Hillary Rodham Clinton

(b. 1947)

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(b. 26 Oct. 1947).

US Senator, 2001–9, Secretary of State, 2009– Born at Park Ridge, Illinois, in 1947 and originally a Goldwater Republican, Hillary Rodham studied at Wellesley College and Yale Law School. She became a distinguished and successful lawyer associated with children's rights. She practised law in Arkansas and headed various state committees whilst her husband, Bill Clinton, was Governor of that state. Clinton gave up her legal practice to become First Lady in 1993, but maintained a prominent policy role by chairing the Task Force on National Health Reform which produced proposals for the reform of the US health care system that were defeated in a venomous congressional battle in 1994. Clinton attracted strong criticism for her liberalism, her prominence in politics, and her association with the Whitewater charges. She saved her husband's career twice, by standing by him publicly after he admitted sexual relations with Paula Jones in 1992, and after the Lewinsky Affair.

In 2000 Clinton became a politician in her own right, when she was elected to the Senate for the State of New York. In her first years as a Senator, Clinton consciously avoided the controversial national policy agendas which had been her passion as the President's wife, preferring instead to build up a reputation of looking after her constituents' interests. This was rewarded in 2006, when she was re-elected with 67 per cent of the popular vote, a remarkable achievement even in a Democrat-leaning state. Clinton pointed to this success as evidence that she had overcome the polarization of her husband's presidency, and that she could appeal to centrist and Republican voters. As by far the best known active Democratic politician in the USA, she announced her candidacy for the presidential race in 2008, but after a long and close campaign, she lost the nomination to Barack Obama, who was subsequently elected president. Given the bitter nature of the primary campaign, Clinton was a surprise choice as Secretary of State, a position in which she strove to rebuild American alliances around the world.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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