President Bill Clinton.

(1946 Birthdate)

42nd President, 1993–2001 Party Affiliation: Democrat

Chief 1992 Opponents: George H. W. Bush (Republican), Ross Perot (Independent) Chief 1996 Opponent: Bob Dole (Republican)


Where and when was he born?

Bill Clinton was born in Hope, Arkansas, to William Jefferson Blythe Jr. and Virginia Dell Cassidy on August 19, 1946. His birth name was William Jefferson Blythe III. He formally took the last name of his stepfather, Roger Clinton, when was a teenager.

What did his biological parents do for a living?

William Jefferson Blythe Jr. was a traveling salesman who died in an automobile accident several months before Bill Clinton was born. His mother, Virginia, worked as a nurse.

How many times did Clinton’s mother marry?

Bill Clinton’s mother married five times (twice to the same man). Her first husband was William Jefferson Blythe Jr. Her second husband was Roger Clinton, whom she married, divorced, and then married again. Her third husband was Jeff Dwire. Her fourth husband was Richard Kelley.  

Did he have any siblings?

He had a younger half-brother, Roger Clinton Jr. His younger brother had a checkered past, including drug charges. Clinton later pardoned his brother when he was president. Roger Clinton Jr. has had some success as an actor in recent years.

What was Clinton’s early education?

He attended St. John’s Catholic School and Ramble Elementary School for his elementary education. He then attended Hot Springs High School in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He excelled in academics and as a musician, showing promise playing the saxophone. He even contemplated a career in music for a time.

Did he marry?

Yes, Bill Clinton married Hillary Rodham on October 11, 1975. They met when they both were students at Yale Law School. She was a year ahead of Bill at Yale. She later became a political force in her own right; she served as U.S. senator from New York, and almost won the 2008 Democratic nomination for president. When the nomination and the presidency went to Barack Obama, she went on to become his secretary of state.

Does he have any children?

Yes, Bill and Hillary Clinton have one daughter, Chelsea. She graduated from Stanford University and then acquired several master’s degrees. She married in 2010.


Where did Clinton go to college?

He attended the Edward A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where he graduated in 1968. After college, he won a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford in England. He is the only president to be a Rhodes Scholar. 

What famous senator did Clinton intern for during his college years?

The summer before his senior year, he interned for James William Fulbright, a U.S. senator from Clinton’s home state of Arkansas. Fulbright served thirty years in the Senate.

Did he serve in the military?

No, Clinton did not serve in the military. He was of military age during the Vietnam War but traveled to England for his Rhodes Scholarship program. Critics charge that he used his connections with Senator Ful- bright to claim that he was going into an ROTC program to avoid being drafted.


Where did he go to law school?

Clinton went to Yale Law School, where he graduated in 1973. It was at Yale that Bill Clinton met his future wife, Hillary.

Did Clinton ever practice law?

Clinton practiced law with the firm Wright, Lindsey, and Jennings. His friend Bruce Lindsey got Clinton the job. Clinton later returned the favor, enlisting Lindsey as his deputy White House counsel and senior advisor.


To whom did Clinton lose his first political race?

In 1974, the twenty-eight-year-old Clinton lost to Roger Paul Hammerschmidt in a race for the U.S. House of Representatives. Hammerschmidt was a formidable foe, as he had already served four terms. Hammerschmidt went on to serve thirteen terms in the House, from 1967 until his retirement in 1993.

What two positions did Clinton win?

In 1976, he became Arkansas’s attorney general, and then in 1978, the thirty-two-year-old Clinton became the youngest governor in the country. He lost his position after only one term to Republican challenger Frank D. White. After that defeat, Clinton worked in his friend Bruce Lindsey’s law firm, while working on his reelection. Clin- ton later regained the governorship, defeating White in 1982 and 1986.

Who gave Clinton the nickname “Slick Willie”?

Paul Greenberg, a newspaper editorial writer for the Pine Bluff Commercial and later for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, called Clinton “Slick Willie” when Clinton was governor. The nickname was used to describe Clinton’s ability to change positions to suit his political need.


Whom did he defeat to win the 1992 Democratic presidential primary?

Clinton defeated a formidable array of challenges in the primaries, including Tom Harkin, a U.S. senator from Iowa; Paul Tsongas, a former U.S. senator from Massachu- setts; former California governor Jerry Brown; and Bob Kerrey, a U.S. senator from Nebraska. Clinton lost the primary in Iowa to Harkin and the New Hampshire primary to Tsongas. But he became the “Comeback Kid,” even overcoming allegations of a long-term affair with a woman named Gennifer Flowers. Clinton ended up dominating the primary with more than three thousand delegates—far more than second-place finisher Brown.

Whom did he defeat to win the 1992 general presidential election?

Clinton defeated Republican incumbent George H. W. Bush and Texas billionaire Ross Perot, who ran as an Independent. Clinton seized upon the flagging economy, Bush’s dropping popularity numbers, and the fact that Bush broke his 1988 campaign promise of “no new taxes.” Clinton garnered 370 electoral votes to 168 for Bush. Perot did not win a single electoral vote, though he did capture nearly 20 percent of the popular vote. Clinton garnered 43 percent of the popular vote and Bush won 37.5 percent.

What was the “two for the price of one” campaign slogan?

Clinton used this slogan to promote his wife, Hillary, who had an impressive legal career. He encouraged the American voters to put him in the White House because Hillary would benefit the country as a first lady.

Whom did Clinton defeat to win reelection in the 1996 presidential election?

Clinton defeated Robert Dole, a longtime U.S. senator from Kansas, to win reelection in 1996. Dole had served in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1960s before winning a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1968. He was re-elected to that seat four more times. He resigned from the Senate while running for president in 1996. As a former war hero—he was wounded in World War II—with plenty of experience, it seemed that Dole presented a formidable challenge to Clinton. But Clinton easily defeated him with an electoral vote count of 359 to 179.

Who was his vice president?

Clinton selected Albert Gore Jr., a U.S. senator from Tennessee, as his running mate. Gore was young and from the South, but gave the campaign ticket credibility on environmental issues and on family values. Gore served as Clinton’s vice president for two full terms. He went on to run for the presidency but lost a hotly contested race to George W. Bush.

What Clinton cabinet members were the first women to hold such positions in American history?

Madeleine Albright and Janet Reno were the first women to serve as secretary of state and U.S. attorney general, respectively, in American history. Born in Czechoslovakia, Albright served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 1993 before Clinton elevated her as secretary of state in 1997, replacing Warren Christopher. The Senate confirmed her by a vote of ninety-nine to zero. She later published her memoir titled Madam Secretary (2003).

Janet Reno became the first female U.S. attorney general in U.S. history in 1993. Clinton had actually chosen Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood, but both of them withdrew their names from consideration after both admitted they had employed an illegal alien as nannies. Reno, a graduate of Harvard law school, had served as state attorney for Miami-Dade County for many years. She helped to create the nation’s first drug court during her tenure. She served as Clinton’s only attorney general.


What foreign policy mistake led to the death of nearly a million people?

The Clinton Administration failed to act quickly in Rwanda. Because of that inaction, the Rwanda Genocide occurred, in which the Hutu militants, including some in the government, slaughtered more than 800,000 Tutsis and more moderate Hutus. Many believe that if the United Nations and the United States had intervened more quickly, the bloodshed would have been much less. To his credit, in 1998, during a visit to Rwanda, Clinton apologized for not acting sooner.

What major piece of employment legislation did Clinton sign early in his presidency?

Clinton signed into law the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which provided that employees working for larger employers (employers who have fifty or more employees) can take a three-month period of paid or unpaid leave (at the employer’s discretion) for pregnancy or a serious medical condition.

What major legislative goal did Clinton fail to get through Congress?

Clinton supported health care reform, an issue that his wife, Hillary, spearheaded for the administration. However, the Republicans, the health insurance agencies, and the American Medical Association fought the measure with vigor. Ultimately, Hillary Clin- ton’s health care plan failed to get through Congress.

What federal law related to the veto power was signed by Clinton, but later invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court?

President Clinton signed into law the Line Item Veto Act of 1996, which gave the president the power to veto specific budgetary provisions of a bill without impacting the rest of the legislation. The measure had been introduced by Senator Robert Dole. The

U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the measure in Clinton v. City of New York (1998) by a six to three vote. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote: “this Act gives the President the unilateral power to change the text of duly enacted statutes.” He concluded: “If there is to be a new procedure in which the President will play a different role in determining the final text of what may ‘become a law,’ such change must come not by legislation but through the amendment procedures set forth in Article V of the Constitution.”

What initiative did Clinton establish to improve race relations?

In June 1997, Clinton issued an executive order establishing his One America in the 21st Century: The President’s Initiative on Race. The initiative sought to encourage community discussion about race and diversity, bringing people together, and healing divisions based on race and culture. Clinton named Dr. John Hope Franklin, a leading African American historian, as chairman of the advisory board for the initiative. The initiative led to two reports: One America in the 21st Century: Forging a New Future and Pathways to One America in the 21st Century: Promising Practices for Racial Reconciliation.

What major terrorist attacks occurred on U.S. soil during Clinton’s presidency?

In February 1993, a bomb in a car went off in the bottom parking lot of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. It killed six people and injured more than one thousand. Ramzi Yousef who had received some training from the terrorist group al-Qaeda—and several others planned and implemented the attack. Pakistani authorities captured Yousef in February 1995, and he later received a life sentence from a federal judge in New York. He exclaimed in federal court: “Yes, I am a terrorist, and proud of it as long as it is against the U.S. government and against Israel because you are more than terrorists; you are the one who invented terrorism and [are] using it every day. You are butchers, liars, and hypocrites.”

In April 1995, former U.S. military members and right-wing extremists Timo- thy McVeigh and Terry Nichols carried out the Oklahoma City bombing—the bombing of a federal building that led to the death of 168 people and more than 600 injuries. It was the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil until September 11, 2001, attack in New York City. McVeigh and Nichols had been upset over the U.S. invasion at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, in 1993 and the U.S. actions in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, where F.B.I. snipers killed some of white separatist’s Randy Weaver’s children. In fact, McVeigh planned to carry out the attack on April 19, 1995, two years to the date of the Waco invasion. McVeigh was convicted and later executed in June 1997, the first execution of a federal prisoner in thirty-eight years. Nichols was sentenced to multiple life sentences and will remain incarcerated for the rest of his life.

What happened during the Clinton impeachment process?

The Republican-controlled House voted to impeach Clinton on perjury and obstruction of justice in December 1998. However, in a twenty-one-day trial presided over by U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, the U.S. Senate acquitted Clinton on both counts. The Senate voted fifty to fifty and forty-five to fifty-five on the two counts, far short of the necessary sixty-seven votes needed for conviction.

What did Hillary Clinton call the impeachment process against her husband?

Hillary Clinton famously referred to the impeachment process as a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

What was controversial about Clinton’s pardons?

Clinton issued more than 140 pardons on his last day in office. Some of them were not very controversial, but the Marc Rich pardon was a notable exception. Rich was a billionaire commodities trader who made a fortune selling and trading in oil with countries such as Iran and Iraq. Prosecutors had charged Rich back in the 1980s with insider trading with Iran and tax evasion. Because his former wife, Denise Rich, had made very sizeable donations to the Clinton Library and the U.S. Democratic Party, it was alleged by some critics that the pardon was bought. Others alleged that Hugh Rodham, Hillary Clinton’s brother, had received money from those seeking pardons.

What was Troopergate?

Troopergate refers to allegations by two former Arkansas state troopers about then-governor Bill Clinton. The troopers—Larry Patterson and Roger Perry—alleged that they arranged sexual meetings with several women for Clinton when he was Arkansas governor.

What was Whitewater?

Whitewater refers to a failed land deal by Jim and Susan McDougal and Bill and Hillary Clinton. McDougal convinced Clinton to invest money in a land development project. The four agreed to buy more than 230 acres of land in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas, which they hoped they would sell for a handsome profit. Pursuant to that plan, the four formed the Whitewater Development Corporation. The Clintons claimed that McDougal was the active partner and that they were passive silent partners. James and Susan McDougal faced criminal charges, but the Clintons were never charged with a crime. James McDougal faced many criminal charges for fraud for allegedly using proceeds from federally insured savings and loans to pay for the land.

Who were Clinton’s U.S. Supreme Court appointees?

Clinton appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer as associate justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ginsburg, who had been called the “Thurgood Marshall of gender equality,” had successfully argued women’s rights cases before the Supreme Court in the early 1970s. She had a distinguished career in academia and served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Breyer had served for many years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he served as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg.


What books did Clinton write in his post-presidential period?

Clinton wrote a lengthy autobiography titled My Life (2004). He received a whopping $15 million-dollar advance for the book. It has sold millions of copies. He also authored Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World (2007), which was also well-received critically and commercially.

What humanitarian efforts has he engaged in with his former rival George H. W. Bush?

Former presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush have established foundations and worked as a team to pull together funding for relief efforts following natural disasters. In 2004, at the request of President George W. Bush, they led efforts to raise funds for humanitarian aid when a devastating tsunami hit Indonesia. They worked together again in 2005—once more by request of President George W. Bush—to help victims of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast. Past rivals, the two seem to have become close friends in their post-presidential years.

In what campaign did Bill Clinton take an active role?

Clinton took an active role in campaigning for his wife, Hillary’s run for the presidency in 2008. Bill vigorously campaigned for his wife, but some of his critical statements about her rival Barrack Obama and other seemingly insensitive comments led some to think that he may have harmed her campaign more than helped it.

What roles has he had with respect to Haiti?

Clinton was named the United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti in 2009. He traveled to Haiti in 2010 to discuss ways to help the country after a devastating earthquake. Along with former president George W. Bush, he worked on relief efforts for the ravaged island.

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