campaign events this week aimed at burnishing Clinton's standing among female voters, which polls show are already one of her strongest constituencies.
The New York senator began the day with an appearance on ABC's "The View," a televised chat show with a heavily female audience. She was later honored at a luncheon for the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Fund, which raises money for Democratic women candidates running for office in New York.
She planned to spend Tuesday in New Hampshire, where she was to deliver a major policy speech on balancing work and family.
The Clinton campaign released a memo Monday from senior strategist Mark Penn outlining how she had become the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination largely on the strength of her support among female voters. He noted polling showing her leading the Republican front-runner, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, in hypothetical matchups largely due to her support among women.
"She enjoys her deepest support among working and middle class women - people who care most about issues like health care and child care, issues that Hillary has worked on throughout her life in public service," Penn wrote.
Clinton typically tells audiences that while she is proud to be running for president as a woman, she should be elected because she is the best candidate. Monday, she spoke more openly of the challenges of being a woman in a campaign environment long dominated by men.
"I think there still is probably a tougher standard for women, especially running for president," Clinton said on "The View." "I mean, we've all been through it in some way or another where you go and you try to break a barrier and you try to do the best you can and people are saying, 'I don't like her clothes' or 'I don't like her hair."'
And speaking at the Eleanor Roosevelt lunch, Clinton said she gets through hard times on the campaign trail by thinking about the challenges other women face.
"People ask me all the time if it's hard. Of course it's hard," she said to laughs. "But when it gets really hard I think about a lot of these women who went before. I think about all the women I have met - women working as hard as they can, or raising children alone."
Clinton also criticized the Bush administration's record on women's issues, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court under President George W. Bush had taken steps to limit abortion rights and reverse progress on equal pay.
"Americans are ready to stand up and say, 'Enough. We did not sign up for this dangerous experiment in extremism,"' she said.