William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton
(born William Jefferson Blythe
August 19, 1946) was the forty-second President of the United States,
serving from 1993 to 2001. Before his presidency, Clinton served nearly
twelve years as the 50th and 52nd Governor of Arkansas. He was the
third-youngest president, older than Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.
He became president at the end of the Cold War, and is known as the first
baby boomer president, as he was born in the period after the Second World
Clinton was described as
a New Democrat and was mainly responsible for the Third Way philosophy of
governance that came to epitomize his two terms as president.
His policies, on issues such as the North American Free Trade Agreement,
have been described as "centrist."
 Clinton presided over the
longest period of peace-time economic expansion in American history, which
included a balanced budget and a federal surplus.
His presidency was also quickly challenged. On the heels of a failed attempt
at health care reform with a Democratic Congress, Republicans won control of
the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years.
In his second term he was impeached by the U.S. House for perjury,
but was subsequently acquitted by the United States Senate and completed his
Clinton left office with a 65% approval rating, the highest
end-of-presidency rating of any President that came into office after World
War II. However, public reaction to the Lewinsky scandal left a mixed
impression about his personal character. ABC News characterized public
consensus on Clinton as, "You can't trust him, he's got weak morals and
ethics — and he's done a heck of a good job."
Since leaving office, Clinton has been involved in public speaking and
humanitarian work. He created the William J. Clinton Foundation to promote
and address international causes, such as treatment and prevention of
HIV/AIDS and global warming. In 2004, he released a personal autobiography,
My Life. His wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is the Junior United
States Senator from the state of New York, where they both currently reside,
and a Democratic candidate for president in the 2008 election.
Early life and education
William Jefferson Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe III in Hope,
Arkansas, and raised in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His father was William
Jefferson Blythe, Jr., a traveling salesman, who died in a car accident
three months prior to the birth of his son.
In 1950, his mother, Virginia Dell Cassidy (1923-1994), married Roger
Clinton, a partner with his brother in an automobile dealership.
In a television interview, he said his mother's great-grandmother was
Cherokee, which would make him the first president with non-white ancestry.
It was not until Billy (as he was known then) turned 14 that he formally
adopted his stepfather's surname of Clinton, although he had assumed use of
it prior to that. Clinton has said that he remembers his stepfather as a
gambler and an alcoholic who regularly abused his mother and, at times, his
half-brother, Roger, Jr.
In Hot Springs, Clinton attended St. John's Catholic Elementary School,
Ramble Elementary School, and Hot Springs High School - where he was an
active student leader, avid reader, and musician.
He was in the chorus and played the saxophone, winning first chair in the
state band's saxophone section. He briefly considered dedicating his life to
music, but as he noted in his autobiography My Life:
“(…) Sometime in my sixteenth year I decided I wanted to be in public life
as an elected official. I loved music and thought I could be very good, but
I knew I would never be John Coltrane or Stan Getz. I was interested in
medicine and thought I could be a fine doctor, but I knew I would never be
Michael DeBakey. But I knew I could be great in public service.”
1963, two influential moments in Clinton's life contributed to his decision
to become a public figure. One was his visit to the White House to meet
President John F. Kennedy, as a Boys Nation senator.
The other was listening to Martin Luther King's 1963 I Have a Dream
speech (which he memorized).
Clinton was also a member of Youth Order of DeMolay, but he never
actually became a Freemason.
He is a member of Kappa Kappa Psi's National Honorary Band Fraternity, Inc.
With the aid of scholarships, Clinton attended the Edmund A. Walsh School of
Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., receiving a
Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (B.S.F.S.) degree in 1968. It was at
Georgetown that he interned for Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright.
While in college he became a brother of Alpha Phi Omega and was elected to
Phi Beta Kappa.
Upon graduation he won a Rhodes Scholarship to University College, Oxford
where he studied government.
He developed an interest in rugby union, playing at Oxford and later for the
Little Rock Rugby club in Arkansas. While at Oxford he also participated in
Vietnam War protests, including organizing an October 1969 Moratorium event.
In later life he admitted to smoking cannabis at the university, but claimed
that he "never inhaled".
After Oxford, Clinton attended Yale Law School and obtained a Juris
Doctor degree in 1973.
While at Yale, he began dating law student Hillary Rodham who was a year
ahead of him. They married in 1975 and their only child, Chelsea, was born
Early political career
Governor of Arkansas
After graduating from Yale Law School, Clinton returned to Arkansas and
became a University of Arkansas law professor. A year later, in 1974, he ran
for the House of Representatives. The incumbent, John Paul Hammerschmidt,
defeated Clinton with 52% of the vote. In 1976, Clinton was elected Attorney
General of Arkansas without opposition in the general election.
In 1978, Bill Clinton was elected Governor of Arkansas for the first
time; at 32, he was the youngest governor in the country. He worked on
educational reform and the infrastructure of Arkansas's roads, but his first
term also was fraught with difficulties, including an unpopular motor
vehicle tax and citizens' anger over the escape of Cuban refugees (from the
Mariel boatlift) detained in Fort Chaffee in 1980. A political maverick,
Monroe Schwarzlose of Kingsland in Cleveland County, polled a surprising 31%
of the vote against Clinton in the 1980 Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Some suggested that Schwarzlose's unexpected voter turnout foreshadowed
Clinton's defeat in the general election that year by Republican challenger
Frank D. White. As Clinton once joked, he was the youngest ex-governor in
the nation's history.
In 1982, Clinton reclaimed his old job as governor and kept it for
another 10 years, helping Arkansas transform its economy and significantly
improving the state's educational system. He became a leading figure among
the New Democrats.
The New Democrats, organized within the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC)
were a branch of the Democratic Party that called for welfare reform and
smaller government, a policy supported by both Democrats and Republicans. He
served as Chair of the National Governors Association from 1986 to 1987,
bringing him to an audience beyond Arkansas.
Clinton made economic growth, job creation and educational improvement
high priorities of his administration. He removed the sales tax from
medicine for senior citizens and increased the home property tax exemption
for the elderly. Clinton was also responsible for some state educational
improvement programs, notably more spending for schools, rising
opportunities for gifted children, an increase in vocational education, and
raising of teachers' salaries.
Clinton's approach answered conservative criticism during his terms as
governor, but personal and business transactions made by the Clintons during
this period became the basis of the Whitewater investigation, which dogged
his later presidential administration.
After very extensive investigation over several years, no indictments were
made against the Clintons related to the years in Arkansas.
Campaign for the Democratic nomination
There was some media speculation in 1987 that Clinton would enter the
race for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination after then-New York
Governor Mario Cuomo declined to run and Democratic front-runner Gary Hart
left the nomination owing to revelations about marital infidelity. Then
often called the "Boy Governor" because of his youthful appearance,
Clinton decided to remain as Arkansas governor and postpone his presidential
ambitions until 1992.
Clinton then endorsed Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis for the
nomination. He did, however, give the opening night address at the 1988
Democratic National Convention, a nationally-televised speech that
introduced him to the American public, but was criticized for its length.
Presenting himself as a moderate and a member of the New Democrat wing of
the Democratic Party, he headed the moderate Democratic Leadership Council
in 1990 and 1991.
In 1992, Clinton was the early favorite of the Democratic Party for the
presidential nomination and was able to garner the support of many
superdelegates even before the first nominating contests were conducted.
However, Clinton's presidential bid ran into difficulty in the opening
weeks. First he finished well behind in the Iowa caucus, which was largely
uncontested due to the presence of Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who subsequently
won. Secondly the campaign encountered difficulty when, during the New
Hampshire Primary campaign, revelations of a possible extramarital affair
with Gennifer Flowers began to surface. Clinton and his wife Hillary decided
to go on 60 Minutes following the Super Bowl to refute these charges
of infidelity, as Clinton had fallen far behind former Massachusetts Senator
Paul Tsongas in the New Hampshire polls.
Their television appearance was a calculated risk, but it seemed to pay
off as Clinton regained several delegates. He finished second to Tsongas in
the New Hampshire primary, but the media viewed it as a moral victory for
Clinton, since he came within single digits of winning after trailing badly
in the polls. Clinton shrewdly labeled himself "The Comeback Kid" on
election night to help foster this perception and came out of New Hampshire
as the leader by a large percentage. Tsongas, on the other hand, picked up
little or no momentum from his victory.
Clinton used his new-found momentum to win many of the Democratic
Southern primaries, including the big prizes of Florida and Texas, and build
up a sizable delegate lead over his opponents in the race for the 1992
Democratic presidential nomination. However, there were still some doubts
whether he could secure the nomination, as former California Governor Jerry
Brown was scoring victories elsewhere and Clinton had yet to win a
significant contest outside of his native South.
With no major Southern state remaining on the primary calendar, Clinton
targeted the New York primary, which contained a large number of delegates
and was to be his proving ground. He scored a resounding victory in New York
City. He finally shed his image as a regional candidate.
Having been transformed into the consensus candidate, he secured the
Democratic Party nomination, finishing with a victory in Jerry Brown's home
state of California.
Clinton won the 1992 presidential election (43.0% of the vote) against
Republican incumbent George H. W. Bush (37.4% of the vote) and billionaire
populist H. Ross Perot, who ran as an independent (18.9% of the vote) on a
platform focusing on domestic issues; a large part of his success was Bush's
steep decline in public approval. Previously described as "unbeatable"
because his approval ratings were in the 80% range during the Persian Gulf
conflict, Bush saw his public approval rating drop to just over 40% by
election time because of a souring economy.
Additionally, Bush reneged on his promise not to raise taxes when he
compromised with Democrats in an attempt to lower the Federal deficits; this
hurt his approval rating among conservatives. Clinton capitalized on Bush's
policy switch, repeatedly condemning the president for making a promise he
failed to keep.
Finally, Bush's party base was in disarray. Conservatives had previously
been united by anti-communism, but with the end of the Cold War, new issues
would have to emerge. The 1992 Republican National Convention was perceived
by some moderate voters to have been uninspiring and usurped by religious
conservatives. All of this
worked in Clinton's favor. Clinton could point to his moderate, "New
Democrat" record as governor of Arkansas, though some on the far left
remained suspicious of him leading up to the election.
Many Democrats who had supported Ronald Reagan and Bush in previous
elections switched their allegiance to Clinton.
His election ended an era of Republican rule of the White House for the
previous 12 years, and 20 of the previous 24 years. The election also gave
the Democrats full control of both branches of Congress, the House of
Representatives and the Senate. Clinton was the first president to enjoy
this privilege since Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s.
Standing over 6'2.5" tall (1.88 m), Clinton was one of the tallest U.S.
Presidents in the nation's history.
First term, 1993–1997
Clinton was inaugurated on January 20, 1993 as the 42nd President of the
United States. In his inaugural address he declared that:
“Our democracy must be not only the envy of the world but the engine of our
own renewal. There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by
what is right with America.”
Shortly after taking office, Clinton
signed the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, which required large
employers to allow their employees to take unpaid leave because of pregnancy
or a serious medical condition. While this action was popular, Clinton's
attempt to fulfill another campaign promise of allowing openly homosexual
men and women to serve in the armed forces was the subject of criticism. His
handling of the issue garnered criticism from the left (for being too
tentative in promoting gay rights) and the right (for being too insensitive
to military life). After much debate, Congress implemented the "Don't Ask,
Don't Tell" policy, stating that homosexual men and women may serve in the
military as long as their sexuality is kept secret. Later in his presidency,
in 1999, Clinton said he did not "think any serious person could say" that
the way the policy was being implemented was not "out of whack".
Some gay rights advocates criticized Clinton for not going far enough and
accused him of making his campaign promise simply to get votes and
These advocates felt Clinton should have integrated the military by
executive order, noting that President Harry Truman ended racial segregation
of the armed forces in that manner. Clinton's defenders argued that an
executive order might have prompted the Senate, which then had a Democratic
majority, to write the exclusion of gays into law, potentially making it
even harder to integrate the military in the future.
The Clinton-Gore administration launched the first official White House
website on 21 October 1994.
It was followed by three more versions, resulting in the final edition
launched in 2000.
The White House website was part of a wider movement of the Clinton
administration toward web-based communication. According to Robert Longley,
"Clinton and Gore were responsible for pressing almost all federal agencies,
the U.S. court system and the U.S. military onto the Internet, thus opening
up America's government to more of America's citizens than ever before. On
17 July 1996, President Clinton issued Executive Order 13011 - Federal
Information Technology, ordering the heads of all federal agencies to fully
utilize information technology to make the information of the agency easily
accessible to the public."
Also in 1993, Clinton promoted another controversial issue, this time
regarding free trade when he supported the North American Free Trade
Agreement for ratification by the U.S. Senate. Clinton, along with most of
his Democratic Leadership Committee allies, strongly supported free trade
measures, however there was strong opposition from within the main
democratic party. Opposition chiefly came from anti-trade Republicans,
protectionist Democrats and supporters of Ross Perot. The bill passed the
house with 234 votes against 200 opposed (132 Republicans and 102 Democrats
voting in favor, 156 Democrats, 43 Republicans, and 1 independent against).
The treaty was then ratified by the Senate and signed into law by the
President on 1 January 1994.
Clinton signed the Brady Bill, which imposed a five-day waiting period on
handgun purchases. He also expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit, a subsidy
for low income workers.
One of the most prominent items on Clinton's legislative agenda was a
health care reform plan, the result of a taskforce headed by Hillary
Clinton, aimed at achieving universal coverage via a national healthcare
plan. Though initially well-received in political circles, it was ultimately
doomed by well-organized opposition from conservatives, the American Medical
Association, and the health insurance industry. However, John F. Harris, a
biographer of Clinton's, states that the program failed because of a lack of
co-ordination within the White House.
Despite his party holding a majority in the House and Senate, the effort to
create a national healthcare system ultimately died under heavy public
pressure. It was the first major legislative defeat of Clinton's
Two months later, after two years of Democratic Party control under
Clinton's leadership, the mid-term elections in 1994 proved disastrous for
the Democrats. This was the first time the Democratic Party had lost control
of both houses of Congress in 40 years.
In August 1993, Clinton signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of
1993, which passed Congress without a single Republican vote. It raised
taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of taxpayers,
while cutting taxes for 15 million low-income families and making tax cuts
available to 90% of small businesses.
Additionally, it mandated that the budget be balanced over a number of
years, through the implementation of spending restraints.
Second term, 1997–2001
In the 1996 presidential election, Clinton was re-elected, receiving
49.2% of the popular vote over Republican Bob Dole (40.7% of the popular
vote) and Reform candidate Ross Perot (8.4% of the popular vote), becoming
the first Democrat to win reelection to the presidency since Franklin
Roosevelt. The Republicans lost a few seats in the House and gained a few in
the Senate, but overall retained control of the Congress. Clinton received
379, or over 70% of the Electoral College votes, with Dole receiving 159
On January 21, 1998, a controversy was raised by the media and prominent
Republicans over Clinton's
relationship with a young White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, resulting in
the Lewinsky scandal.
In a lame duck session after the 1998 elections, the Republican-controlled
House voted to impeach Clinton for matters related to the scandal. The
Republican-controlled Senate then voted to acquit Clinton the following
year, and he remained in office to complete his term.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, enacted by Clinton on October 21,
1998, served as the first significant amendment to the Copyright Act since
1976. The DMCA extended the protection of intellectual property to outlaw
reverse engineering of digital protection. It also provided a framework for
sound recording copyright owners and recording artists to seek public
performance royalties under statute, which proved to be a landmark
achievement for the recording industry.
The Elián González affair took prominent stage during early 2000. The boy
survived a boat wreck as his family fled from Cuba, but his mother died,
setting off an international legal fight for where the boy should stay.
Eventually the administration, via Janet Reno, had González forcefully
obtained and returned to Cuba.
Two notable military events occurred during Clinton's second term. The
first was Operation Desert Fox, a bombing campaign designed to weaken Saddam
Hussein's grip on power over Iraq. The four-day campaign lasted from
December 16 to December 19, 1998. It began after Clinton signed H.R. 4655
into law on October 31, 1998, which instituted a policy of "regime change"
against Iraq, though it explicitly stated that it did not speak to the use
of American military forces.
The law was signed months after his State of the Union Address to Congress
where Clinton warned Congress of Saddam Hussein's pursuit of nuclear
"Together we must also confront the new hazards of chemical and biological
weapons, and the outlaw states, terrorists and organized criminals seeking
to acquire them. Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade,
and much of his nation's wealth, not on providing for the Iraqi people, but
on developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to
deliver them. The United Nations weapons inspectors have done a truly
remarkable job, finding and destroying more of Iraq's arsenal than was
destroyed during the entire gulf war. Now, Saddam Hussein wants to stop them
from completing their mission. I know I speak for everyone in this chamber,
Republicans and Democrats, when I say to Saddam Hussein, "You cannot defy
the will of the world," and when I say to him, "You have used weapons of
mass destruction before; we are determined to deny you the capacity to use
The second was Operation Allied Force, a 1999 NATO
bombing campaign against the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Clinton
authorized the use of American troops in the mission to stop the ethnic
cleansing and genocide
of Albanians at the hands of the nationalist Serbians. General Wesley Clark
was Supreme Allied Commander of NATO at the time and oversaw the mission.
The bombing campaign ended on June 10, 1999, with United Nations Security
Council Resolution 1244 adopted that same day, placing Kosovo under U.N.
administration and authorizing a peacekeeping force.
NATO claimed to have suffered zero deaths in combat,
and two deaths total from an Apache helicopter crash.
Opinions in the popular press criticized pre-war genocide claims by Clinton
and his administration as greatly exaggerated.
A U.N. Court ruled that genocide did not take place, although it did
recognize, "a systematic campaign of terror, including murders, rapes,
arsons and severe maltreatments".
The term "ethnic cleansing" was used as an alternative to "genocide" to
denote not just ethnically motivated murder but also displacement, though
critics charge there is no difference.
Slobodan Milošević, the President of Serbia at the time, was eventually
charged with the "murders of about 600 individually identified ethnic
Albanians" and "crimes against humanity".
In the closing year of his administration, Clinton attempted to address
the Arab-Israeli conflict. After initial successes such as the Oslo accords
of the early-1990s, the situation had quietly deteriorated, breaking down
completely with the start of the Second Intifada. Clinton brought Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat
together at Camp David.
However, Barak and Arafat could not find common ground, and the negotiations
were ultimately unsuccessful.
In November 2000, Clinton became the first president to visit Vietnam
since the end of the Vietnam War.
Clinton remained popular with the public throughout his two terms as
President, ending his presidential career with a 65% approval rating, the
highest end-of-term approval rating of any President since Eisenhower.
Clinton also oversaw a boom of the U.S. economy. Under Clinton, the United
States had a projected federal budget surplus for the first time since 1969.
Legislation and programs
Major legislation signed
- 1993-02-05 - Family and Medical Leave Act
- 1993-08-10 - Omnibus Budget
Reconciliation Act of 1993 - Raised income tax rates; income
tax, top rate: 39.6%; corporate tax: 35%
- 1993-09-21 - creation of the AmeriCorps
- 1993-11-30 - Brady Bill
- 1994-09-13 - Violent Crime Control and
Law Enforcement Act, part of an omnibus crime bill, the
federal death penalty was expanded to some 60 different
offenses (see Federal assault weapons ban)
- 1996-02-01 - Communications Decency Act
- 1996-02-08 - Telecom Reform Act:
eliminated major ownership restrictions for radio and
- 1996-02-26 - Personal Responsibility and
Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, a welfare reform bill
- 1996-03-14 - authorized $100 million
counter-terrorism agreement with Israel to track down and
root out terrorists.
- 1996-04-09 - Line Item Veto Act
- 1996-04-24 - Antiterrorism and Effective
Death Penalty Act
- 1996-08-20 - Minimum wage Increase Act
- 1996-09-21 - Defense of Marriage Act,
allowed states to refuse recognition of certain same-sex
marriages, and defined marriage as between a male and female
for purposes of federal law
- 1997-08-05 - Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997
- 1998-10-28 - Digital Millennium Copyright
- 1998-10-31 - Iraq Liberation Act
Major legislation vetoed
- national budget
- H.R. 1833, partial
birth abortion ban
- Twice vetoed welfare reform before
- the Private Securities Litigation Reform
Act. Congress overrode the veto, however, to enact the bill
Proposals not passed by Congress
- Health care reform
- Campaign finance reform (1993)
- Tried to get Ehud Barak of Israel and
Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian National Authority, to
agree to a final settlement agreement.
- Initiated the Don't ask, don't tell
policy toward gays in the military, 1993.
- Reversed a ban on senior Sinn Féin
politicians entering the U.S.
- Proposed a national challenge to end the
racial divide in America, the One America Initiative.
- Extraordinary rendition got approval for
the first time in the USA from the Clinton administration.
Supreme Court appointments
Clinton appointed the following justices to the Supreme Court:
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg - 1993
- Stephen Breyer - 1994
While Clinton's job approval rating varied over the course of his first
term, ranging from a low of 36% in mid-1993 to a high of 64% in late-1993
and early-1994, his job
approval rating consistently ranged from the high-50s to the high-60s in his
second term. Clinton's
approval rating reached its highest point at 73% approval in the aftermath
of the impeachment proceedings in 1998 and 1999.
A CNN/USA TODAY/Gallup poll conducted as he was leaving office, revealed
deeply contradictory attitudes regarding Clinton.
Although his approval rating at 68% was higher than that of any other
departing president since polling began more than seventy years earlier,
only 45% said they would miss him. While 55% thought he "would have
something worthwhile to contribute and should remain active in public life",
68% thought he would be remembered for his "involvement in personal scandal"
rather than his accomplishments as president, and 58% answered "No" to the
question "Do you generally think Bill Clinton is honest and trustworthy?".
47% of the respondents identified themselves as being Clinton supporters.
47% said he would be remembered as either "outstanding" or "above average"
as a president while 22% said he would be remembered as "below average" or
In recent public rankings of American presidents, Bill Clinton ranked
highly. The Gallup Organization published a poll in February 2007 that asked
respondents to name the greatest president in U.S. history; Clinton came in
fourth place, capturing 13% of the vote. In a 2006 Quinnipiac University
poll that asked respondents to name the best president since World War II,
Clinton ranked second with 25% of the vote, 3% behind Ronald Reagan.
However, in the same poll, when respondents were asked to name the worst
president since World War II, Clinton came in third with 16% of the vote, 1%
behind Nixon and 18% behind George W. Bush.
In May 2006, a CNN poll comparing Clinton's job performance with that of
his successor, George W. Bush, found that a strong majority of respondents
said Clinton outperformed Bush in six different areas questioned.
As the first Baby Boomer president, Clinton was the first president in a
half-century not to have been shaped by World War II. The public image of
Clinton was important throughout his presidency and his innovative use of
soundbite-ready dialogue, personal charisma, and public perception-oriented
campaigning is stated by authors Martin Walker and Bob Woodward as one of
the major reasons for his high public approval ratings.
With his pioneering use of pop culture in his campaigning, such as playing
the saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show, Clinton was sometimes
described by religious conservatives as "the MTV president".
Clinton was also very popular among African Americans and made improving
race relations a major theme of his presidency.
In 1998, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison called Clinton "the
first Black president," saying "Clinton displays almost every trope of
blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class,
saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas," and
comparing Clinton's sex life, scrutinized despite his career
accomplishments, to the stereotyping and double standards that blacks
Public speaking and campaigning
Clinton has engaged in a career as a public speaker on a variety of
issues. In his speaking engagements around the world, he continues to
comment on aspects of contemporary politics.
One notable theme is his advocacy of multilateral solutions to problems
facing the world. Clinton's close relationship with the African American
community has been highlighted in his post-presidential career with the
opening of his personal office in the Harlem section of New York City.
After the Clintons had moved to Chappaqua, New York, in the northern
suburbs of New York City, at the end of his Presidency, he assisted his
wife, Hillary Clinton, in her campaign for office as Senator from New York.
Clinton also campaigned for a number of Democratic candidates for the Senate
in the 2002 elections.
On July 26, 2004, Clinton spoke for the fifth consecutive time to the
Democratic National Convention, using the opportunity to praise candidate
John Kerry. In it, he criticized President George W. Bush's depiction of
Kerry, saying that "strength and wisdom are not opposing values."
Unfortunately for Kerry, despite Clinton's strong speech, the
post-convention bounce to his poll numbers was less than was hoped for.
Clinton has given dozens of paid speeches each year since leaving office,
mostly to corporations and philanthropic groups in North America and Europe,
earning sums from $100,000 to $300,000 per speech.
He earned more than $30 million in speaking fees from 2001 to 2005,
according to his wife’s Senate ethics reports.
In 2007, it is now estimated that he has amassed around $40 million (£20
million) from speaking fees.
Clinton is currently active supporting his wife Hillary Clinton as a
Democratic candidate for the Presidential election of 2008. He has helped
make public speeches supporting his wife and engaged in efforts to help
raise funds for her campaign.
He was the opening speaker at the Ontario Economic Summit held on
November 13, 2007 in which he addressed people on various subjects including
Canada's role in Afghanistan, environmentalism and access to healthcare.
William J. Clinton Presidential Center
Clinton dedicated his presidential library, the William J. Clinton
Presidential Center, which has the largest archives of any presidential
library, in Little Rock, Arkansas on November 18, 2004.
Under rainy skies, Clinton received words of praise from former presidents
Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, as well as from the current president,
George W. Bush. He was also treated to a musical rendition from Bono and The
Edge from U2, who expressed their gratitude at Clinton's efforts to resolve
the Northern Ireland conflict during his presidency.
In 2004, Clinton released a personal autobiography, My Life. The
book was published by the Knopf Publishing Group at Random House on June 22,
2004, and set a worldwide record for single day non-fiction book sales
according to the publisher.
Later released as an audio book, total sales were in excess of 400,000
copies. He received U.S. $12 million in advance as a writer's fee.
In September 2007, he released a second book, Giving: How Each of Us
Can Change the World, which also became a bestseller.
William Clinton Foundation
The William J. Clinton Foundation promotes and provides for a number of
humanitarian causes. Within the foundation, the Clinton Foundation HIV and
AIDS Initiative (CHAI) strives to make treatment for HIV/AIDS more
affordable and to implement large-scale integrated care, treatment, and
prevention programs. While in Sydney to attend a Global Business Forum,
Clinton signed a memorandum of understanding on behalf of his presidential
foundation with the Australian government to promote HIV/AIDS programs in
the Asia-Pacific region.
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), funded by the Clinton Foundation,
was inaugurated September 15-September 17, 2005 in New York City to coincide
with the 2005 World Summit. The focus areas of the initiative include
attempts to address world problems such as global public health, poverty
alleviation and religious and ethnic conflict.
On May 3, 2005, Clinton announced through the William J. Clinton
Foundation an agreement by major soft drink manufacturers to stop selling
sugared sodas and juice drinks in public primary and secondary schools.
Other humanitarian work
Clinton has also engaged in humanitarian work in cooperation with fellow
former-President George H. W. Bush, specifically in the aftermath of the
Asian tsunami disaster and Hurricane Katrina. They were later awarded on
October 5, 2006, the 2006 Philadelphia Liberty Medal for their work on the
Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund and Bush-Clinton Tsunami Fund.
They also spoke together at the funeral of Boris Yeltsin.
On January 3, 2005, President George W. Bush named Clinton and George H.
W. Bush to lead a nationwide campaign to help the victims of the 2004 Indian
Ocean earthquake. On February 1, 2005, he was selected by U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan to head the United Nations earthquake and
tsunami relief and reconstruction effort.
Five days later, Clinton appeared with Bush on the Super Bowl XXXIX
pre-game show on Fox in support of their bipartisan effort to raise money
for relief of the disaster through the USA Freedom Corps, an action which
Bush described as "transcending politics".
Thirteen days later, they traveled to the affected areas to see the relief
On August 31, 2005, following the devastation of the Gulf Coast by
Hurricane Katrina, Clinton again worked with George H. W. Bush to coordinate
private relief donations, in a campaign similar to their earlier one in
response to the Indian Ocean tsunami.
In April 2007, Clinton made his first visit to new United Nations
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The 45-minute meeting, called at Clinton's
request, touched on a host of topics, including the continuing human tragedy
in Africa, especially in the Darfur region. The Middle East, the conflict in
Iraq, and Iran's nuclear standoff with the U.N. were also on the agenda, as
well as the continuing HIV/AIDS crisis.
On August 1, 2006, the William J. Clinton Foundation entered into a
partnership with the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group to create the
Clinton Foundation Climate Change Initiative (CCI), agreeing to provide
resources to allow the participating cities to enter into an energy-saving
product purchasing consortium and to provide technical and communications
On December 9, 2005, speaking at the United Nations Climate Change
Conference in Montreal, Clinton publicly criticized the Bush administration
for its handling of emissions control. Further, Clinton twice visited the
University of California, Los Angeles in 2006 to promote initiatives
concerning the environment. First, on August 1, 2006, he met with Tony
Blair, Ken Livingstone, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Gavin Newsom to advertise
the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group. On October 13, 2006, he spoke in
favor of California Proposition 87 on alternative energy, which was voted
On September 2, 2004, Clinton had an episode of angina and was evaluated
at Northern Westchester Hospital. It was determined that he had not suffered
a coronary infarction, and he was sent home, returning the following day for
angiography, which disclosed multiple vessel coronary artery disease. He was
transferred to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centre in New York City, where
he underwent a successful quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery on
September 6, 2004. The medical team stated that, had he not had surgery, he
would likely have suffered a massive heart attack within a few months.
On March 10, 2005, he underwent a follow-up surgery to remove scar tissue
and fluid from his left chest cavity, a result of his open-heart surgery.
He has since recovered.
Honours and accolades
In 1998, Clinton was awarded the First Class with Collar Chain of the
Order of the White Lion from the President of the Czech Republic.
In December 1999, Clinton was among 18 included in Gallup's List of
Widely Admired People of the 20th century, from a poll conducted of the
Clinton received the 2000 International Charlemagne Prize of the city of
Aachen (a prestigious European prize),
2004 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children for narrating the
Russian National Orchestra's album Wolf Tracks and Peter and the Wolf
(along with Mikhail Gorbachev and Sophia Loren) and 2005 Grammy Award for
Best Spoken Word Album for My Life, 2005 J. William Fulbright Prize
for International Understanding,
and 2007 TED Prize (named for the confluence of technology, entertainment
On October 17, 2002, Clinton became the first white person to be inducted
into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.
He received an honorary doctorate of laws from Tulane University in New
Orleans (along with George H. W. Bush),
and also from the University of Michigan.
He is the recipient of an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Pace
University's Lubin School of Business,
from Rochester Institute of Technology,
and from Knox College.
On November 22, 2004, New York Republican Governor George Pataki named
Clinton and the other living former presidents (Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter,
and George H. W. Bush) as honorary members of the board rebuilding the World
In 2005, the University of Arkansas System opened the Clinton School of
Public Service on the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Center.
On December 3, 2006, Clinton was made an honorary chief and Grand
Companion of the Order of Logohu by Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea
Michael Somare. Clinton was awarded the honor for his "outstanding
leadership for the good of mankind during two terms as U.S. president" and
his commitment to the global fight against HIV/AIDS and other health
challenges in developing countries.
On June 2, 2007, Clinton, along with former president George H. Bush,
received the International Freedom Conductor Award, for their help with the
fund raising following the tsunami that devastated South Asia in 2004.
In Europe, Bill Clinton remains popular, especially in a large part of
the Balkans and in Ireland. In Priština, Kosovo, a five-storey picture of
the former president was permanently engraved into the side of the tallest
building in the province as a token of gratitude for Clinton's support
during the crisis in Kosovo.
A statue of Clinton was also built and a road was named Clinton Boulevard.
Impeachment and trial in the Senate
In 1998, as a result of allegations that he had lied during grand jury
testimony regarding his testimony during the Paula Jones civil deposition,
Clinton was the second U.S. president to be impeached by the House of
Representatives (the other being Andrew Johnson). The House held no serious
impeachment hearings before the 1998 mid-term elections. Though the mid-term
elections held in November 1998 were at the 6-year point in an 8-year
presidency (a time in the electoral cycle where the party holding the White
House usually loses Congressional seats) the Democratic Party actually
gained several seats.
The Republican leadership then called a lame duck session in December 1998
to hold impeachment proceedings.
Although the House Judiciary Committee hearings were perfunctory and
ended in a straight party line vote, the debate on the floor of the House
was lively. The two charges that were passed in the House (largely on the
basis of Republican support but with a handful of Democratic votes as well)
were for perjury and obstruction of justice. The perjury charge arose from
Clinton's testimony about his relationship to Monica Lewinsky during a
sexual harassment lawsuit (later dismissed, appealed and settled for
$850,000) brought by former
Arkansas-state employee Paula Jones. The obstruction charge was based on his
actions during the subsequent investigation of that testimony. The Senate
later voted to acquit Clinton on both charges.
The Senate refused to convene to hold an impeachment trial before the end of
the old term, so the trial was held over until the next Congress. Clinton
was represented by Washington law firm Williams & Connolly.
On February 12, 1999, the Senate concluded a 21-day trial with the vote
on both counts falling short of the Constitutional requirement of a
two-thirds majority to convict and remove an office holder. The final vote
was generally along party lines, with no Democrats voting guilty, although
for both charges some Republicans voted not guilty. On the perjury charge 55
senators voted to acquit, including 10 Republicans, and 45 voted to convict;
on the obstruction charge the Senate voted 50-50.
Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, being the only two American presidents to
be impeached, both served the remainder of their terms.
In a separate case, Clinton was disbarred from his Arkansas law license
for five years and ordered to pay $25,000 in fines to that state's bar
officials. The agreement
came on the condition that Whitewater prosecutors would not pursue federal
perjury charges against him.
In October 2001, Clinton was suspended by the Supreme Court and, facing
disbarment from the high court as well, Clinton resigned from the Supreme
Court bar in November.
The White House travel office controversy began on May 19, 1993, when
several longtime employees of the White House Travel Office were fired. A
whistleblower's letter, written during the previous administration,
triggered an FBI investigation, which revealed evidence of financial
malfeasance. Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr investigated the firings and
could find no evidence of wrongdoing on the Clintons' part.
The White House FBI files controversy of June 1996 arose around improper
access to FBI security-clearance documents. Craig Livingstone, head of the
White House Office of Personnel Security, improperly requested, and received
from the FBI, background report files without asking permission of the
subject individuals; many of these were employees of former Republican
administrations. In March 2000, Independent Counsel Robert Ray determined
that there was no credible evidence of any criminal activity. Ray's report
further stated "there was no substantial and credible evidence that any
senior White House official was involved" in seeking the files.
Pardons and campaign finance
On his last day in office (January 20, 2001), Clinton issued 141 pardons
and 36 commutations.
Most of the controversy surrounded Marc Rich and allegations that Hillary
Clinton's brother, Hugh Rodham, accepted payments in return for influencing
the president's decision-making regarding the pardons.
Some of Clinton's pardons remain a point of controversy.
The 1996 United States campaign finance controversy was an alleged effort
by the People's Republic of China (PRC) to influence the domestic policies
of the United States, prior to and during the Clinton administration and
also involved the fundraising practices of the administration itself.
Sexual assault allegation
Two claims of sexual misconduct on the part of Bill Clinton were alleged
by Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick (referred to as Jane Doe #5 by
Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr), during the Clinton administration.
Neither claim was proven in a court of law; neither claim ever resulted in
charges being made. In the Willey case no charges were brought and with
regard to a sexual allegation by Broaddrick, the Arkansas statute of
limitations had long since expired, and Broaddrick's only sworn statement
was a denial of the allegations she subsequently made.
Clinton and the death penalty
Clinton’s 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill expanded the application of the federal
death penalty, including to crimes not resulting in death such as running a
large-scale drug enterprise. Clinton remarked enthusiastically during his
re-election campaign, "My 1994 crime bill expanded the death penalty for
drug kingpins, murderers of federal law enforcement officers, and nearly 60
additional categories of violent felons."
While campaigning for U.S. President, Clinton returned to Arkansas to see
that Ricky Ray Rector would be executed. Though Rector's IQ was not known,
he was said to be profoundly retarded due to brain damage received during a
However, Clinton was the first President to pardon a death row inmate
since the federal death penalty was reintroduced in 1988.
|Governor of Arkansas
1979 – 1981
|Governor of Arkansas
1983 – 1992
|Chairman of the National
1986 – 1987
|President of the United
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
|Chair of the G8
Party political offices
|Democratic Party presidential
|Attorney General of Arkansas
1977 – 1979
Order of precedence in the United States of America
|United States order of
Former President of the United States
Time's Man of the Year
Time's Men of the Year
with Kenneth Starr