• William Jefferson Clinton grew up in Arkansas and in high school was able to attend a mock political convention in Washington, D.C. On that trip Clinton was able to shake President Kennedy’s hand during a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden. Clinton’s political ambitions from that day on were to become president of the United States.
• Clinton returned to Washington for college, where he attended Georgetown University and worked as a clerk for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He also won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England for two years.
• Clinton graduated from Yale Law School (where he would meet future wife Hillary Rodham) and returned to Arkansas where he would be elected governor at age 32. He served one term before losing a bid for re-election (becoming the youngest former governor in American history), then won four more terms as governor of Arkansas.
• Clinton won the presidential election in 1992 despite allegations of marital infidelity, which he addressed directly, as well as criticism over his avoidance of the Vietnam War draft. Controversies would follow Clinton throughout his time in office.
How he defined the office
• Clinton was the first Democratic president to win back-to-back terms since Franklin Roosevelt, and he was also just the second president in history to be impeached.
• Despite her involvement in the Whitewater investigation, Hillary Rodham Clinton was one of the most active First Ladies in history, particularly in her work around health care reform.
Successes and failures
• The Clintons were investigated for questionable real estate dealings on the Whitewater River in Arkansas, and in 1998 Bill Clinton was accused of having an affair with a White House intern. Investigators believed Clinton was not only lying to investigators about the affair but having others lie as well, and Congress determined there was enough evidence for an impeachment. Clinton was eventually acquitted.
• Clinton had mixed results intervening – or not acting quickly enough to intervene - in foreign affairs in Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti, and in Bosnia and Kosovo.
• On the domestic front, Clinton worked with Republicans in Congress on some issues, like passing the North American Free Trade Agreement, but struggled to work through others, like an economic package that led to an economic boom but passed through Congress with no Republican votes. Republicans took control of Congress midway through Clinton’s first term.
• “I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve. The bad days are part of it. I didn’t run to have a pleasant time. I ran to have a chance to change the country. And if the bad days come with it, that’s part of life. And it’s humbling and educational. It keeps you in your place.”