Hillary Diane Clinton (née Rodham; born October 26, 1947) is an American politician, diplomat, and former lawyer who served as the 67th United States secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, as a United States senator representing New York from 2001 to 2009, and as First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001 as the wife of President Bill Clinton. A member of the Democratic Party, she was the party's nominee for president in the 2016 presidential election, becoming the first woman to win a presidential nomination by a major U.S. political party; Clinton won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College vote, thereby losing the election to Donald Trump.
|67th United States Secretary of State|
January 21, 2009 – February 1, 2013
|Preceded by||Condoleezza Rice|
|Succeeded by||John Kerry|
|United States Senator|
from New York
January 3, 2001 – January 21, 2009
|Preceded by||Daniel Patrick Moynihan|
|Succeeded by||Kirsten Gillibrand|
|First Lady of the United States|
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
|Preceded by||Barbara Bush|
|Succeeded by||Laura Bush|
|First Lady of Arkansas|
January 11, 1983 – December 12, 1992
|Preceded by||Gay Daniels White|
|Succeeded by||Betty Tucker|
January 9, 1979 – January 19, 1981
|Preceded by||Barbara Pryor|
|Succeeded by||Gay Daniels White|
|11th Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast|
|Assumed office |
January 2, 2020
|Preceded by||Thomas J. Moran|
Hillary Diane Rodham
October 26, 1947
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Political party||Democratic (1968–present)|
|Republican (before 1968)|
|Education||Wellesley College (BA)|
Yale University (JD)
|Awards||List of honors and awards|
Raised in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge, Rodham graduated from Wellesley College in 1969 and earned a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 1973. After serving as a congressional legal counsel, she moved to Arkansas and married future president Bill Clinton in 1975; the two had met at Yale. In 1977, Clinton co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. She was appointed the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation in 1978 and became the first female partner at Little Rock's Rose Law Firm the following year. The National Law Journal twice listed her as one of the hundred most influential lawyers in America. Clinton was the first lady of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and again from 1983 to 1992. As the first lady of the United States, Clinton advocated for healthcare reform. In 1994, her major initiative—the Clinton health care plan—failed to gain approval from Congress. In 1997 and 1999, Clinton played a leading role in advocating the creation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the Adoption and Safe Families Act, and the Foster Care Independence Act. Clinton advocated for gender equality at the 1995 UN conference on women. Her marital relationship came under public scrutiny during the Lewinsky scandal, which led her to issue a statement that reaffirmed her commitment to the marriage.
In 2000, Clinton was elected as the first female senator from New York and became the first First lady to simultaneously hold elected office, and then the first former First lady to serve in the Senate. She was re-elected in 2006 and chaired the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee from 2003 to 2007. During her Senate tenure, Clinton advocated for medical benefits for first responders whose health was damaged in the September 11 attacks. She supported the resolution authorizing the Iraq War in 2002 but opposed the surge of U.S. troops in 2007. In 2008, Clinton ran for president but was defeated by eventual winner Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries. Clinton was U.S. secretary of state in the first term of the Obama administration from 2009 to 2013. During her tenure, Clinton established the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. She responded to the Arab Spring by advocating military intervention in Libya but was harshly criticized by Republicans for the failure to prevent or adequately respond to the 2012 Benghazi attack. Clinton helped to organize a diplomatic isolation and a regime of international sanctions against Iran in an effort to force it to curtail its nuclear program; this effort eventually led to the multinational JCPOA nuclear agreement in 2015. Her use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State was the subject of intense scrutiny; while no charges were filed against Clinton, the email controversy was the single most covered topic during the 2016 presidential election.
Clinton made a second presidential run in 2016, winning the Democratic nomination, and ran in the general election with Virginia senator Tim Kaine as her running mate. Clinton lost the presidential election to Republican opponent Donald Trump in the Electoral College, despite winning the popular vote. Following her loss, she wrote her third memoir, What Happened, and launched Onward Together, a political action organization dedicated to fundraising for progressive political groups.
Hillary Diane Rodham was born on October 26, 1947, at Edgewater Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. She was raised in a United Methodist family who first lived in Chicago. When she was three years old, her family moved to the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge. Her father, Hugh Rodham, was of English and Welsh descent, and managed a small but successful textile business, which he had founded. Her mother, Dorothy Howell, was a homemaker of Dutch, English, French Canadian (from Quebec), Scottish, and Welsh descent. She had two younger brothers, Hugh and Tony.
As a child, Rodham was a favorite student among her teachers at the public schools she attended in Park Ridge. She participated in swimming and softball and earned numerous badges as a Brownie and a Girl Scout. She has often told the story of being inspired by U.S. efforts during the Space Race and sending a letter to NASA around 1961 asking what she could do to become an astronaut, only to be informed that women were not being accepted into the program. She attended Maine East High School, where she participated in the student council and school newspaper and was selected for the National Honor Society. She was elected class vice president for her junior year but then lost the election for class president for her senior year against two boys, one of whom told her that "you are really stupid if you think a girl can be elected president". For her senior year, she and other students were transferred to the then-new Maine South High School. There she was a National Merit Finalist and was voted "most likely to succeed." She graduated in 1965 in the top five percent of her class.
Rodham's mother wanted her to have an independent, professional career. Her father, who was otherwise a traditionalist, felt that his daughter's abilities and opportunities should not be limited by gender. She was raised in a politically conservative household, and she helped canvass Chicago's South Side at age 13 after the very close 1960 U.S. presidential election. She stated that, investigating with a fellow teenage friend shortly after the election, she saw evidence of electoral fraud (a voting list entry showing a dozen addresses that was an empty lot) against Republican candidate Richard Nixon; she later volunteered to campaign for Republican candidate Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election.
Rodham's early political development was shaped mostly by her high school history teacher (like her father, a fervent anti-communist), who introduced her to Goldwater's The Conscience of a Conservative and by her Methodist youth minister (like her mother, concerned with issues of social justice), with whom she saw and afterwards briefly met, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. at a 1962 speech in Chicago's Orchestra Hall.
In 1965, Rodham enrolled at Wellesley College, where she majored in political science. During her first year, she was president of the Wellesley Young Republicans. As the leader of this "Rockefeller Republican"-oriented group, she supported the elections of moderate Republicans John Lindsay to mayor of New York City and Massachusetts attorney general Edward Brooke to the United States Senate. She later stepped down from this position. In 2003, Clinton would write that her views concerning the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War were changing in her early college years. In a letter to her youth minister at that time, she described herself as "a mind conservative and a heart liberal". In contrast to the factions in the 1960s that advocated radical actions against the political system, she sought to work for change within it.
By her junior year, Rodham became a supporter of the antiwar presidential nomination campaign of Democrat Eugene McCarthy. In early 1968, she was elected president of the Wellesley College Government Association, a position she held until early 1969. Following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Rodham organized a two-day student strike and worked with Wellesley's black students to recruit more black students and faculty. In her student government role, she played a role in keeping Wellesley from being embroiled in the student disruptions common to other colleges. A number of her fellow students thought she might some day become the first female president of the United States.
To help her better understand her changing political views, Professor Alan Schechter assigned Rodham to intern at the House Republican Conference, and she attended the "Wellesley in Washington" summer program. Rodham was invited by moderate New York Republican representative Charles Goodell to help Governor Nelson Rockefeller's late-entry campaign for the Republican nomination. Rodham attended the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach. However, she was upset by the way Richard Nixon's campaign portrayed Rockefeller and by what she perceived as the convention's "veiled" racist messages, and she left the Republican Party for good. Rodham wrote her senior thesis, a critique of the tactics of radical community organizer Saul Alinsky, under Professor Schechter. Years later, while she was the first lady, access to her thesis was restricted at the request of the White House and it became the subject of some speculation. The thesis was later released.
In 1969, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, with departmental honors in political science. After some fellow seniors requested that the college administration allow a student speaker at commencement, she became the first student in Wellesley College history to speak at the event. Her address followed that of the commencement speaker, Senator Edward Brooke. After her speech, she received a standing ovation that lasted seven minutes. She was featured in an article published in Life magazine, because of the response to a part of her speech that criticized Senator Brooke. She also appeared on Irv Kupcinet's nationally syndicated television talk show as well as in Illinois and New England newspapers. She was asked to speak at the 50th anniversary convention of the League of Women Voters in Washington, D.C., the next year. That summer, she worked her way across Alaska, washing dishes in Mount McKinley National Park and sliming salmon in a fish processing cannery in Valdez (which fired her and shut down overnight when she complained about unhealthy conditions).
Rodham then entered Yale Law School, where she was on the editorial board of the Yale Review of Law and Social Action. During her second year, she worked at the Yale Child Study Center, learning about new research on early childhood brain development and working as a research assistant on the seminal work, Beyond the Best Interests of the Child (1973). She also took on cases of child abuse at Yale–New Haven Hospital, and volunteered at New Haven Legal Services to provide free legal advice for the poor. In the summer of 1970, she was awarded a grant to work at Marian Wright Edelman's Washington Research Project, where she was assigned to Senator Walter Mondale's Subcommittee on Migratory Labor. There she researched various migrant workers' issues including education, health and housing. Edelman later became a significant mentor. Rodham was recruited by political advisor Anne Wexler to work on the 1970 campaign of Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate Joseph Duffey. Rodham later crediting Wexler with providing her first job in politics.
In the spring of 1971, she began dating fellow law student Bill Clinton. During the summer, she interned at the Oakland, California, law firm of Treuhaft, Walker and Burnstein. The firm was well known for its support of constitutional rights, civil liberties and radical causes (two of its four partners were current or former Communist Party members); Rodham worked on child custody and other cases.[a] Clinton canceled his original summer plans and moved to live with her in California; the couple continued living together in New Haven when they returned to law school. The following summer, Rodham and Clinton campaigned in Texas for unsuccessful 1972 Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern. She received a Juris Doctor degree from Yale in 1973, having stayed on an extra year to be with Clinton. He first proposed marriage to her following graduation, but she declined, uncertain if she wanted to tie her future to his.
Rodham began a year of postgraduate study on children and medicine at the Yale Child Study Center. In late 1973, her first scholarly article, "Children Under the Law", was published in the Harvard Educational Review. Discussing the new children's rights movement, the article stated that "child citizens" were "powerless individuals" and argued that children should not be considered equally incompetent from birth to attaining legal age, but instead that courts should presume competence on a case-by-case basis, except when there is evidence otherwise. The article became frequently cited in the field.
During her postgraduate studies, Rodham was staff attorney for Edelman's newly founded Children's Defense Fund in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and as a consultant to the Carnegie Council on Children. In 1974, she was a member of the impeachment inquiry staff in Washington, D.C., and advised the House Committee on the Judiciary during the Watergate scandal. Under the guidance of Chief Counsel John Doar and senior member Bernard W. Nussbaum, Rodham helped research procedures of impeachment and the historical grounds and standards for it. The committee's work culminated with the resignation of President Richard Nixon in August 1974.
By then, Rodham was viewed as someone with a bright political future. Democratic political organizer and consultant Betsey Wright moved from Texas to Washington the previous year to help guide Rodham's career. Wright thought Rodham had the potential to become a future senator or president. Meanwhile, boyfriend Bill Clinton had repeatedly asked Rodham to marry him, but she continued to demur. After failing the District of Columbia bar exam and passing the Arkansas exam, Rodham came to a key decision. As she later wrote, "I chose to follow my heart instead of my head". She thus followed Clinton to Arkansas, rather than staying in Washington, where career prospects were brighter. He was then teaching law and running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in his home state. In August 1974, Rodham moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and became one of only two female faculty members in the School of Law at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
At the university, Rodham taught classes in criminal law. She was considered a rigorous teacher who was tough with her grades. Rodham became the first director of a new legal aid clinic at the school, where she secured support from the local bar association and gained federal funding. As a court-appointed lawyer, Rodham was required to act as defense counsel to a man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl; after her request to be relieved of the assignment failed, Rodham used an effective defense and counseled her client to plead guilty to a lesser charge. She has called the trial a "terrible case". During her time in Fayetteville, Rodham and several other women founded the city's first rape crisis center.
In 1974, Bill Clinton lost an Arkansas congressional race, facing incumbent Republican John Paul Hammerschmidt. Rodham and Bill Clinton bought a house in Fayetteville in the summer of 1975 and she agreed to marry him. The wedding took place on October 11, 1975, in a Methodist ceremony in their living room. A story about the marriage in the Arkansas Gazette indicated that she decided to retain the name Hillary Rodham. Her motivation was threefold. She wanted to keep the couple's professional lives separate, avoid apparent conflicts of interest, and as she told a friend at the time, "it showed that I was still me". The decision upset both mothers, who were more traditional.
In 1976, Rodham temporarily relocated to Indianapolis to work as an Indiana state campaign organizer for the presidential campaign of Jimmy Carter. In November 1976, Bill Clinton was elected Arkansas attorney general, and the couple moved to the state capital of Little Rock. In February 1977, Rodham joined the venerable Rose Law Firm, a bastion of Arkansan political and economic influence. She specialized in patent infringement and intellectual property law while working pro bono in child advocacy; she rarely performed litigation work in court.
Rodham maintained her interest in children's law and family policy, publishing the scholarly articles "Children's Policies: Abandonment and Neglect" in 1977 and "Children's Rights: A Legal Perspective" in 1979. The latter continued her argument that children's legal competence depended upon their age and other circumstances and that in serious medical rights cases, judicial intervention was sometimes warranted. An American Bar Association chair later said, "Her articles were important, not because they were radically new but because they helped formulate something that had been inchoate." Historian Garry Wills would later describe her as "one of the more important scholar-activists of the last two decades". Conservatives said her theories would usurp traditional parental authority, would allow children to file frivolous lawsuits against their parents, and exemplified critical legal studies run amok.
In 1977, Rodham cofounded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, a state-level alliance with the Children's Defense Fund. Later that year, President Jimmy Carter (for whom Rodham had been the 1976 campaign director of field operations in Indiana) appointed her to the board of directors of the Legal Services Corporation. She held that position from 1978 until the end of 1981. From mid-1978 to mid-1980,[b] she was the chair of that board, the first woman to hold the job. During her time as chair, funding for the corporation was expanded from $90 million to $300 million; subsequently, she successfully fought President Ronald Reagan's attempts to reduce the funding and change the nature of the organization.
Following her husband's November 1978 election as governor of Arkansas, Rodham became that state's first lady in January 1979. She would hold that title for twelve nonconsecutive years (1979–81, 1983–92). Clinton appointed his wife to be the chair of the Rural Health Advisory Committee the same year, where she secured federal funds to expand medical facilities in Arkansas's poorest areas without affecting doctors' fees.
In 1979, Rodham became the first woman to be made a full partner in Rose Law Firm. From 1978 until they entered the White House, she had a higher salary than her husband. During 1978 and 1979, while looking to supplement their income, Rodham engaged in the trading of cattle futures contracts; an initial $1,000 investment generated nearly $100,000 when she stopped trading after ten months. At this time, the couple began their ill-fated investment in the Whitewater Development Corporation real estate venture with Jim and Susan McDougal. Both of these became subjects of controversy in the 1990s.
Two years after leaving office, Bill Clinton returned to his job as governor of Arkansas after winning the election of 1982. During her husband's campaign, Hillary began to use the name "Hillary Clinton", or sometimes "Mrs. Bill Clinton", to assuage the concerns of Arkansas voters; she also took a leave of absence from Rose Law to campaign for him full-time. During her second stint as the first lady of Arkansas, she made a point of using Hillary Rodham Clinton as her name.[c] She was named chair of the Arkansas Education Standards Committee in 1983, where she sought to reform the state's court-sanctioned public education system. In one of the Clinton governorship's most important initiatives, she fought a prolonged but ultimately successful battle against the Arkansas Education Association to establish mandatory teacher testing and state standards for curriculum and classroom size. It became her introduction into the politics of a highly visible public policy effort. In 1985, she introduced Arkansas's Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youth, a program that helps parents work with their children in preschool preparedness and literacy. She was named Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1983 and Arkansas Mother of the Year in 1984.
Clinton continued to practice law with the Rose Law Firm while she was the first lady of Arkansas. She earned less than the other partners, as she billed fewer hours but still made more than $200,000 in her final year there. The firm considered her a "rainmaker" because she brought in clients, partly thanks to the prestige she lent it and to her corporate board connections. She was also very influential in the appointment of state judges. Bill Clinton's Republican opponent in his 1986 gubernatorial re-election campaign accused the Clintons of conflict of interest because Rose Law did state business; the Clintons countered the charge by saying that state fees were walled off by the firm before her profits were calculated.
From 1982 to 1988, Clinton was on the board of directors, sometimes as chair, of the New World Foundation, which funded a variety of New Left interest groups. From 1987 to 1991, she was the first chair of the American Bar Association's Commission on Women in the Profession, created to address gender bias in the legal profession and induce the association to adopt measures to combat it. She was twice named by The National Law Journal as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America—in 1988 and 1991. When Bill Clinton thought about not running again for governor in 1990, Hillary Clinton considered running. Private polls were unfavorable, however, and in the end he ran and was re-elected for the final time.
Clinton was chairman of the board of the Children's Defense Fund and on the board of the Arkansas Children's Hospital's Legal Services (1988–92) In addition to her positions with nonprofit organizations, she also held positions on the corporate board of directors of TCBY (1985–92), Wal-Mart Stores (1986–92) and Lafarge (1990–92). TCBY and Wal-Mart were Arkansas-based companies that were also clients of Rose Law. Clinton was the first female member on Wal-Mart's board, added following pressure on chairman Sam Walton to name a woman to it. Once there, she pushed successfully for Wal-Mart to adopt more environmentally friendly practices. She was largely unsuccessful in her campaign for more women to be added to the company's management and was silent about the company's famously anti-labor union practices. According to Dan Kaufman, awareness of this later became a factor in her loss of credibility with organized labor, helping contribute to her loss in the 2016 election, where slightly less than half of union members voted for Donald Trump.
Clinton received sustained national attention for the first time when her husband became a candidate for the 1992 Democratic presidential nomination. Before the New Hampshire primary, tabloid publications printed allegations that Bill Clinton had engaged in an extramarital affair with Gennifer Flowers. In response, the Clintons appeared together on 60 Minutes, where Bill denied the affair, but acknowledged "causing pain in my marriage". This joint appearance was credited with rescuing his campaign. During the campaign, Hillary made culturally disparaging remarks about Tammy Wynette's outlook on marriage as described in her classic song "Stand by Your Man".[d] Later in the campaign, she commented she could have chosen to be like women staying home and baking cookies and having teas, but wanted to pursue her career instead.[e] The remarks were widely criticized, particularly by those who were, or defended, stay-at-home mothers. In retrospect, she admitted they were ill-considered. Bill said that in electing him, the nation would "get two for the price of one", referring to the prominent role his wife would assume. Beginning with Daniel Wattenberg's August 1992 The American Spectator article "The Lady Macbeth of Little Rock", Hillary's own past ideological and ethical record came under attack from conservatives. At least twenty other articles in major publications also drew comparisons between her and Lady Macbeth.
When Bill Clinton took office as president in January 1993, Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first lady. Her press secretary reiterated she would be using that form of her name.[c] She was the first in this role to have a postgraduate degree and her own professional career up to the time of entering the White House. She was also the first to have an office in the West Wing of the White House in addition to the usual first lady offices in the East Wing. She was part of the innermost circle vetting appointments to the new administration. Her choices filled at least eleven top-level positions and dozens more lower-level ones. After Eleanor Roosevelt, Clinton was regarded as the most openly empowered presidential wife in American history.
Some critics called it inappropriate for the first lady to play a central role in public policy matters. Supporters pointed out that Clinton's role in policy was no different from that of other White House advisors, and that voters had been well aware she would play an active role in her husband's presidency. Bill Clinton's campaign promise of "two for the price of one" led opponents to refer derisively to the Clintons as "co-presidents" or sometimes use the Arkansas label "Billary". The pressures of conflicting ideas about the role of a first lady were enough to send Hillary Clinton into "imaginary discussions" with the also-politically active Eleanor Roosevelt.[f] From the time she came to Washington, Hillary also found refuge in a prayer group of the Fellowship that featured many wives of conservative Washington figures. Triggered in part by the death of her father in April 1993, she publicly sought to find a synthesis of Methodist teachings, liberal religious political philosophy and Tikkun editor Michael Lerner's "politics of meaning" to overcome what she saw as America's "sleeping sickness of the soul"; that would lead to a willingness "to remold society by redefining what it means to be a human being in the twentieth century, moving into a new millennium".
In January 1993, President Clinton named Hillary to chair a task force on National Health Care Reform, hoping to replicate the success she had in leading the effort for Arkansas education reform. Unconvinced regarding the merits of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), she privately urged that passage of health care reform be given higher priority. The recommendation of the task force became known as the Clinton health care plan. This was a comprehensive proposal that would require employers to provide health coverage to their employees through individual health maintenance organizations. Its opponents quickly derided the plan as "Hillarycare" and it even faced opposition from some Democrats in Congress. Some protesters against the proposed plan became vitriolic and during a July 1994 bus tour to rally support for the plan, Clinton wore a bulletproof vest at times.
Failing to gather enough support for a floor vote in either the House or the Senate (although Democrats controlled both chambers), the proposal was abandoned in September 1994. Clinton later acknowledged in her memoir that her political inexperience partly contributed to the defeat but cited many other factors. The first lady's approval ratings, which had generally been in the high-50 percent range during her first year, fell to 44 percent in April 1994 and 35 percent by September 1994.
Republicans made the Clinton health care plan a major campaign issue of the 1994 midterm elections. They saw a net gain of 54 seats in the House election and eight in the Senate election, winning control of both; many analysts and pollsters found the plan to be a major factor in the Democrats' defeat, especially among independent voters. The White House subsequently sought to downplay Clinton's role in shaping policy. Opponents of universal health care would continue to use "Hillarycare" as a pejorative label for similar plans by others.
Along with senators Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch, Clinton was a force behind the passage of the State Children's Health Insurance Program in 1997. This federal bill gave state support to children whose parents could not provide them health coverage. She conducted outreach efforts on behalf of enrolling children in the program once it became law. She promoted nationwide immunization against childhood diseases and encouraged older women to get a mammogram for breast cancer screening, with coverage provided by Medicare. She successfully sought to increase research funding for prostate cancer and childhood asthma at the National Institutes of Health. She worked to investigate reports of an illness that affected veterans of the Gulf War, which became known as the Gulf War syndrome.
Enactment of welfare reform was a major goal of Bill Clinton's presidency. When the first two bills on the issue came from a Republican-controlled Congress lacking protections for people coming off welfare, however, Hillary urged him to veto the bills, which he did. A third version came up during his 1996 general election campaign that restored some of the protections but cut the scope of benefits in other areas; critics, including her past mentor Edelman, urged her to get the president to veto it again. But she decided to support the bill, which became the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, as the best political compromise available. This caused a rift with Edelman that Hillary later called "sad and painful".
Together with Attorney General Janet Reno, Clinton helped create the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice. In 1997, she initiated and shepherded the Adoption and Safe Families Act, which she regarded as her greatest accomplishment as the first lady. In 1999, she was instrumental in the passage of the Foster Care Independence Act, which doubled federal monies for teenagers aging out of foster care. As First Lady of the United States, Clinton was the host for various White House conferences. These included one on Child Care (1997), on Early Childhood Development and Learning (1997), and on Children and Adolescents (2000). She also hosted the first-ever White House Conference on Teenagers (2000), and the first-ever White House Conference on Philanthropy (1999).
Clinton traveled to 79 countries during this time, breaking the record for most-traveled first lady previously held by Pat Nixon. She did not hold a security clearance or attend National Security Council meetings, but played a role in U.S. diplomacy attaining its objectives. A March 1995 five-nation trip to South Asia, on behest of the U.S. State Department, without her husband, sought to improve relations with India and Pakistan. Clinton was troubled by the plight of women she encountered, but found a warm response from the people of the countries she visited, and gained a better relationship with the American press corps. The trip was a transformative experience for her and presaged her eventual career in diplomacy.
In a September 1995 speech before the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, Clinton argued forcefully against practices that abused women around the world and in the People's Republic of China itself. She declared, "it is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights". Delegates from over 180 countries heard her say: "If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights, once and for all." In doing so, she resisted both internal administration and Chinese pressure to soften her remarks. The speech became a key moment in the empowerment of women and years later women around the world would recite Clinton's key phrases. During the late 1990s, she was one of the most prominent international figures to speak out against the treatment of Afghan women by the Taliban. She helped create Vital Voices, an international initiative sponsored by the U.S. to encourage the participation of women in the political processes of their countries. It and Clinton's own visits encouraged women to make themselves heard in the Northern Ireland peace process. In 1997, Clinton returned to Northern Ireland to deliver the inaugural Joyce McCartan lecture at the University of Ulster in honour of the community campaigner she had met during her visit in Belfast in 1995.
Clinton was a subject of several investigations by the United States Office of the Independent Counsel, committees of the U.S. Congress, and the press.
The Whitewater controversy was the focus of media attention from its publication in a New York Times report during the 1992 presidential campaign and throughout her time as the first lady. The Clintons had lost their late-1970s investment in the Whitewater Development Corporation; at the same time, their partners in that investment, Jim and Susan McDougal operated Madison Guaranty, a savings and loan institution that retained the legal services of Rose Law Firm and may have been improperly subsidizing Whitewater losses. Madison Guaranty later failed, and Clinton's work at Rose was scrutinized for a possible conflict of interest in representing the bank before state regulators her husband had appointed. She said she had done minimal work for the bank. Independent counsels Robert Fiske and Kenneth Starr subpoenaed Clinton's legal billing records; she said she did not know where they were. After a two-year search, the records were found in the first lady's White House book room and delivered to investigators in early 1996. The delayed appearance of the records sparked intense interest and another investigation concerning how they surfaced and where they had been. Clinton's staff attributed the problem to continual changes in White House storage areas since the move from the Arkansas Governor's Mansion. On January 26, 1996, Clinton became the first spouse of a U.S. president to be subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury. After several Independent Counsels had investigated, a final report was issued in 2000 that stated there was insufficient evidence that either Clinton had engaged in criminal wrongdoing.
Scrutiny of the May 1993 firings of the White House Travel Office employees, an action that became known as "Travelgate", began with charges that the White House had used audited financial irregularities in the Travel Office operation as an excuse to replace the staff with friends from Arkansas. The 1996 discovery of a two-year-old White House memo led to the investigation being focused on whether Clinton had orchestrated the firings and whether the statements she made to investigators about her role in the firings were true. The 2000 final Independent Counsel report concluded she was involved in the firings and that she had made "factually false" statements, but that there was insufficient evidence that she knew the statements were false or knew that her actions would lead to firings, to prosecute her.
In March 1994, newspaper reports revealed that Clinton had earned spectacular profits from cattle futures trading in 1978–79. The press made allegations that Clinton had engaged in a conflict of interest and disguised a bribery. Several individuals analyzed her trading records, but no formal investigation was made and she was never charged with any wrongdoing.
An outgrowth of the "Travelgate" investigation was the June 1996 discovery of improper White House access to hundreds of FBI background reports on former Republican White House employees, an affair that some called "Filegate". Accusations were made that Clinton had requested these files and she had recommended hiring an unqualified individual to head the White House Security Office. The 2000 final Independent Counsel report found no substantial or credible evidence that Clinton had any role or showed any misconduct in the matter.
In early 2001, a controversy arose over gifts that were sent to the White House; there was a question whether the furnishings were White House property or the Clintons' personal property. During the last year of Bill Clinton's time in office, those gifts were shipped to the Clintons' private residence.
In 1996, Clinton presented a vision for American children in the book It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us. In January 1996, she went on a ten-city book tour and made numerous television appearances to promote the book, although she was frequently hit with questions about her involvement in the Whitewater and Travelgate controversies. The book spent 18 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List that year, including three weeks at number one. By 2000, it had sold 450,000 copies in hardcover and another 200,000 in paperback.
In 1998, the Clintons' private concerns became the subject of much speculation when investigations revealed the president had engaged in an extramarital affair with 22-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Events surrounding the Lewinsky scandal eventually led to the impeachment of the president by the House of Representatives; he was later acquitted by the Senate. When the allegations against her husband were first made public, Hillary Clinton stated that the allegations were part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy". She characterized the Lewinsky charges as the latest in a long, organized, collaborative series of charges by Bill's political enemies[g] rather than any wrongdoing by her husband. She later said she had been misled by her husband's initial claims that no affair had taken place. After the evidence of President Clinton's encounters with Lewinsky became incontrovertible, she issued a public statement reaffirming her commitment to their marriage. Privately, she was reported to be furious at him and was unsure if she wanted to remain in the marriage. The White House residence staff noticed a pronounced level of tension between the couple during this period.
Public reaction varied. Women variously admired her strength and poise in private matters that were made public. They sympathized with her as a victim of her husband's insensitive behavior and criticized her as being an enabler to her husband's indiscretions. They also accused her of cynically staying in a failed marriage as a way of keeping or even fostering her own political influence. In the wake of the revelations, her public approval ratings shot upward to around 70 percent, the highest they had ever been. In her 2003 memoir, she would attribute her decision to stay married to "a love that has persisted for decades" and add: "No one understands me better and no one can make me laugh the way Bill does. Even after all these years, he is still the most interesting, energizing, and fully alive person I have ever met."
Issues that surrounded the Lewinsky scandal left Bill Clinton with substantial legal bills. In 2014, Hillary said that she and Bill had left the White House "not only dead broke, but in debt". The statement may have been literally accurate but ignored the potentially enormous earning power of ex-presidents who give paid speeches after leaving office. The couple would also have the ability to secure loans from banks.
In October 2018, Hillary stated in an interview on CBS News Sunday Morning that Bill was right to not resign from office, and that Bill's affair with Lewinsky did not constitute an abuse of power because Lewinsky "was an adult".
Other books published by Clinton when she was the first lady include Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets (1998) and An Invitation to the White House: At Home with History (2000). In 2001, she wrote an afterword to the children's book Beatrice's Goat. She was the founding chair of Save America's Treasures, a nationwide effort matching federal funds with private donations to preserve and restore historic items and sites. This included the flag that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the First Ladies National Historic Site in Canton, Ohio. She also published a weekly syndicated newspaper column titled "Talking It Over" from 1995 to 2000. It focused on her experiences and those of women, children and families she met during her travels around the world.
She was head of the White House Millennium Council and hosted Millennium Evenings, a series of lectures that discussed futures studies, one of which became the first live simultaneous webcast from the White House. Clinton also created the first White House Sculpture Garden, located in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, which displayed large contemporary American works of art loaned by museums.
In the White House, Clinton placed donated handicrafts of contemporary American artisans, such as pottery and glassware, on rotating display in the state rooms. She oversaw the restoration of the Blue Room to be historically authentic to the period of James Monroe, and the Map Room to how it looked during World War II. Working with Arkansas interior decorator Kaki Hockersmith over an eight-year period, she oversaw extensive, privately funded redecoration efforts around the building, often trying to make it look brighter. These included changing of the Treaty Room and a presidential study to have a 19th-century look. Overall the redecoration brought mixed notices, with Victorian furnishings for the Lincoln Sitting Room being criticized the most. Clinton hosted many large-scale events at the White House, including a state dinner for visiting Chinese dignitaries, a New Year's Eve celebration at the turn of the 21st century, and a state dinner honoring the bicentennial of the White House in November 2000.
When New York's long-serving U.S. senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan announced his retirement in November 1998, several prominent Democratic figures, including Representative Charles Rangel of New York, urged Clinton to run for his open seat in the Senate election of 2000. Once she decided to run, the Clintons purchased a home at 15 Old House Lane in Chappaqua, New York, north of New York City, in September 1999. She became the first wife of the president of the United States to be a candidate for elected office. Initially, Clinton expected to face Rudy Giuliani—the mayor of New York City—as her Republican opponent in the election. Giuliani withdrew from the race in May 2000 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer and matters related to his failing marriage became public. Clinton then faced Rick Lazio, a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives who represented New York's 2nd congressional district. Throughout the campaign, opponents accused Clinton of carpetbagging, because she had never resided in New York State or participated in the state's politics before the 2000 Senate race.
Bill de Blasio was Clinton's campaign manager. She began her drive to the U.S. Senate by visiting all 62 counties in the state, in a "listening tour" of small-group settings. She devoted considerable time in traditionally Republican Upstate New York regions. Clinton vowed to improve the economic situation in those areas, promising to deliver 200,000 jobs to the state over her term. Her plan included tax credits to reward job creation and encourage business investment, especially in the high-tech sector. She called for personal tax cuts for college tuition and long-term care.
The contest drew national attention. During a September debate, Lazio blundered when he seemed to invade Clinton's personal space by trying to get her to sign a fundraising agreement. Their campaigns, along with Giuliani's initial effort, spent a record combined $90 million. Clinton won the election on November 7, 2000, with 55 percent of the vote to Lazio's 43 percent. She was sworn in as U.S. senator on January 3, 2001, and as George W. Bush was still 17 days away from being inaugurated as president after winning the 2000 presidential election, that meant from January 3–20, she simultaneously held the titles of First Lady and Senator – a first in U.S. history.
Because Bill Clinton's term as president did not end until 17 days after she was sworn in, upon entering the Senate, Clinton became the first and so far only first lady to serve as a senator and first lady concurrently. Clinton maintained a low public profile and built relationships with senators from both parties when she started her term. She forged alliances with religiously inclined senators by becoming a regular participant in the Senate Prayer Breakfast. She sat on five Senate committees: Committee on Budget (2001–02), Committee on Armed Services (2003–09), Committee on Environment and Public Works (2001–09), Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (2001–09) and Special Committee on Aging. She was also a member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (2001–09).
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Clinton sought to obtain funding for the recovery efforts in New York City and security improvements in her state. Working with New York's senior senator, Chuck Schumer, she was instrumental in securing $21 billion in funding for the World Trade Center site's redevelopment. She subsequently took a leading role in investigating the health issues faced by 9/11 first responders. Clinton voted for the USA Patriot Act in October 2001. In 2005, when the act was up for renewal, she expressed concerns with the USA Patriot Act Reauthorization Conference Report regarding civil liberties. In March 2006, she voted in favor of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 that had gained large majority support.
Clinton strongly supported the 2001 U.S. military action in Afghanistan, saying it was a chance to combat terrorism while improving the lives of Afghan women who suffered under the Taliban government. Clinton voted in favor of the October 2002 Iraq War Resolution, which authorized President George W. Bush to use military force against Iraq.
After the Iraq War began, Clinton made trips to Iraq and Afghanistan to visit American troops stationed there. On a visit to Iraq in February 2005, Clinton noted that the insurgency had failed to disrupt the democratic elections held earlier and that parts of the country were functioning well. Observing that war deployments were draining regular and reserve forces, she co-introduced legislation to increase the size of the regular U.S. Army by 80,000 soldiers to ease the strain. In late 2005, Clinton said that while immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistake, Bush's pledge to stay "until the job is done" was also misguided, as it gave Iraqis "an open-ended invitation not to take care of themselves". Her stance caused frustration among those in the Democratic Party who favored quick withdrawal. Clinton supported retaining and improving health benefits for reservists and lobbied against the closure of several military bases, especially those in New York. She used her position on the Armed Services Committee to forge close relationships with a number of high-ranking military officers. By 2014 and 2015 Clinton had fully reversed herself on the Iraq War Resolution, saying she "got it wrong" and the vote in support had been a "mistake".
Clinton voted against President Bush's two major tax cut packages, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. Simon & Schuster released Living History: The book set a first-week sales record for a nonfiction work, went on to sell more than one million copies in the first month following publication, and was translated into twelve foreign languages. Clinton's audio recording of the book earned her a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album.
Clinton voted against the 2005 confirmation of John Roberts as chief justice of the United States and the 2006 confirmation of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court, filibustering the latter.
In 2005, Clinton called for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate how hidden sex scenes showed up in the controversial video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Along with senators Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh, she introduced the Family Entertainment Protection Act, intended to protect children from inappropriate content found in video games. In 2004 and 2006, Clinton voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment that sought to prohibit same-sex marriage.
Looking to establish a "progressive infrastructure" to rival that of American conservatism, Clinton played a formative role in conversations that led to the 2003 founding of former Clinton administration chief of staff John Podesta's Center for American Progress, shared aides with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, founded in 2003 and advised the Clintons' former antagonist David Brock's Media Matters for America, created in 2004. Following the 2004 Senate elections, she successfully pushed new Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid to create a Senate war room to handle daily political messaging.
In November 2004, Clinton announced she would seek a second Senate term. She easily won the Democratic nomination over opposition from antiwar activist Jonathan Tasini.[dead link] The early frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, withdrew from the contest after several months of poor campaign performance. Clinton's eventual opponent in the general election was Republican candidate John Spencer, a former mayor of Yonkers. Clinton won the election on November 7, 2006, with 67 percent of the vote to Spencer's 31 percent, carrying all but four of New York's sixty-two counties. Her campaign spent $36 million for her reelection, more than any other candidate for Senate in the 2006 elections. Some Democrats criticized her for spending too much in a one-sided contest, while some supporters were concerned she did not leave more funds for a potential presidential bid in 2008. In the following months, she transferred $10 million of her Senate funds toward her presidential campaign.
Clinton opposed the Iraq War troop surge of 2007, for both military and domestic political reasons (by the following year, she was privately acknowledging the surge had been successful).[h] In March of that year, she voted in favor of a war-spending bill that required President Bush to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq by a deadline; it passed almost completely along party lines but was subsequently vetoed by Bush. In May, a compromise war funding bill that removed withdrawal deadlines but tied funding to progress benchmarks for the Iraqi government passed the Senate by a vote of 80–14 and would be signed by Bush; Clinton was one of those who voted against it. She responded to General David Petraeus's September 2007 Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq by saying, "I think that the reports that you provide to us really require a willing suspension of disbelief."
In March 2007, in response to the dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy, Clinton called on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign. Regarding the high-profile, hotly debated immigration reform bill known as the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, Clinton cast several votes in support of the bill, which eventually failed to gain cloture.
As the financial crisis of 2007–08 reached a peak with the liquidity crisis of September 2008, Clinton supported the proposed bailout of the U.S. financial system, voting in favor of the $700 billion law that created the Troubled Asset Relief Program, saying it represented the interests of the American people. It passed the Senate 74–25.
Clinton had been preparing for a potential candidacy for U.S. president since at least early 2003. On January 20, 2007, she announced via her website the formation of a presidential exploratory committee for the United States presidential election of 2008, stating: "I'm in and I'm in to win." No woman had ever been nominated by a major party for the presidency, and no first lady had ever run for president. When Bill Clinton became president in 1993, a blind trust was established; in April 2007, the Clintons liquidated the blind trust to avoid the possibility of ethical conflicts or political embarrassments as Hillary undertook her presidential race. Later disclosure statements revealed the couple's worth was now upwards of $50 million. They had earned over $100 million since 2000—most of it coming from Bill's books, speaking engagements and other activities.
Throughout the first half of 2007, Clinton led candidates competing for the Democratic presidential nomination in opinion polls for the election. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and former senator John Edwards of North Carolina were her strongest competitors. The biggest threat to her campaign was her past support of the Iraq War, which Obama had opposed from the beginning. Clinton and Obama both set records for early fundraising, swapping the money lead each quarter. At the end of October, Clinton fared poorly in her debate performance against Obama, Edwards, and her other opponents. Obama's message of change began to resonate with the Democratic electorate better than Clinton's message of experience.
In the first vote of 2008, she placed third in the January 3 Iowa Democratic caucus behind Obama and Edwards. Obama gained ground in national polling in the next few days, with all polls predicting a victory for him in the New Hampshire primary. Clinton gained a surprise win there on January 8, narrowly defeating Obama. It was the first time a woman had won a major American party's presidential primary for the purposes of delegate selection. Explanations for Clinton's New Hampshire comeback varied but often centered on her being seen more sympathetically, especially by women, after her eyes welled with tears and her voice broke while responding to a voter's question the day before the election.
The nature of the contest fractured in the next few days. Several remarks by Bill Clinton and other surrogates, and a remark by Hillary Clinton concerning Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon B. Johnson,[i] were perceived by many as, accidentally or intentionally, limiting Obama as a racially oriented candidate or otherwise denying the post-racial significance and accomplishments of his campaign. Despite attempts by both Hillary and Obama to downplay the issue, Democratic voting became more polarized as a result, with Clinton losing much of her support among African Americans. She lost by a two-to-one margin to Obama in the January 26, South Carolina primary, setting up, with Edwards soon dropping out, an intense two-person contest for the twenty-two February 5 Super Tuesday states. Bill Clinton had made more statements attracting criticism for their perceived racial implications late in the South Carolina campaign, and his role was seen as damaging enough to her that a wave of supporters within and outside of the campaign said the former president "needs to stop". The South Carolina campaign had done lasting damage to Clinton, eroding her support among the Democratic establishment and leading to the prized endorsement of Obama by Ted Kennedy.
On Super Tuesday, Clinton won the largest states, such as California, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, while Obama won more states; they almost evenly split the total popular vote. But Obama was gaining more pledged delegates for his share of the popular vote due to better exploitation of the Democratic proportional allocation rules.
The Clinton campaign had counted on winning the nomination by Super Tuesday and was unprepared financially and logistically for a prolonged effort; lagging in Internet fundraising as Clinton began loaning money to her campaign. There was continuous turmoil within the campaign staff, and she made several top-level personnel changes. Obama won the next eleven February contests across the country, often by large margins and took a significant pledged delegate lead over Clinton. On March 4, Clinton broke the string of losses by winning in Ohio among other places, where her criticism of NAFTA, a major legacy of her husband's presidency, helped in a state where the trade agreement was unpopular. Throughout the campaign, Obama dominated caucuses, for which the Clinton campaign largely ignored and failed to prepare. Obama did well in primaries where African Americans or younger, college-educated, or more affluent voters were heavily represented; Clinton did well in primaries where Hispanics or older, non-college-educated, or working-class white voters predominated. Behind in delegates, Clinton's best hope of winning the nomination came in persuading uncommitted, party-appointed superdelegates.
Following the final primaries on June 3, 2008, Obama had gained enough delegates to become the presumptive nominee. In a speech before her supporters on June 7, Clinton ended her campaign and endorsed Obama. By campaign's end, Clinton had won 1,640 pledged delegates to Obama's 1,763; at the time of the clinching, Clinton had 286 superdelegates to Obama's 395, with those numbers widening to 256 versus 438 once Obama was acknowledged the winner. Clinton and Obama each received over 17 million votes during the nomination process[j] with both breaking the previous record. Clinton was the first woman to run in the primary or caucus of every state and she eclipsed, by a very wide margin, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm's 1972 marks for most votes garnered and delegates won by a woman. Clinton gave a passionate speech supporting Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and campaigned frequently for him in fall 2008, which concluded with his victory over McCain in the general election on November 4. Clinton's campaign ended up severely in debt; she owed millions of dollars to outside vendors and wrote off the $13 million that she lent it herself. The debt was eventually paid off by the beginning of 2013.
In mid-November 2008, President-elect Obama and Clinton discussed the possibility of her serving as secretary of state in his administration. She was initially quite reluctant, but on November 20 she told Obama she would accept the position. On December 1, President-elect Obama formally announced that Clinton would be his nominee for secretary of state. Clinton said she did not want to leave the Senate, but that the new position represented a "difficult and exciting adventure". As part of the nomination and to relieve concerns of conflict of interest, Bill Clinton agreed to accept several conditions and restrictions regarding his ongoing activities and fundraising efforts for the William J. Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative.
The appointment required a Saxbe fix, passed and signed into law in December 2008. Confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee began on January 13, 2009, a week before the Obama inauguration; two days later, the committee voted 16–1 to approve Clinton. By this time, her public approval rating had reached 65 percent, the highest point since the Lewinsky scandal. On January 21, 2009, Clinton was confirmed in the full Senate by a vote of 94–2. Clinton took the oath of office of secretary of state, resigning from the Senate later that day. She became the first former first lady to be a member of the United States Cabinet.
Clinton spent her initial days as secretary of state telephoning dozens of world leaders and indicating that U.S. foreign policy would change direction: "We have a lot of damage to repair." She advocated an expanded role in global economic issues for the State Department, and cited the need for an increased U.S. diplomatic presence, especially in Iraq where the Defense Department had conducted diplomatic missions. Clinton announced the most ambitious of her departmental reforms, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, which establishes specific objectives for the State Department's diplomatic missions abroad; it was modeled after a similar process in the Defense Department that she was familiar with from her time on the Senate Armed Services Committee. The first such review was issued in late 2010. It called for the U.S. leading through "civilian power" as a cost-effective way of responding to international challenges and defusing crises. It also sought to institutionalize goals of empowering women throughout the world. A cause Clinton advocated throughout her tenure was the adoption of cookstoves in the developing world, to foster cleaner and more environmentally sound food preparation and reduce smoke dangers to women.
In a 2009 internal debate regarding the War in Afghanistan, Clinton sided with the military's recommendations for a maximal "Afghanistan surge", recommending 40,000 troops and no public deadline for withdrawal. She prevailed over Vice President Joe Biden's opposition but eventually supported Obama's compromise plan to send an additional 30,000 troops and tie the surge to a timetable for eventual withdrawal. In March 2009, Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a "reset button" symbolizing U.S. attempts to rebuild ties with that country under its new president, Dmitry Medvedev. The photo op was remembered for a mistranslation into Russian. The policy, which became known as the Russian reset, led to improved cooperation in several areas during Medvedev's time in office. Relations would worsen considerably, however, following Vladimir Putin's return to the position in 2012. In October 2009, on a trip to Switzerland, Clinton's intervention overcame last-minute snags and saved the signing of an historic Turkish–Armenian accord that established diplomatic relations and opened the border between the two long-hostile nations. In Pakistan, she engaged in several unusually blunt discussions with students, talk show hosts and tribal elders, in an attempt to repair the Pakistani image of the U.S.[k] Beginning in 2010, she helped organize a diplomatic isolation and international sanctions regime against Iran, in an effort to force curtailment of that country's nuclear program; this would eventually lead to the multinational Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action being agreed to in 2015.
Clinton and Obama forged a good working relationship without power struggles; she was a team player within the administration and a defender of it to the outside and was careful that neither she nor her husband would upstage the president. Clinton formed an alliance with Secretary of Defense Gates as they shared similar strategic outlooks. Obama and Clinton both approached foreign policy as a largely non-ideological, pragmatic exercise. She met with him weekly but did not have the close, daily relationship that some of her predecessors had had with their presidents; moreover, certain key areas of policymaking were kept inside the White House or Pentagon. Nevertheless, the president had trust in her actions.
In a prepared speech in January 2010, Clinton drew analogies between the Iron Curtain and the free and unfree Internet. Chinese officials reacted negatively towards it. The speech garnered attention as the first time a senior American official had clearly defined the Internet as a key element of American foreign policy.
In July 2010, she visited South Korea, where she and Cheryl Mills worked to convince SAE-A, a large apparel subcontractor, to invest in Haiti despite the company's deep concerns about plans to raise the minimum wage. In the summer of 2010, the South Korean company signed a contract at the US State Department, ensuring that the Caracol Industrial Park would have a key tenant. This was part of the "build back better" program initiated by her husband, named UN Special Envoy to Haiti in 2009 after a tropical storm season caused $1 billion in damages to the island. In January 2011, Clinton traveled to Haiti in order to help pave the way for the election of Michel Martelly.
The 2011 Egyptian protests posed the most challenging foreign policy crisis yet for the Obama administration. Clinton's public response quickly evolved from an early assessment that the government of Hosni Mubarak was "stable", to a stance that there needed to be an "orderly transition [to] a democratic participatory government", to a condemnation of violence against the protesters. Obama came to rely upon Clinton's advice, organization and personal connections in the behind-the-scenes response to developments. As Arab Spring protests spread throughout the region, Clinton was at the forefront of a U.S. response that she recognized was sometimes contradictory, backing some regimes while supporting protesters against others.
As the Libyan Civil War took place, Clinton's shift in favor of military intervention aligned her with Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice and National Security Council figure Samantha Power. This was a key turning point in overcoming internal administration opposition from Defense Secretary Gates, security advisor Thomas E. Donilon and counterterrorism advisor John Brennan in gaining the backing for, and Arab and U.N. approval of, the 2011 military intervention in Libya. Secretary Clinton testified to Congress that the administration did not need congressional authorization for its military intervention in Libya, despite objections from some members of both parties that the administration was violating the War Powers Resolution. The State Department's legal advisor argued the same point when the Resolution's 60-day limit for unauthorized wars was passed (a view that prevailed in a legal debate within the Obama administration). Clinton later used U.S. allies and what she called "convening power" to promote unity among the Libyan rebels as they eventually overthrew the Gaddafi regime. The aftermath of the Libyan Civil War saw the country becoming a failed state. The wisdom of the intervention and interpretation of what happened afterward would become the subject of considerable debate.
During April 2011, internal deliberations of the president's innermost circle of advisors over whether to order U.S. special forces to conduct a raid into Pakistan against Osama bin Laden, Clinton was among those who argued in favor, saying the importance of getting bin Laden outweighed the risks to the U.S. relationship with Pakistan. Following the completion of the mission on May 2 resulting in bin Laden's death, Clinton played a key role in the administration's decision not to release photographs of the dead al-Qaeda leader. During internal discussions regarding Iraq in 2011, Clinton argued for keeping a residual force of up to 10,000–20,000 U.S. troops there. (All of them ended up being withdrawn after negotiations for a revised U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement failed.)
In a speech before the United Nations Human Rights Council in December 2011, Clinton said that, "Gay rights are human rights", and that the U.S. would advocate for gay rights and legal protections of gay people abroad. The same period saw her overcome internal administration opposition with a direct appeal to Obama and stage the first visit to Burma by a U.S. secretary of state since 1955. She met with Burmese leaders as well as opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and sought to support the 2011 Burmese democratic reforms. She also said the 21st century would be "America's Pacific century", a declaration that was part of the Obama administration's "pivot to Asia".
During the Syrian Civil War, Clinton and the Obama administration initially sought to persuade Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to engage popular demonstrations with reform. As government violence allegedly rose in August 2011, they called for him to resign from the presidency. The administration joined several countries in delivering non-lethal assistance to so-called rebels opposed to the Assad government and humanitarian groups working in Syria. During mid-2012, Clinton formed a plan with CIA Director David Petraeus to further strengthen the opposition by arming and training vetted groups of Syrian rebels. The proposal was rejected by White House officials who were reluctant to become entangled in the conflict, fearing that extremists hidden among the rebels might turn the weapons against other targets.
In December 2012, Clinton was hospitalized for a few days for treatment of a blood clot in her right transverse venous sinus. Her doctors had discovered the clot during a follow-up examination for a concussion she had sustained when she fainted and fell nearly three weeks earlier, as a result of severe dehydration from a viral intestinal ailment acquired during a trip to Europe. The clot, which caused no immediate neurological injury, was treated with anticoagulant medication, and her doctors have said she has made a full recovery.[l]
Throughout her time in office (and mentioned in her final speech concluding it), Clinton viewed "smart power" as the strategy for asserting U.S. leadership and values. In a world of varied threats, weakened central governments and increasingly important nongovernmental entities, smart power combined military hard power with diplomacy and U.S. soft power capacities in global economics, development aid, technology, creativity and human rights advocacy. As such, she became the first secretary of state to methodically implement the smart power approach. In debates over use of military force, she was generally one of the more hawkish voices in the administration. In August 2011 she hailed the ongoing multinational military intervention in Libya and the initial U.S. response towards the Syrian Civil War as examples of smart power in action.
Clinton greatly expanded the State Department's use of social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to get its message out and to help empower citizens of foreign countries vis-à-vis their governments. And in the Mideast turmoil, Clinton particularly saw an opportunity to advance one of the central themes of her tenure, the empowerment and welfare of women and girls worldwide. Moreover, in a formulation that became known as the "Hillary Doctrine", she viewed women's rights as critical for U.S. security interests, due to a link between the level of violence against women and gender inequality within a state, and the instability and challenge to international security of that state. In turn, there was a trend of women around the world finding more opportunities, and in some cases feeling safer, as the result of her actions and visibility.
Clinton visited 112 countries during her tenure, making her the most widely traveled secretary of state[m] (Time magazine wrote that "Clinton's endurance is legendary".) The first secretary of state to visit countries like Togo and East Timor, she believed that in-person visits were more important than ever in the virtual age. As early as March 2011, she indicated she was not interested in serving a second term as secretary of state should Obama be re-elected in 2012; in December 2012, following that re-election, Obama nominated Senator John Kerry to be Clinton's successor. Her last day as secretary of state was February 1, 2013. Upon her departure, analysts commented that Clinton's tenure did not bring any signature diplomatic breakthroughs as some other secretaries of state had accomplished, and highlighted her focus on goals she thought were less tangible but would have more lasting effect. She has also been criticized for accepting millions in dollars in donations from foreign governments to the Clinton Foundation during her tenure as Secretary of State.
On September 11, 2012, the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked, resulting in the deaths of the U.S. Ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The attack, questions surrounding the security of the U.S. consulate, and the varying explanations given afterward by administration officials for what had happened became politically controversial in the U.S. On October 15, Clinton took responsibility for the question of security lapses saying the differing explanations were due to the inevitable fog of war confusion after such events.
On December 19, a panel led by Thomas R. Pickering and Michael Mullen issued its report on the matter. It was sharply critical of State Department officials in Washington for ignoring requests for more guards and safety upgrades and for failing to adapt security procedures to a deteriorating security environment. It focused its criticism on the department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security and Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs; four State Department officials at the assistant secretary level and below were removed from their posts as a consequence. Clinton said she accepted the conclusions of the report and that changes were underway to implement its suggested recommendations.
Clinton gave testimony to two congressional foreign affairs committees on January 23, 2013, regarding the Benghazi attack. She defended her actions in response to the incident, and while still accepting formal responsibility, said she had had no direct role in specific discussions beforehand regarding consulate security. Congressional Republicans challenged her on several points, to which she responded. In particular, after persistent questioning about whether or not the administration had issued inaccurate "talking points" after the attack, Clinton responded with the much-quoted rejoinder, "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they'd they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator." In November 2014, the House Intelligence Committee issued a report that concluded there had been no wrongdoing in the administration's response to the attack.
The House Select Committee on Benghazi was created in May 2014 and conducted a two-year investigation related to the 2012 attack. Its actions were often seen through the prism of domestic politics. This was especially the case in September 2015, when House majority leader Kevin McCarthy credited the Benghazi hearings with lowering Clinton's poll numbers, thereby contradicting the Republicans' previous talking points on the investigation. On October 22, 2015, Clinton testified at an all-day and nighttime session before the committee. The hearing included many heated exchanges between committee members and Clinton and among the committee members themselves. Clinton was widely seen as emerging largely unscathed from the hearing, because of what the media perceived as a calm and unfazed demeanor and a lengthy, meandering, repetitive line of questioning from the committee. The committee issued competing final reports in June 2016 that broke along partisan lines. The Republican report offered some new details about the attack but no new evidence of culpability by Clinton.
A controversy arose in March 2015, when the State Department's inspector general revealed that Clinton had used personal email accounts on a non-government, privately maintained server exclusively—instead of email accounts maintained on federal government servers—when conducting official business during her tenure as secretary of state. Some experts, officials, members of Congress and political opponents contended that her use of private messaging system software and a private server violated State Department protocols and procedures, and federal laws and regulations governing recordkeeping requirements. The controversy occurred against the backdrop of Clinton's 2016 presidential election campaign and hearings held by the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
In a joint statement released on July 15, 2015, the inspector general of the State Department and the inspector general of the intelligence community said their review of the emails found information that was classified when sent, remained so at the time of their inspection and "never should have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system". They also stated unequivocally this classified information should never have been stored outside of secure government computer systems. Clinton had said over a period of months that she kept no classified information on the private server that she set up in her house. Government policy, reiterated in the nondisclosure agreement signed by Clinton as part of gaining her security clearance, is that sensitive information can be considered as classified even if not marked as such. After allegations were raised that some of the emails in question fell into the so-called "born classified" category, an FBI probe was initiated regarding how classified information was handled on the Clinton server. The New York Times reported in February 2016 that nearly 2,100 emails stored on Clinton's server were retroactively marked classified by the State Department. Additionally, the intelligence community's inspector general wrote Congress to say that some of the emails "contained classified State Department information when originated". In May 2016, the inspector general of the State Department criticized her use of a private email server while secretary of state, stating that she had not requested permission for this and would not have received it if she had asked.
Clinton maintained she did not send or receive any emails from her personal server that were confidential at the time they were sent. In a Democratic debate with Bernie Sanders on February 4, 2016, Clinton said, "I never sent or received any classified material—they are retroactively classifying it." On July 2, 2016, Clinton stated: "Let me repeat what I have repeated for many months now, I never received nor sent any material that was marked classified."
110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were "up-classified" to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent.
Out of 30,000, three emails were found to be marked as classified, although they lacked classified headers and were marked only with a small "c" in parentheses, described as "portion markings" by Comey. He also said it was possible Clinton was not "technically sophisticated" enough to understand what the three classified markings meant. The probe found Clinton used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, both sending and receiving work-related emails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Comey acknowledged that it was "possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton's personal email account". He added that "[although] we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information". Nevertheless, Comey asserted that "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring criminal charges in this case, despite the existence of "potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information". The FBI recommended that the Justice Department decline to prosecute. On July 6, 2016, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch—who had met privately with Bill Clinton on June 27—confirmed that the probe into Clinton's use of private email servers would be closed without criminal charges.
On October 28, 2016, Comey notified Congress that the FBI had begun looking into newly discovered Clinton emails. Law enforcement officials said that while investigating allegedly illicit text messages from Anthony Weiner, husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina, they discovered emails related to Clinton's private server on a laptop computer belonging to Weiner. On November 6, Comey notified Congress that the FBI had not changed the conclusion it had reached in July. The notification was later cited by Clinton as a factor in her loss in the 2016 presidential election. The emails controversy received more media coverage than any other topic during the 2016 presidential election.
In September 2019, the State Department finished its internal review into 33,000 emails that Clinton had turned over. The investigation that began in 2016 found 588 violations of security procedures and found that Clinton's use of a personal email server increased the risk of compromising State Department information. In 91 cases, the culpability of sending classified information could be attributed to 38 people, but the review concluded there was "no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information".
When Clinton left the State Department, she returned to private life for the first time in thirty years. She and her daughter joined her husband as named members of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation in 2013. There she focused on early childhood development efforts, including an initiative called Too Small to Fail and a $600 million initiative to encourage the enrollment of girls in secondary schools worldwide, led by former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Clinton also led the No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project, a partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to gather and study data on the progress of women and girls around the world since the Beijing conference in 1995; its March 2015 report said that while "There has never been a better time in history to be born a woman ... this data shows just how far we still have to go." The foundation began accepting new donations from foreign governments, which it had stopped doing while she was secretary of state.[n] However, even though the Clinton Foundation had stopped taking donations from foreign governments, they continued to take large donations from foreign citizens who were sometimes linked to their governments.
She began work on another volume of memoirs and made appearances on the paid speaking circuit. There she received $200,000–225,000 per engagement, often appearing before Wall Street firms or at business conventions. She also made some unpaid speeches on behalf of the foundation. For the fifteen months ending in March 2015, Clinton earned over $11 million from her speeches. For the overall period 2007–14, the Clintons earned almost $141 million, paid some $56 million in federal and state taxes and donated about $15 million to charity. As of 2015[update], she was estimated to be worth over $30 million on her own, or $45–53 million with her husband.
Clinton resigned from the board of the foundation in April 2015, when she began her presidential campaign. The foundation said it would accept new foreign governmental donations from six Western nations only.[n]
On April 12, 2015, Clinton formally announced her candidacy for the presidency in the 2016 election. She had a campaign-in-waiting already in place, including a large donor network, experienced operatives and the Ready for Hillary and Priorities USA Action political action committees and other infrastructure. Prior to her campaign, Clinton had claimed in an interview on NDTV in May 2012 that she would not seek the presidency again, but later wrote in her 2014 autobiography Hard Choices that she had not decided. The campaign's headquarters were established in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Her campaign focused on: raising middle class incomes, establishing universal preschool, making college more affordable and improving the Affordable Care Act. Initially considered a prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination, Clinton faced an unexpectedly strong challenge from democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. His longtime stance against the influence of corporations and the wealthy in American politics resonated with a dissatisfied citizenry troubled by the effects of income inequality in the U.S. and contrasted with Clinton's Wall Street ties.
In the initial contest of the primaries season, Clinton only very narrowly won the Iowa Democratic caucuses, held February 1, over an increasingly popular Sanders — the first woman to win them. In the first primary, held in New Hampshire on February 9, she lost to Sanders by a wide margin. Sanders was an increasing threat in the next contest, the Nevada caucuses on February 20, but Clinton managed a five-percentage-point win, aided by final-days campaigning among casino workers. Clinton followed that with a lopsided victory in the South Carolina primary on February 27. These two victories stabilized her campaign and showed an avoidance of the management turmoil that harmed her 2008 effort.
On March 1 Super Tuesday, Clinton won seven of eleven contests, including a string of dominating victories across the South buoyed, as in South Carolina, by African-American voters. She opened up a significant lead in pledged delegates over Sanders. She maintained this delegate lead across subsequent contests during the primary season, with a consistent pattern throughout. Sanders did better among younger, whiter, more rural and more liberal voters and states that held caucuses or where eligibility was open to independents. Clinton did better among older, black and Hispanic voter populations, and in states that held primaries or where eligibility was restricted to registered Democrats.
By June 5, 2016, she had earned enough pledged delegates and supportive superdelegates for the media to consider her the presumptive nominee. On June 7, after winning most of the states in the final major round of primaries, Clinton held a victory rally in Brooklyn becoming the first woman to claim the status of presumptive nominee for a major American political party. By campaign's end, Clinton had won 2,219 pledged delegates to Sanders' 1,832; with an estimated 594 superdelegates compared to Sanders' 47. She received almost 17 million votes during the nominating process, as opposed to Sanders' 13 million.
Clinton was formally nominated at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 26, 2016, becoming the first woman to be nominated for president by a major U.S. political party. Her choice of vice presidential running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, was nominated by the convention the following day. Her opponents in the general election included Republican Donald Trump, Libertarian Gary Johnson and Jill Stein of the Green Party. Around the time of the convention, WikiLeaks released emails that suggested the DNC and the Clinton campaign tilted the primary in Clinton's favor.
Clinton held a significant lead in national polls over Trump throughout most of 2016. In early July, Trump and Clinton were tied in major polls following the FBI's conclusion of its investigation into her emails. FBI Director James Comey concluded Clinton had been "extremely careless" in her handling of classified government material. In late July, Trump gained his first lead over Clinton in major polls following a three to four percentage point convention bounce at the Republican National Convention. This was in line with the average bounce in conventions since 2004, although it was toward the low side by historical standards. Following Clinton's seven percentage point convention bounce at the Democratic National Convention, she regained a significant lead in national polls at the start of August. In fall 2016, Clinton and Tim Kaine published Stronger Together, which outlined their vision for the United States.
Clinton was defeated by Donald Trump in the November 8, 2016, presidential election. By the early morning hours of November 9, Trump had received 279 projected electoral college votes, with 270 needed to win; media sources proclaimed him the winner. Clinton then phoned Trump to concede and to congratulate him on his victory, whereupon Trump gave his victory speech. The next morning Clinton made a public concession speech in which she acknowledged the pain of her loss, but called on her supporters to accept Trump as their next president, saying: "We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead." Though Clinton lost the election by capturing only 232 electoral votes to Trump's 306, she won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes, or 2.1% of the voter base. She is the fifth presidential candidate in U.S. history to win the popular vote but lose the election.[o] She won the most votes of any candidate who did not take office and the third-most votes of any candidate in history, though she did not have the greatest percentage win of a losing candidate. (Andrew Jackson won the popular vote by 10.4% but lost to John Quincy Adams).
On December 19, 2016, when electors formally voted, Clinton lost five of her initial 232 votes due to faithless electors, with three of her Washington votes being cast instead for Colin Powell, one being cast for Faith Spotted Eagle, and one in Hawaii being cast for Bernie Sanders.
In their respective roles as a former president and a former first lady, Bill and Hillary Clinton attended the inauguration of Donald Trump with their daughter, Chelsea. The morning of the inauguration Clinton wrote on her Twitter account, "I'm here today to honor our democracy & its enduring values, I will never stop believing in our country & its future."
In October 2017, Clinton was awarded an honorary doctorate from Swansea University, whose College of Law was renamed the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law in her honor. In October 2018, Hillary and Bill Clinton announced plans for a 13-city speaking tour in various cities in the United States and Canada between November 2018 and May 2019. Hillary was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in law (LLD) at Queen's University Belfast on October 10, 2018, after giving a speech on Northern Ireland and the impacts of Brexit at Whitla Hall, Belfast. In June 2018, Trinity College Dublin awarded her with an honorary doctorate (LLD). In September 2021 she was awarded an honorary doctorate of civil law by the University of Oxford.
A package that contained a pipe bomb was sent to Clinton's home in Washington, D.C., on October 24, 2018. It was intercepted by the Secret Service. Similar packages were sent to several other Democratic leaders and to CNN.
Clinton delivered a St. Patrick's Day speech in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on March 17, 2017. In it, alluding to reports that she had being seen taking walks in the woods around Chappaqua following her loss in the presidential election, Clinton indicated her readiness to emerge from "the woods" and become politically active again. However, the following month she confirmed she would not seek public office again. She reiterated her comments in March 2019 and stated she would not run for president in 2020.
In May 2017, Clinton announced the formation of Onward Together, a new political action committee that she wrote is "dedicated to advancing the progressive vision that earned nearly 66 million votes in the last election". During 2017, she spoke out on a number of occasions against Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the American Health Care Act, which she called "a disastrous bill" and a "shameful failure of policy & morality by GOP". In response to the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack, Clinton said the U.S. should take out Bashar al-Assad's airfields and thereby "prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them".
On April 28, 2020, Clinton endorsed the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, for president in the 2020 election and she addressed the 2020 Democratic National Convention in August. On October 28, 2020, Clinton announced that she was on the 2020 Democratic slate of electors for the state of New York. After Biden and Kamala Harris won New York State, thereby electing the Democratic elector slate, Clinton and her husband served as members of the 2020 United States Electoral College and cast the first of the state's electoral votes for Biden and Harris.
On May 2, 2017, Clinton said Trump's use of Twitter "doesn't work" when pursuing important negotiations. "Kim Jong Un ... [is] always interested in trying to get Americans to come to negotiate to elevate their status and their position". Negotiations with North Korea should not take place without "a broader strategic framework to try to get China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, to put the kind of pressure on the regime that will finally bring them to the negotiating table with some kind of realistic prospect for change." While delivering the commencement speech at her alma mater Wellesley College on May 26, Clinton asserted President Trump's 2018 budget proposal was "a con" for underfunding domestic programs. On June 1, when President Trump announced the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, Clinton tweeted that it was a "historic mistake".
On September 29, 2019, in an interview with CBS News Sunday Morning, Clinton described Trump as a "threat" to the country's standing in the world; an "illegitimate president", despite having won the election; and a "corrupt human tornado".
In March 2021, Clinton voiced her support for the United States Senate to abolish the Senate filibuster if it proves necessary to do so in order to pass voting rights legislation. Clinton called the Senate filibuster "another Jim Crow relic".
Clinton's third memoir, What Happened, an account of her loss in the 2016 election, was released on September 12, 2017. A book tour and a series of interviews and personal appearances were arranged for the launch. What Happened sold 300,000 copies in its first week, less than her 2003 memoir, Living History, but triple the first-week sales of her previous memoir, 2014's Hard Choices. Simon & Schuster announced that What Happened had sold more e-books in its first-week than any nonfiction e-book since 2010. As of December 10, 2017, the book had sold 448,947 hardcover copies.
An announcement was made in February 2017 that efforts were under way to render her 1996 book It Takes a Village as a picture book. Marla Frazee, a two-time winner of the Caldecott Medal, was announced as the illustrator. Clinton had worked on it with Frazee during her 2016 presidential election campaign. The result was published on the same day of publication as What Happened. The book is aimed at preschool-aged children, although a few messages are more likely better understood by adults.
In October 2019, The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience, a book Clinton co-wrote with her daughter Chelsea, was published. In February 2021, Clinton announced that she was co-writing her first fiction book with Louise Penny. The book, a political mystery thriller, is titled State of Terror and was released in October 2021.
Clinton has also written occasional op-eds in the years since her 2016 election defeat. In September 2018, The Atlantic published an article written by Clinton titled "American Democracy Is In Crisis". In April 2019, The Washington Post published an op-ed by Clinton calling for congress to be, "deliberate, fair, and fearless" in responding to the Mueller Report. In their November/December 2020 issue, Foreign Affairs published a piece by Clinton titled "A National Security Reckoning". On January 11, 2021, following the January 6 storming of the United States Capitol, an op-ed by Clinton titled "Trump should be impeached. But that alone won’t remove white supremacy from America." was published in The Washington Post. In July 2021, Democracy Docket published an op-ed by Clinton on Republican efforts to restrict voting following the 2020 presidential election.
Clinton is slated to be an executive producer of a drama series about the fight for women's suffrage in the United States titled The Woman's Hour. The series, based upon Elaine Weiss' book of the same name, will air on The CW.
On January 2, 2020, it was announced that Clinton would take up the position of Chancellor at Queen's University Belfast. Clinton became the 11th and first female chancellor of the university, filling the position that had been vacant since 2018 after the death of her predecessor, Thomas J. Moran. Commenting on taking up the position, she said that "the university is making waves internationally for its research and impact and I am proud to be an ambassador and help grow its reputation for excellence". Queen's Pro-Chancellor Stephen Prenter said that Clinton on her appointment "will be an incredible advocate for Queen's" who can act as an "inspirational role model". However, her inauguration was protested by some students.
Using her Senate votes, several organizations have attempted to measure Clinton's place on the political spectrum scientifically. National Journal's 2004 study of roll-call votes assigned Clinton a rating of 30 on the political spectrum, relative to the Senate at the time, with a rating of 1 being most liberal and 100 being most conservative. National Journal's subsequent rankings placed her as the 32nd-most liberal senator in 2006 and 16th-most liberal senator in 2007. A 2004 analysis by political scientists Joshua D. Clinton of Princeton University and Simon Jackman and Doug Rivers of Stanford University found her likely to be the sixth-to-eighth-most liberal senator. The Almanac of American Politics, edited by Michael Barone and Richard E. Cohen, rated her votes from 2003 through 2006 as liberal or conservative, with 100 as the highest rating, in three areas: Economic, Social and Foreign. Averaged for the four years, the ratings are: Economic = 75 liberal, 23 conservative; Social = 83 liberal, 6 conservative; Foreign = 66 liberal, 30 conservative. Total average = 75 liberal, 20 conservative.[p] According to FiveThirtyEight's measure of political ideology, "Clinton was one of the most liberal members during her time in the Senate."
Organizations have also attempted to provide more recent assessments of Clinton after she reentered elective politics in 2015. Based on her stated positions from the 1990s to the present, On the Issues places her in the "Left Liberal" region on their two-dimensional grid of social and economic ideologies, with a social score of 80 on a scale of zero more-restrictive to 100 less-government stances, with an economic score of ten on a scale of zero more-restrictive to 100 less-government stances. Crowdpac, which does a data aggregation of campaign contributions, votes and speeches, gives her a 6.5L rating on a one-dimensional left-right scale from 10L (most liberal) to 10C (most conservative).
In March 2016, Clinton laid out a detailed economic plan, which The New York Times called "optimistic" and "wide-ranging". Basing her economic philosophy on inclusive capitalism, Clinton proposed a "clawback" that would rescind tax relief and other benefits for companies that move jobs overseas; providing incentives for companies that share profits with employees, communities and the environment, rather than focusing on short-term profits to increase stock value and rewarding shareholders; increasing collective bargaining rights; and placing an "exit tax" on companies that move their headquarters out of America to pay a lower tax rate overseas. Clinton currently opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), though previously described it as "the gold standard" of trade deals. She supports the U.S. Export-Import Bank and holds that "any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security". As senator (2001–2009), her record on trade was mixed; she voted in favor of some trade agreements but not others.
Given the climate of unlimited campaign contributions following the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, Clinton called for a constitutional amendment to limit "unaccountable money" in politics. In July 2016, she "committed" to introducing a U.S. constitutional amendment that would result in overturning the 2010 Citizens United decision. On December 7, 2015, Clinton presented her detailed plans for regulating Wall Street financial activities in the New York Times.
Accepting the scientific consensus on climate change, Clinton supports cap-and-trade, and opposed the Keystone XL pipeline. She supported "equal pay for equal work", to address current shortfalls in how much women are paid to do the same jobs men do. Clinton has explicitly focused on family issues and supports universal preschool. These programs would be funded by proposing tax increases on the wealthy, including a "fair share surcharge". Clinton supported the Affordable Care Act and would have added a "public option" that competed with private insurers and enabled people "50 or 55 and up" to buy into Medicare.
On LGBT rights, she supports the right to same-sex marriage, a position that has changed throughout her political career. In 2000, she was against such marriages altogether. In 2006, she said only that she would support a state's decision to permit same-sex marriages, but opposed federally amending the Constitution to permit same-sex marriage. While running for president in 2007, she again reiterated her opposition to same-sex marriage, although expressed her support of civil unions. 2013 marked the first time that Clinton expressed support for a national right to same-sex marriage. In 2000, she was the first spouse of a US president to march in an LGBT pride parade. In 2016, she was the first major-party presidential candidate ever to write an op-ed for an LGBT newspaper (Philadelphia Gay News). More recently, Clinton has argued that transgender issues pose a "legitimate concern" for cisgender women, and argued that the "transgender debate" should not be a priority for Democrats in 2022.
Clinton held that allowing undocumented immigrants to have a path to citizenship "[i]s at its heart a family issue", and expressed support for Obama's Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program, which would allow up to five million undocumented immigrants to gain deferral of deportation and authorization to legally work in the United States. However, in 2014, Clinton stated that unaccompanied children crossing the border "should be sent back." She opposed and criticized Trump's call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States.
Expressing support for Common Core she said, "The really unfortunate argument that's been going on around Common Core, it's very painful because the Common Core started off as a bipartisan effort. It was actually nonpartisan. It wasn't politicized ... Iowa has had a testing system based on a core curriculum for a really long time. And [speaking to Iowans] you see the value of it, you understand why that helps you organize your whole education system. And a lot of states unfortunately haven't had that and so don't understand the value of a core, in this sense a Common Core."
On foreign affairs, Clinton voted in favor of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq in October 2002, a vote she later "regretted". She favored arming Syria's rebel fighters in 2012 and has called for the removal of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. She supported the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 and the NATO-led military intervention in Libya to oust former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Clinton is in favor of maintaining American influence in the Middle East. She has told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, "America can't ever be neutral when it comes to Israel's security and survival." Clinton expressed support for Israel's right to defend itself during the 2006 Lebanon War and 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict. In a 2017 interview, after a poison gas attack in Syria, Clinton said that she had favored more aggressive action against Bashar al-Assad: "I think we should have been more willing to confront Assad. I really believe we should have and still should take out his air fields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them."
In 2000, Clinton advocated for the elimination of the electoral college. She promised to co-sponsor legislation that would abolish it, resulting in the direct election of the president. She reiterated her position against the Electoral College as she cast her vote as an elector in the electoral college for Joe Biden in 2020.
Clinton has been a lifelong Methodist, and has been part of United Methodist Church congregations throughout her life. She has publicly discussed her Christian faith on several occasions, although seldom while campaigning. Professor Paul Kengor, author of God and Hillary Clinton: A Spiritual Life, has suggested that Clinton's political positions are rooted in her faith. She often expresses a maxim often attributed to John Wesley: "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can."
Over a hundred books and scholarly works have been written about Clinton. A 2006 survey by the New York Observer found "a virtual cottage industry" of "anti-Clinton literature" put out by Regnery Publishing and other conservative imprints. Some titles include Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House, Hillary's Scheme: Inside the Next Clinton's Ruthless Agenda to Take the White House and Can She Be Stopped?: Hillary Clinton Will Be the Next President of the United States Unless ... Books praising Clinton did not sell nearly as well (other than her memoirs and those of her husband). When she ran for Senate in 2000, several fundraising groups such as Save Our Senate and the Emergency Committee to Stop Hillary Rodham Clinton sprang up to oppose her. Don Van Natta found that Republican and conservative groups viewed her as a reliable "bogeyman" to mention in fundraising letters, on a par with Ted Kennedy, and the equivalent of Democratic and liberal appeals mentioning Newt Gingrich.
Clinton has also been featured in the media and popular culture in a wide spectrum of perspectives. In 1995, writer Todd S. Purdum of The New York Times characterized Clinton as a Rorschach test, an assessment echoed at the time by feminist writer and activist Betty Friedan, who said, "Coverage of Hillary Clinton is a massive Rorschach test of the evolution of women in our society." She has been the subject of many satirical impressions on Saturday Night Live, beginning with her time as the first lady. She has made guest appearances on the show herself, in 2008 and in 2015, to face-off with her doppelgängers. Jonathan Mann wrote songs about her including "The Hillary Shimmy Song", which went viral.
She has often been described in the popular media as a polarizing figure, though some argue otherwise. In the early stages of her 2008 presidential campaign, a Time magazine cover showed a large picture of her with two checkboxes labeled "Love Her", "Hate Her". Mother Jones titled its profile of her "Harpy, Hero, Heretic: Hillary". Following Clinton's "choked up moment" and related incidents in the run-up to the January 2008 New Hampshire primary, both The New York Times and Newsweek found that discussion of gender's role in the campaign had moved into the national political discourse. Newsweek editor Jon Meacham summed up the relationship between Clinton and the American public by saying the New Hampshire events, "brought an odd truth to light: though Hillary Rodham Clinton has been on the periphery or in the middle of national life for decades ... she is one of the most recognizable but least understood figures in American politics".
Once she became secretary of state, Clinton's image seemed to improve dramatically among the American public and become one of a respected world figure. Her favorability ratings dropped, however, after she left office and began to be viewed in the context of partisan politics once more. By September 2015, with her 2016 presidential campaign underway and beset by continued reports regarding her private email usage at the State Department, her ratings had slumped to some of her lowest levels ever. In March 2016, she acknowledged that: "I'm not a natural politician, in case you haven't noticed."
In September 2022, Clinton discussed the evolution of her trademark pantsuits. She noted that she began wearing them because of "suggestive" photos taken during a trip to Brazil in 1995 that showed her underwear when she was seated that ended up being used in an ad for lingerie company DuLoren. The ad was supposedly meant as a compliment but ended up being pulled once the American embassy complained.
|Democratic||Barack Obama||17,869,542 (popular votes)
|48.2% of popular vote|
|Democratic||Hillary Clinton||17,717,698 (popular votes)
|47.8% of popular vote|
|Democratic||Hillary Clinton||16,914,722 (popular votes)
|55.2% of popular vote|
|Democratic||Bernie Sanders||13,206,428 (popular votes)
|43.1% of popular vote|
|Republican||Donald Trump||62,984,828 (popular votes)
(30 states + ME−02)
|46.1% (popular vote)|
56.5% (electoral vote)
|Democratic||Hillary Clinton||65,853,514 (popular votes)
(20 states + DC)
|48.2% (popular vote)|
42.2% (electoral vote)
|Booknotes interview with Clinton about It Takes a Village, March 3, 1996 (57:44), C-SPAN|
|Ancestry of Hillary Clinton|
Name: Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton
What You May Not Know About ... Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton
“It takes a village to raise a child”
Concerned by the many conspiracy theories involving her husband, [she] claimed ... there was a 'vast right-wing conspiracy' to undermine their credibility.
[T]he government that Hillary Clinton helped put in power during that January 2011 trip—and that both Clintons have backed strongly since—has proven itself unworthy of that trust.
'We are a very different country than we were 200 years ago', Clinton said. 'I believe strongly that in a democracy, we should respect the will of the people and to me, that means it's time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president.' 'I hope no one is ever in doubt again about whether their vote counts.'