Hillary Rodham Clinton

From Academic Kids

Hillary Rodham Clinton (born October 26, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois as Hillary Diane Rodham) has been the freshman United States Senator from New York since January 3, 2001. She was First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001, as the wife of President Bill Clinton. She is a member of the Democratic Party.


Early life, education, and career

Hillary Rodham was raised in a Methodist family in Park Ridge, Illinois. Her father ran a drapery-making business and her mother was a homemaker.

Her community and her father, Hugh Rodham, were staunchly conservative and during her time as a student at Wellesley College she served as President of the College Republicans for a time. After attending the Wellesley in Washington program at the urging of Professor Alan Schechter, her political views turned left, joining the Democratic Party and writing her thesis on radical organizer Saul Alinsky.

In 1969, she entered Yale Law School, where she met her future husband, Bill Clinton. After graduation, she advised the Children's Defense Fund in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She joined the staff advising the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives in the impeachment inquiry against President Richard M. Nixon. It was then that she met Bernard Nussbaum, who would become the future White House Counsel for President Clinton.

In 1975, she moved to Arkansas and married Bill Clinton. (She did not change her name at the time.) She joined the faculty of the University of Arkansas Law School in 1975, and the Rose Law Firm in 1976. Her partners at the law firm included Webster Hubbell, who would serve in the U.S. Justice Department as Associate Attorney General during the Clinton Administration, and Vince Foster, who worked in the Clinton Administration as a deputy counsel for a brief time before he committed suicide in 1993].

First Lady of Arkansas

In 1978 Bill Clinton was elected governor of Arkansas, and Hillary served as Arkansas's First Lady for a total of 12 years. In 1980 the Clintons' only daughter, Chelsea, was born.

In 1980 Bill Clinton was defeated for reelection as governor. In 1982, as part of his successful campaign to regain the office, Hillary Rodham changed her last name to Clinton. [1] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/campaigns/keyraces2000/stories/hillary032199.htm)

During her time as First Lady, she chaired the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee, co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, and served on the boards of the Arkansas Children's Hospital, Legal Services, and the Children's Defense Fund. She also, from 1986 to 1992, served on the Board of Directors for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Cattle futures

In 1979, Hillary [then Rodham] Clinton's trades in cattle futures contracts generated criticism regarding conflict of interest. Her initial $1,000 investment generated $100,000 (a 10,000% return) [2] (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/whitewater/stories/wwtr940527.htm)by the time she ceased trading ten months later. Chicago Mercantile Exchange records indicated that $40,000 of her profits came from larger trades ordered by someone else and shifted to her account, according to Leo Melamed, the former chair of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Her lawyer and friend, James Blair, an experienced futures trader, directed her trading. According to records, the commodities broker that facilitated the trades allowed Clinton to maintain her positions even though she did not have enough money in her account to cover her activity. He reportedly did so because her friend Blair was a good client. The firm was later fined for violating Chicago Mercantile Exchange rules governing margin trading. However, Melamed concluded that Clinton had not broken any rules.

Blair was outside counsel to Tyson Foods. While Hillary Clinton said she made the decisions, Blair made most of the trades. Her situation was not unique for 1979, when large profits and losses were common in the volatile futures market.

Whitewater scandal

Far more importantly, her role as an active partner at Rose Law Firm would later become a critical factor during the Whitewater scandal, while her husband was President. While in Arkansas, the Clintons were partners with Jim McDougal and Susan McDougal in a real estate venture known as Whitewater. The McDougals also operated a savings and loan that retained Hillary Clinton's legal services at Rose Law Firm. When the McDougals' savings and loan failed in 1994, Federal investigators subpoenaed her legal billing records for auditing purposes. After an extensive, two-year search, Hillary Clinton's records were found in the First Lady's book room on the third floor of the White House and delivered to investigators in 1996. The mysterious appearance of the billing records sparked intense interest and another investigation about how they surfaced and where they had been. Shortly after the discovery of the records, Hillary Clinton made history -- she became the only First Lady ever called to testify before a Grand Jury inquiry.

The McDougals were jailed as a result of the federal investigations. Webster Hubbell from Arkansas, who also played a key role, pled guilty to felony charges of lying to federal investigators about Hillary's role in both Whitewater and the savings and loan failure. However, despite years of investigations during Clinton's presidency, neither President Clinton nor Mrs. Clinton were charged with any criminal activity. According to reports, the Clintons lost their financial investment in the Whitewater business projects.

First Lady of the United States

Portrait of the President and First Lady at the South Portico of the White House, February 2000.
Portrait of the President and First Lady at the South Portico of the White House, February 2000.

Bill Clinton was the first Baby Boomer elected to the White House, a cultural shift which generated controversy, and his wife Hillary quickly became the most politically active First Lady in American history. During the 1992 US presidential campaign then Governor Clinton made extensive use of his wife as a political asset, arguing her background and professional experiences would make her an important contributor to his administration. Both critics and supporters alike would often allude to an inevitable Clinton "co-presidency" in which both spouses would hold power.

After Clinton was elected President there was some speculation Mrs. Clinton might become a member of the cabinet, chief of staff, or obtain some other formal role within the US government. However, anti-nepotism laws that had been passed in the wake of Robert Kennedy's appointment as Attorney General limited her options. In 1993 the President asked her to chair the Task Force on National Health Care Reform, dedicated to reforming the America health care system, commonly known as the Clinton health care plan, which was rejected by Republicans in Congress and was abandoned in September 1994. Critics called it inappropriate for a First Lady to play a role in matters of public policy.

At the same time, Clinton won many admirers for her staunch support for women's rights around the world and her commitment to children's issues. She continues to be a leading advocate for expanding health insurance coverage, child immunization, and promoting public awareness of health issues. She worked on other noteworthy projects like the CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) and breast cancer research funding.

Hillary Clinton testified before a grand jury on January 26, 1996 in the Whitewater scandal proceedings, initiated primarily by independent counsel Ken Starr. Though the investigations didn't result in formal charges of wrong-doing on Hillary Clinton's part, Starr spent an estimated $40 million investigating the Clintons. Investigators also reviewed Hillary Clinton's alleged role in firing White House travel agents.

The Whitewater investigation also examined the suicide of Vince Foster. Critics of the Clintons alleged that Foster's death was not a suicide and that it had some connection to Whitewater. However, Starr's investigation as well as investigations by the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the Park Police all concluded that Foster's death was a suicide.

Relationship with Bill Clinton

Mrs. Clinton's relationship with her husband have been the subject of much speculation and gossip, especially in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal in which the President admitted to a sexual affair with a White House interim, Monica Lewinsky.

During the Lewinsky scandal, Mrs. Clinton claimed that the allegations against her husband were the result of a "vast right-wing conspiracy." After the evidence of Clinton's affair with Lewinsky was incontrovertible, she remained resolute that their marriage was solid. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton's memoirs later revealed that the revelation of the affair was a very painful time in their marriage.

For much of his political career, President Clinton had been repeatedly dogged by rumors that he was an active adulterer with a myraid of past sexual partners. These allegations gained a lot of credibility following the Lewinsky affair, and resulted in a mix of sympathy and scorn for Mrs. Clinton. While many women sympathized with her as a victim of her husband's insensitive behavior, others criticized her for showing no interest in obtaining a divorce. As Hillary Clinton is considered by many to be a very ambitious figure in her own right, a common criticism has been that her marriage has largely been one of "convenience" to further her own political career. To supporters however her perseverance in a difficult marriage has been viewed as a sign of her personal strength and loyalty.

The 2000 Senate race

Hillary Clinton is sworn in as a U.S. Senator by Vice President Gore as Bill and  look on.
Hillary Clinton is sworn in as a U.S. Senator by Vice President Gore as Bill and Chelsea Clinton look on.

When long-time New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan announced his intent to retire, speculation began over the possibility of Hillary Clinton moving to New York to run for Senate in the 2000 election. Leading New York Democrats, including Moynihan himself, urged her to run. Initially she said she would not do so, but eventually changed her mind and made a run for the seat, thus becoming the first sitting First Lady to be a candidate for elected office. While she was initially expected to face New York City's Mayor Rudy Giuliani, he withdrew after being diagnosed with prostate cancer (difficulties in his personal life at the time may have also contributed). Instead, Clinton faced a lesser-known candidate, Rick Lazio, a Congressman representing Suffolk County on Long Island. The contest drew considerable national attention and both candidates were well-funded.

During the campaign, Clinton faced charges of carpetbagging, since the Clintons neither resided in the State of New York nor participated in state politics prior to her Senate race. Opponents made this a focal point throughout the campaign race, and in debates. Her candidacy was not without precedent in New York, however: Robert F. Kennedy was elected to the Senate in 1964 under similar circumstances.

Clinton began her campaign by visiting every county in the state, in a "listening tour" of small-group settings. She spent considerable time in traditionally Republican upstate regions. A turning point in the race was a televised debate where Lazio's behavior towards Clinton was perceived as too aggressive. According to exit polls conducted in the race, more than two-thirds of the voters dismissed the "carpetbagging" issue as unimportant.

Clinton won on November 7, with 53% of the vote to Lazio's 43%. This was less than Gore's margin over Bush of 60% to 35% in the state Presidential contest. It was similar to fellow New York senator Charles Schumer's winning margin over incumbent Republican Al D'Amato in the hotly contested 1998 race but less than the margin by which Schumer would win reelection in 2004.

Senate career

In the Senate, Clinton is a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

As a senator, Clinton has made homeland security one of her top issues in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, especially regarding obtaining funding for recovery from the attacks and for improving security capabilities in the New York City area.

She has used her position on the Armed Services Committee to take strong position in favor of U.S. military action in Afghanistan and a not quite as strong position regarding action in Iraq (her vote in support of initial military action against Iraq was criticized for being equivocal), and has visited U.S. forces (such as the Fort Drum, New York-based 10th Mountain Division) in both countries.

Clinton has also pressed for education, labor, and technology infrastructure programs to assist economic development in upstate New York and similar regions.

Political observers have again credited Clinton with an effective approach upon initially joining the Senate. To counter her polarizing celebrity, she kept a low public profile and learned the ways of the institution, while building relationships with senators from both sides of the aisle. Indeed when Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) joined the Senate in 2003 in somewhat similar circumstances, she modeled her initial approach after Clinton's.

Clinton's writings and recordings

Hillary Clinton's signature
Hillary Clinton's signature

As First Lady, Clinton was a prolific author. She wrote a weekly newspaper column entitled "Talking It Over", focusing on her experiences and her observations of women, children, and families she encountered during her travels around the world.

Her 1996 book, written by ghostwriter Barbara Feinman, was It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us. It became a best-seller, and she received the 1997Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for her recording of it. Other books released by Clinton as First Lady include An Invitation to the White House and Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets.

Clinton's memoirs, Living History (ISBN 0743222245), written with the possible involvement of three unnamed ghostwriters[3] (http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=833&id=623352003), were released in 2003. The book sold more than one million copies in the first month following publication. In anticipation of these sales, the publisher Simon & Schuster paid her an advance of $8 million—a record figure at that time. Her recording in that year of Living History earned her a second Grammy nomination in the Best Spoken Word Album category.


External links

Official links

Senate races

Possible presidential race

  • HillPAC (http://www.hillpac.com/) - Presidential Race Exploratory Committee

Preceded by:
Barbara Bush
First Lady of the United States
Succeeded by:
Laura Bush
Preceded by:
Daniel Patrick Moynihan
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New York
Succeeded by:

Template:End box

Template:NY-FedRep Template:Current U.S Senators


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