Hillary Rodham Clinton (1947- ) is a Democrat, the wife of former American President Bill Clinton and, since 2001, a senator from New York state. She hopes to win in 2008 to become the first female president in American history.
Her strengths: She is well-known, will have little trouble raising money and has the experience and political genius of her husband to guide her.
Her weaknesses: she is bad at public speaking and many will not trust a Democrat or a woman to be commander-in-chief of the military in time of war.
Although she is loved on the coasts, she is something of a hate figure in the middle of the country.
What people most remember: how she stood by her unfaithful husband during the Monica Lewinsky affair. It made her seem human and honourable. Quite unlike the cold, self-serving, play-it-safe Hillary Clinton that we are used to seeing.
Her most famous expressions:
- “a vast right-wing conspiracy” which she said wanted to take down her husband.
- “It takes a village” to bring up a child, the name of her first book.
- “stayed home and baked cookies” is what she could have done instead of working for left-wing causes.
In the 1990s when her husband was president she was well to the left politically. She pushed for universal healthcare, which her enemies called “Hillary Care”. It was a disaster. It never made it into law and only united the Republicans, who swept to power in Congress in 1994.
Since becoming senator in 2001 she has moved to the middle, especially on military and foreign affairs. She does not, for example, oppose the war in Iraq outright like most Democrats. While New York City is very left-wing, the rest of the state is not.
She was once a Republican, like her father. She even worked for Barry Goldwater, a hard-right Republican who ran for president in 1964. But by 1968 she had become a Democrat, working for Eugene McCarthy, who opposed the Vietnam war.
After college she went to Yale Law School where she met Bill Clinton. After law school he went back to Arkansas while she worked for the Children’s Defense Fund and the Watergate hearings. Only later did she move to Arkansas. They married in 1978, but she did not start using her married name till four years later. He became governor while she worked at the Rose Law Firm with Vince Foster.
It was then that the Clintons got involved in the questionable Whitewater land deal.
She is not from New York, by the way. She grew up in Park Ridge near Chicago, in the same time and place as actor Harrison Ford. The Clintons did not move to New York till 2001 when she wanted to become senator.
If Hillary Clinton loses and does not become president, she will be remembered largely as a first lady, what Americans call the wife of the president. It is a position of honour but some make it into one of political power, as Hillary Clinton and her hero Eleanor Roosevelt did.
But if Hillary Clinton wins, then Americans will have to think of a name for the husband of the president.