Bill (William Jefferson) Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States, in office from 1993 until 2001. Hillary Clinton was the First Lady during that time, and was a Democratic Party candidate in the 2008 presidential elections.
William Jefferson Clinton was born on August 19, 1946, as William Jefferson Blythe III, in Hope, Arkansas. His father, William Jefferson Blythe, Jr., was a traveling salesman who died in a car accident some three months before his son was born. After his death, his widow, Virginia Dell, married Roger Clinton, who was a partner in an automobile dealership, and when he was 14, Bill adopted his stepfather’s surname. It was meeting John F. Kennedy and listening to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I “Have a Dream” speech in 1963 that convinced him that he should enter politics.
Bill Clinton went to the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, receiving a bachelor of science in foreign service in 1968. He then was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England. On his return to the United States, Clinton went to Yale Law School, where he met Hillary Rodham. They were married on October 11, 1975, and their only child, Chelsea, was born on February 27, 1980.
Hillary Diane Rodham was born on October 26, 1947, at Edgewater Hospital, Chicago, Illinois. She attended Maine South High School and grew up in a conservative Republican family. At the age of 16 she campaigned for Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. Hillary Rodham then went to Wellesley College, where she developed liberal inclinations and graduated in 1969. In 1971 she worked for Senator Walter Mondale’s subcommittee on migrant workers and in 1972 started working for Senator George McGovern’s 1972 presidential election campaign.
The Clintons returned to Arkansas after completing their studies at Yale, and Bill became a law professor at the University of Arkansas. In the following year, 1974, he ran for the House of Representatives but was defeated. In 1976
Despite his popularity, Bill Clinton’s second term in the White
House was beset by scandal (with wife, Hillary, at right).
Clinton was elected attorney general of Arkansas without opposition. Two years later he was elected governor of Arkansas and, at the age of 32, was the youngest governor in the country. He spent his first term as governor working on improving schools and roads, but became unpopular over the motor vehicle tax and the escape of Cuban prisoners. In 1980 Republican Frank D. White defeated Clinton. However, in 1982 Clinton was reelected as governor and remained in office until 1992. He used these 10 years to transform Arkansas by dramatically improving the education system and introducing welfare reforms.
By 1988 Clinton was being suggested as a possible presidential candidate, given his high profile in American liberal circles. He decided not to run, although he did speak at the Democratic National Convention, gaining a much wider national profile. Following the defeat of the Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis in the 1988 elections, some Democratic Party organizers felt that Clinton should run in 1992. In that election it was thought that the incumbent George H. W. Bush would win easily because of his recent victory in the Gulf War. Clinton managed a major victory in the New York primaries, and even defeated California governor Jerry Brown in his home state. The result was that Clinton easily won the Democratic Party primaries.
In 1994 the Democratic Party lost control of Congress at the midterm elections, the first time in 40 years they lost control of both houses. It was the start of a bitter battle between Clinton and his new adversary Newt Gingrich. Despite losing control of Congress to the Republican Party in the middle of his first term, in 1996 Clinton easily won the presidential election, becoming the first Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt to be reelected.
Clinton’s second term in office was preoccupied, on the foreign policy front, by his attempts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. In July 2000 Clinton brought both Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority chairman Yasir Arafat to Camp David, but the negotiations failed. On the economic front, Clinton managed to balance the federal budget for the first time since 1969. His second term in office was overshadowed by the controversy over Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Hillary Clinton stood by her husband throughout the crisis. The Republicancontrolled House of Representatives voted to impeach Clinton for lying under oath in his denial of the affair, but the Senate voted to acquit Clinton, and he remained in office until the end of his term, which he ended with a popularity approval rating of 65 percent. The result of the Monica Lewinsky affair was that Bill Clinton had to abandon his plans for reforms of the health-care system, which had been heavily supported by his wife.
Throughout his presidency, Bill Clinton did much to improve the life of African Americans, who became some of his most loyal supporters. Certainly Clinton saw as one of his major successes the implementation of majority rule in South Africa, with the election of the Nelson Mandela government after a peaceful transition of power. Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, was also able to engage with North Korea and reduce tensions in Northeast Asia.
After completing his second term as president, Bill Clinton opened his office in the Harlem district of New York, showing his affinity for African Americans, and helped Hillary Clinton when she campaigned for a Senate seat for New York State. Since then, Bill Clinton has been active in campaigning for measures to prevent climate change, speaking at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal, Canada, on December 9, 2005, in which he was critical of the Bush administration. Through the William J. Clinton Foundation, he has also raised money for HIV/AIDS research through the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI).
Hillary Clinton was elected to the U.S. Senate on November 7, 2000, winning 55 percent of the vote to 43 percent for her Republican opponent, Rick Lazio. During her time as First Lady, many Americans openly hated Hillary Clinton, with large numbers of Internet hate sites being established. However, her election victory proved that she was popular in her own right. She not only won in the traditionally Democratic Party base of New York City by a large majority, but she also car- ried suburban Westchester County and even did well in Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, with Lazio winning in his home-base area of Long Island.
In the Senate, initially Hillary Clinton took a low profile. After the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Hillary Clinton was active in gaining funding for rebuilding projects. Hillary Clinton urged for the United States to take strong military action against Afghanistan, also highlighting the ill-treatment of women in that country by the Taliban. She voted in favor of the Iraq War Resolution, but subsequently came to disagree with the prosecution of the war in Iraq.
On domestic issues, Hillary Clinton followed the same liberal traditions that had characterized her husband’s presidency. On January 20, 2007, Hillary Clinton announced that she was forming a presidential exploratory committee to run as a candidate in the 2008 presidential elections and later officially pursued her electoral bid.
See also presidential impeachment, U.S.