How Hillary Clinton Works

Hillary Clinton, shown in Chappaqua, N.Y., in February 2008, was supported by her daughter, Chelsea, and husband, former president Bill Clinton, during her bid for the presidency in 2008.
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Although she'd been a U.S. senator for just eight of her 60 years, by the time Hillary Clinton made a bid to become the first female president in the history of the United States, she was already an established political powerhouse. Hillary Clinton is a stalwart of the Democratic Party -- but her political beginnings are steeped in Republican activism.

As a child, she followed her father's example, becoming interested in Republican politics at a young age. She served as a "Goldwater Girl," a youth supporter of 1964 Republican Party presidential candidate Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater. As an undergraduate at Wellesley College, she was the president of the campus Republican group [source: Hillary Clinton].


At Wellesley, Clinton's liberal views began to emerge, creating a dichotomy with her conservative views. "I'm a heart liberal, but a mind conservative," she wrote to a friend while in college [source: UC Berkeley].

Her position in the Democratic Party solidified quickly after she planted herself firmly in the left. In 1973, Clinton worked in the Southwestern United States for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), registering voters in the border states. It was a turning point for her political education: "We had a chance to go into people's homes," she told a crowd in El Paso 35 years later on the 2008 campaign trail. "We ate a lot of great food. We listened to some wonderful music. And we registered a few voters, too" [source: Washington Post].

Five years after her stint as a volunteer for the DNC, Clinton became the Democrat first lady of Arkansas.

It's impossible to tell the political story of Hillary Clinton without also describing her husband's political career; the two are inextricably linked. They are, as described by CNN, "the ultimate political power couple" [source: CNN].

Bill Clinton famously remarked during the 1992 presidential campaign that if the American people elected him, they would get "two for the price of one" [source: Washington Post]. As first lady, Clinton was a force to be reckoned with. A bumper sticker from the Clinton White House era told other motorists that the car's owner planned on "voting for Hillary's husband" [Los Angeles Times]. The term "Billary" was coined to describe their union [source: Urban Dictionary].

But in the 2008 presidential primary race, Clinton emerged from her husband's shadow. She cast herself as a veteran of Washington politics, "ready to lead from day one" [source: AP]. Her platform was built on strengthening the middle class, providing universal health care coverage for Americans, ending the Iraq War, reforming immigration and supporting women's rights.

The 2008 presidential primaries provided Clinton a field to display her political talents. Her campaign fundraising set records during the primaries and ultimately generated almost $230 million during the campaign [source: Open Secrets]. And she boasted the support of both her husband and her daughter, both of whom campaigned for her. "She's in the solution business, and she always has been," Bill Clinton told a crowd before the Wisconsin primary in February 2008. "She's the best at it and always has been" [source: WISN].

Find out about Clinton's voting record, her life, how she's viewed by special interest groups and her presidential platform. On the next page, we'll take a closer look at Clinton's life.


Hillary Clinton Biography

Hillary Clinton as the First Lady of Arkansas in 1991, as her husband announces his candidacy for president.
Cynthia Johnson/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

Hillary Diane Rodham was born on Oct. 26, 1947, to Dorothy and Hugh Rodham of Park Ridge, Ill. As a girl, she was a Brownie and a Girl Scout in the Chicago suburb. Her political outlook was shaped by her father, a Republican [source: Hillary Clinton]. Her career in politics began through the law. She attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts, serving as the president of the College Republicans there. Clinton graduated in 1969 with honors and a B.A. in political science [source: Hillary Rodham Clinton].

That same year, she entered Yale Law School and served on the board of editors for the Yale Law Review and Social Action, a quarterly student-run publication. At Yale, Hillary Rodham met Bill Clinton. Following graduation, he returned home to Arkansas to pursue a career in politics; Hillary stayed in Massachusetts to work as an attorney for the Children's Defense Fund [source: CDF]. She also served as one of only two female attorneys to the congressional committee that investigated the possibility of impeaching President Richard Nixon [source: Hillary Clinton].


Eventually she "followed her heart" to Arkansas [source: White House]. In 1975, Rodham and Clinton were wed; in 1980, their first and only child, Chelsea, was born. Bill Clinton was elected Arkansas governor in 1978 and served until 1980, when he lost re-election. He won again two years later, and Hillary Clinton was the first lady of Arkansas again until 1992 [source: White House].

During her time in Arkansas, Clinton continued to work as a lawyer. She was a partner in the Rose law firm, was twice named one of America's 100 most influential attorneys and was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the board of the U.S. Legal Services Corporation, which provides funding for indigent legal services [source: Hillary Clinton].

In 1992 and 1996, Bill Clinton made successful bids for the presidency. In the White House, "Hillary Clinton quickly established herself as the most powerful and controversial first lady in history," writes Linda Feldmann in the Christian Science Monitor [source: CSM]. She doggedly pursued a campaign to provide universal health coverage for all Americans, serving as ambassador for the proposal, visiting lawmakers in an attempt to get members of the House and Senate on board. Despite her best efforts, writes the Associated Press' Beth Fouhy, the plan proved to be "an audacious effort that collapsed under its own complexity, Republican opposition and the Clintons' unwillingness to seek compromise with lawmakers" [source: ­AP].

While in residence at the White House, the Clintons weathered a succession of scandals together, the most famous being the Monica Lewinsky affair. When reports came out that her husband had received oral sex from the White House intern, Mrs. Clinton called the allegations untrue, suggesting on NBC's "Today Show" that they were an invention of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" that sought to remove Clinton as president [source: Washington Post].

President Clinton eventually admitted to the affair when he was questioned by a grand jury. Mrs. Clinton later wrote in her 2003 memoir, "I was dumbfounded, heartbroken and enraged that I'd believed him at all." As years passed, however, she chose to forgive her husband. "Over time we both began to relax" [source: New York Times].

Clinton is the author of "Living History" (2003), "It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us" (1996), "An Invitation to the White House: At Home With History" (2000) and "Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets" (1998). She won a GRAMMY® Award in 1997 for Best Spoken Word Recording for the audio version of "It Takes a Village" [source: MTV].

Fresh out of the White House, Hillary Clinton became a senator for New York. Read about her political career on the next page.


Political Career of Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton announces her campaign to become senator for New York in February 2000.
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After spending eight years in Washington, Hillary and Bill Clinton moved to Chappaqua, N.Y., in early 2000. The move came toward the end of a seven-month long "listening tour" Hillary conducted around New York state. Although it was largely seen as the beginning of a bid for public office, Clinton refused to confirm this. On Feb. 6, 2000, she announced she would run for the Senate seat left open by retiring Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. CNN said the announcement ended the "one of the worst-kept secrets in national politics" [source: CNN]. Clinton won her bid and on Nov. 7, 2000, became the first former first lady to be elected to office [source: Clinton.Senate].

Her quest for the Senate was met with some skepticism, but Clinton was able to win over voters. "After she became a senator, Republicans who might as well have greeted her with crucifixes and garlic and silver bullets learned they could work with her and, grudgingly, learned to respect her," writes pundit Tony Sachs [source: The Huffington Post].


Her constituency apparently did as well. In the 2000 election, New York City's firefighters supported Clinton's Republican rival for the Senate seat. Six years later, the firefighters publicly endorsed Clinton before any Republican threw his or her hat in the ring [source: New York Times].

Clinton won re-election in 2006, garnering more than 67 percent of the popular vote in her state [source: New York Times]. As of November 2007, she enjoyed a 60 percent job approval rating [source: Survey USA]. On Feb. 14, 2008, the Washington Post reported that Clinton was among the top 10 senators for securing federal funds for her home state, generating more than $342 million in earmarks for New York [source: Taxpayers for Common Sense].

In the Senate, Clinton became a staunch opponent of the Iraq War. She voted in 2002 in favor of the initial invasion; later she explained, "Knowing what I know now, I would never have voted for it," [source: Salon]. She later cast votes against the war, including against a troop surge and in favor of calls to withdraw troops.

She has championed a wide variety of causes in the Senate. Clinton has worked to expand access to family planning and contraceptives and support unwanted pregnancy prevention through education [source: New York Times]. When news leaked that a popular video game contained sex scenes, Clinton co-sponsored the Family Entertainment Protection Act, which called for stricter rating guidelines and better enforcement of existing guidelines [source: U.S. Senate]. In March 2007, Clinton introduced the Count Every Vote Act in the Senate, which would require voter verified paper copies of electronic votes be used as the standard in a recount and tighten guidelines on electronic voting machine security [source: Clinton.Senate].

During her time in Congress, Clinton has served on several committees. She's been a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee; the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; the Senate Committee on Health, Labor, and Pensions; and the Senate Special Committee on Aging [source: Clinton.Senate].

She introduced 377 bills between Jan. 22, 2001, and Aug. 11, 2008. Of these, 323 died in committee, earning her a rating of "extremely poor" relative to her peers. Ten of these bills were enacted into law ("very good"), and she has also co-sponsored 1,858 bills ("average") [source: GovTrack].

In the Senate, Clinton has voted along Democrat Party lines 97.2 percent of the time. She missed 206 votes (32.3 percent) cast in the 110th Congress [source: Washington Post].

Find out about what some special interest groups think about her votes in Congress on the next page.


Voting Scorecards of Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton leaves the Senate after voting on confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court in January 2006.
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The American Civil Liberties Union gave Clinton a score of 67 percent for her votes in the 110th Congress. She voted against ACLU's opinion on two of seven key votes and missed another. For the 109th Congress, Clinton received an 83 percent grade on issues such as judicial review of torture, the confirmation of Justice Samuel Alito and renewal of the Patriot Act. In the 108th, she received a 78 percent. She received a 60 percent for her votes in the 107th Congress.

The American Conservative Union gave Clinton a lifetime score of 9 percent in Congress. She received an 8 percent in 2006 for immigration reform, same-sex marriage amendment and earmark disclosure. She received a 12 percent for her votes in 2005 and a score of 0 percent in the 108th Congress on issues such as required state seat belt use enforcement, liability for gun manufacturers and a ban on certain assault rifles.


The liberal Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) gave Clinton a score of 95 percent for her votes in the 109th Congress on flag desecration and withdrawal from Iraq. She received another 95 percent from the ADA in 2004 for votes on nuclear waste clean-up and hate crimes expansion. For votes on issues like voting rights for felons and permanent repeal of the estate tax, Clinton received another 95 percent in 2002.

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV), an environmental policy group, gave Clinton an 89 percent for her votes in the 109th Congress, for votes on offshore oil drilling and funding for environmental programs. In the 108th Congress, the LCV gave Clinton a score of 92 percent on 20 votes. For her voting in the 107th Congress on issues like allowing Arctic drilling, Clinton was given an 88 percent.

The fiscally conservative National Taxpayers Union (NTU) gives Clinton an "F" (9 percent), making her a "Big Spender" for her votes in 2005. The NTU includes every vote cast throughout the year that has any impact on government spending, debt, appropriations and other federal finances. In fact, she received all "F"s from the group: 11 percent in 2004, 21 percent in 2003, and 17 percent in 2002.

The conservative family values groups the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family gave Clinton a grade of 0 percent for her votes in the 110th Congress [source: FRC/FotF]. She missed two of the seven key votes and voted against the groups' opinions on the other five. Issues included expanding the definition of hate crimes to include those based on sexual orientation and federal support for embryonic stem cell research.

The gay, lesbian and transgender rights group the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) gives Clinton a score of 89 percent for her votes in the 109th Congress on issues like sexual orientation in hate crimes and extending Medicaid coverage to include HIV treatment. In the 108th Congress, Clinton received a score of 88 percent, and in the 107th Congress, the HRC gave Clinton a 100 percent score for votes on the confirmation of Attorney General John Ashcroft and enforcement of the Boy Scouts to reinstate gay leaders.

The pro-life group the National Right to Life Committee gave Clinton a score of 0 percent for her votes in the 110th Congress on issues like health care coverage for unborn children and embryonic stem cell research funding. She received another 0 percent grade for the 109th Congress. From the pro-choice group NARAL, Clinton received a 100 percent grade for her votes in the 109th Congress on issues like continued legality of RU-486 emergency contraceptive and the Freedom of Choice Act.

Read about how Clinton voted on a wide variety of key issues on the following pages.



Voting Record of Hillary Clinton: National Security and the Economy

Senator Clinton, shown in December 2006 in Washington, has voted largely in opposition to the Iraq War.
Mike Theiler/AFP/Getty Images

Beyond rhetoric, spin and messages, perhaps the truest means of establishing what a candidate values is his or her voting record. Here are some select important issues that came up for a vote during Sen. Clinton's tenure in Congress.

The Iraq War/Military/National Security:


  • Clinton voted against H.R. 2206 in 2007, a $120 billion funding bill mostly for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that did not include a provision for troop withdrawal from Iraq [source: Washington Post]. ­
  • She did not vote on Senate Amendment (S. Amdt.) 3875 in 2007, which called for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton did not vote on a successful motion to kill a bill (S. Amdt. 3313) in 2007 to provide $75 million for local and state law enforcement agencies [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She voted in favor of S. Amdt. 3164 in 2007, which called for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted against the successful Protect America Act of 2007, which allowed electronic surveillance between people outside the U.S.without a court order [source: Washington Post].
  • She voted for a failed amendment (S. Amdt. 2087) in 2007, a bill that called for the reduction and transition of troops in Iraq [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted against S. 3930, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which, among other things, provided immunity for CIA officials who may have been involved in acts of torture since Sept. 11, 2001 [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted against an increase in funding of $360.8 million for purchase of armored tactical vehicles deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan (S. Amdt. 1933) in 2005 [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She voted in favor of S. Amdt. 1689 in 2003, which provided $87 billion in emergency funds for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq [source: U.S. Senate].
  • In 2002, Clinton voted in favor of the Homeland Security Act (H.R. 5005) [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted in favor of H.J. Res. 114 in 2002, which authorized the president to use force in Iraq [source: U.S. Senate].

Economy/Government Finance:

  • She voted against waiving an amendment (S. Amdt. 2353) in 2007 that would have repealed the alternative minimum tax [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted against a move to repeal the death tax (S. Amdt. 578) in 2007 [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She voted in favor of S. 1 in 2007, which called for greater transparency in government [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted in favor of H.R. 2 in 2007, which increased the federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 [source: Washington Post].
  • She voted against H.R. 4297 in 2006, which extended the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted in favor of the unsuccessful S. Amdt. 4641 in 2006, which called for rolling back tax breaks for Americans with incomes more than $1 million [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted against the successful Central American Free Trade Agreement (H.R. 3045) of 2005 [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She voted against a provision of S. Amdt. 1932 in 2005, which cut $40 billion in federal expenditures in part by reducing funding for welfare, student loans and child support [source: Washington Post].

Read about Clinton's votes on immigration and health care on the next page.


Voting Record of Hillary Clinton: Immigration and Health Care

Hillary Clinton delivers a speech on legislation designed to protect immigrants from high fees on international money transfers in May 2004.
Mario Tama/Getty Images


  • Clinton voted in favor of Senate Amendment (S. Amdt.) 2797 in 2007, which prohibits the creation of any program that allows trucks from Mexico being operated beyond commercial zones near the border in the U.S. [source: U.S. Senate].
  • In 2007, Clinton voted against a measure (S. Amdt. 1197) that would have required health care be provided for nonresidents in the United States who hold Z visas [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted to kill a measure that would have given $300 million to states to carry out a national ID program [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She voted against English being adopted as the official language of the United States government (S. Amdt. 1151) in 2007 [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted against a failed amendment (S. Amdt. 1267) in 2007 that would have required Y-1 visa holders to leave the United States before being able to renew their visa [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She voted in favor of H.R. 6061, the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which approved $1.2 billion for a 700-mile-long fence along the U.S./Mexico border [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton did not vote on S. Amdt. 3313 (2007), which would have provided $75 million to state and local law enforcement for fighting illegal immigration [source: U.S. Senate].

Health care:

  • Clinton did not vote on a bill (S. Amdt. 3673) in 2007 to expand access to health care for rural areas by reducing liability for obstetricians and gynecologists [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She did not vote on the passage of H.R. 3963 in 2007, which increased funding for State Children's Healthcare Insurance Program (SCHIP) [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She did vote in favor of H.R. 976 in 2007, which would have increased funding for SCHIP by $60 billion [source: Washington Post].
  • Clinton did not vote on S. Amdt. 3437 in 2007, a successful amendment to prohibit federal funds from being used to modify the HIV/AIDS funding formulas [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She voted against S. Amdt. 2620 in 2007, which called for increasing access to health care to low-income children based on need by adjusting for cost of living [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted against an unsuccessful amendment (S. Amdt. 1197) in 2007 that would have required health care coverage for holders of Z nonimmigrant visas [source: U.S. Senate].
  • In 2002, Clinton voted in favor of killing S. Amdt. 4326, which would have limited the amount of money patients could be awarded in malpractice suits [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She voted in favor of S. 812 in 2002, which amended the Food and Drug Act to provide greater access to affordable prescription drugs [source: U.S. Senate].

Some of Clinton's ke­y votes on issues of ethics and morality and veterans' affairs are on the next page.­


Voting Record of Hillary Clinton: Ethics, Morality and Veterans

Sen. Clinton, shown at a signing for her book, "It Takes a Village," in December 2006.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Ethics and Morality Issues:

  • Clinton didn't vote on an unsuccessful call, Senate Amendment (S. Amdt.) 3330, in 2007 to prohibit federal funds from going to grantees that perform abortions [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She voted against an unsuccessful amendment (S. Amdt. 2535) in 2007 to redefine the federal definition of "child" to begin with conception rather than birth [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted against the successful S. 403 in 2006, which prohibits taking minors across state lines to circumvent laws that require parental notification of abortions [source: U.S. Senate].
  • In 2006, Clinton voted in favor of H.R. 810, which allows for funding of embryonic stem cell research [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted against a motion to bring the Marriage Protection Amendment (S.J. Res. 1) in 2006 to an immediate vote; this act called for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and woman only [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She voted against the unsuccessful S.J. Res. 12 in 2006, which called for a Constitutional amendment outlawing desecration of the flag [source: U.S. Senate].
  • In 2005, Clinton voted in favor of the successful S. Con. Res. 18, the Unintended Pregnancy Act, which provided greater access to family planning services and contraception [source: Project Vote Smart].



  • Clinton voted yes on S. Amdt. 2019 in 2007, which called for providing care and management of "wounded warriors" [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She voted against killing an unsuccessful 2006 amendment (S. Amdt. 4781) that called for $2 million in additional funding for Army imaging equipment for use in diagnosing brain injuries [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted against S. Amdt. 3704 in 2006, an unsuccessful attempt to provide an additional $20 million in funding to Veterans Affairs medical facilities [source: U.S. Senate].
  • In 2006, Clinton voted in favor of a failed amendment (S. Amdt. 3141) that called for assuring a steady stream of future funding for veterans' health care by repealing the Bush tax cuts [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted in favor of waiving S. Amdt. 3409 in 2004, which provided for increased funding for veterans' health care adjusted each fiscal year for inflation and increases in veteran population [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted against the successful S. Amdt. 1823 in 2003, which provided emergency funds, in part, for veterans' health care [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She voted in favor of a failed 2003 amendment (S. Amdt. 385) that would have provided an additional $1 billion in funding to the Veterans Affairs Administration in 2004 [source: U.S. Senate].

Read about Clinton's votes on environmental issues and matters of law and governance on the next page.


Voting Record of Hillary Clinton: Environment and Legal

Sen. Clinton delivers an address at a conference on environmental protection in Washington, D.C. in January 2003.
Alex Wong/Getty Images


  • Clinton voted on House Resolution (H.R.) 6, the Energy Act of 2007, which called for tighter restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, better fuel efficiency standards and investment in alternative energy [source: Project Vote Smart].
  • She voted in favor of failed Senate Amendment (S. Amdt.) 1614 in 2007, which called for a loan program for projects that produce gas from coal while reducing greenhouse gas emissions [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton did not vote on 2007's S. Amdt. 3553, which limited tax credits provided to wind energy producers and users [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She voted in favor of S. Amdt. 3039 in 2006, a failed amendment that called for increased funding and research biofuels [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted against H.R. 6 in 2005, which provides for greater independence from foreign oil by expanding renewable energy and alternative fuels [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted against an amendment (S. Amdt. 902) in 2005, which called for regulations improving fuel efficiency in automobiles [source: U.S. Senate].
  • In 2005, Clinton voted in favor of the successful S. Amdt. 2362, which prohibits oil taken from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from being exported [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted in favor of S. Amdt. 2703 in 2004, a failed bill that called for more responsibility in cleanup of toxic waste by companies that produce it [source: U.S. Senate].



  • Clinton did not vote on S. Amdt. 3640 in 2007, which would have prohibited governments from involuntarily acquiring farm or grazing land for public purposes [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She voted in favor of calling to an immediate vote a 2007 amendment (S. Amdt. 2022) that would have restored habeas corpus to foreign detainees [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted in favor of S.1, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, which closed many loopholes lobbyists used to influence lawmakers [source: U.S. Senate].
  • She voted against waiving S. Amdt. 2350 in 2007, which requires voters to present a photo ID before voting [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted against failed S. Amdt. 4897 in 2006, which called for an additional $700 million in funding for counterdrug operations in Afghanistan[source: U.S. Senate].
  • She voted against S. Amdt. 4615 in 2006, which prohibits firearms from being confiscated during emergencies or disasters [source: U.S. Senate].
  • Clinton voted against the confirmations of both John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court in 2005 and 2006 [source: Washington Post].

As the 2008 primary season evolved, Clinton's platform for her presidential bid solidified. Read about Hillary Clinton's presidential agenda on the following page.


Presidential Agenda of Hillary Clinton

Clinton has shaped her 2008 campaign message to include her experience, saying she would be "ready to lead from day one." This voter in New Hampshire in December 2006 appears to agree.
Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

When she appeared on "Late Night with David Letterman" on Aug. 30, 2007, Clinton facetiously delivered her Top 10 Campaign Promises. Under provisions laid out in No. 8, if Clinton is elected president, Americans will "have the option of rolling the dice against the IRS for double or nothing on your taxes" [source: CBS News].

Her actual economic platform was centered largely on strengthening the middle class. This plan included interrelated parts like helping more American students pay for college, expanding broadband service to rural areas and rewarding tech investors. She also supported extending middle class tax cuts and strengthening unions [source: Hillary Clinton]. Clinton also pledged to work toward increasing the minimum wage to $9.50 [source: Newspaper Tree].


For the centerpiece of her environmental platform, Clinton chose the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act of 2007. This proposed bill called for the reduction of U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases to 80 percent less than 1990 levels by 2050. The bill "was the most forward leaning in terms of what needs to be done to deal with the threat of global warming," Clinton said in an interview with Amanda Griscom Little. Clinton also told Little she intended to strip oil companies of their tax breaks [source: Salon].

As first lady, Clinton was focused on health care. This focus didn't appear to have shifted during the campaign. Her American Health Choices Plan, described on her official site, called for guaranteeing health care coverage for all Americans. Those already insured could opt to keep their current plan, take part in the same private coverage offered to Congress, or take advantage of public coverage similar to Medicare. Clinton proposed granting tax credits for families to purchase coverage, rewarding businesses who provide coverage and rolling back the Bush tax breaks for wealthy Americans.

Clinton's platform also included a national pre-kindergarten program with federal funding going to states to help establish programs or support already established ones. Further expansion included hiring more teachers, raising salaries, increasing Pell grants and creating tax credits as high as $3,500 for parents of students in higher education. College would be made even more appealing with her plan to implement a monetary reward system for college graduates who give a year of public service following graduation. She has also said her administration would invest $1 billion in programs that will reduce the number of minority dropouts by half [source: Boston Herald].

On Iraq, Clinton has proposed a troop drawdown within 60 days of her inauguration as president [source: New York Times]. It's necessary, she said, to leave some troops behind for counterterrorism, to thwart Iran from moving into Iraq, and protect ethnic Kurds. If the withdrawal of troops plunged the country into sectarian violence, Clinton said she would not allow U.S. forces to intervene [source: New York Times].

Clinton favored immigration reform, opting for both secure borders and humane treatment of illegal aliens already living in the United States. "Of course we're going to have secure borders," she said in El Paso, Texas, in February 2008, but also addressed her view that there's a need to "bring people out of the shadows" [source: ABC News]. The balance will be struck, Clinton envisioned, by providing illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship along with new laws governing enforcement against future illegal immigrants, beefing up border patrol and the technology they use [source: Clinton.Senate].

The 2008 campaign became the most expensive one in history. Throughout, Clinton was able to raise as much money as needed, breaking some records for campaign fundraising. Read about her fundraising capabilities on the next page.


Fundraising of Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton at a fundraiser for her 2008 campaign called "Holidays with Hillary" in December 2007. The event raised over $1 million in one night.
Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Toward the beginning of 2007, Clinton turned to some heavy-hitting fundraisers to help fill her campaign coffers. She held a dinner on Feb. 6 for about 70 studio investors, lawyers, venture capitalists and other members of the high-finance world. Each guest agreed to raise $250,000 and some as much as $1 million. The guests also agreed to drum up $50,000 each by the end of February to help bulk up Clinton's campaign fund [source: Washington Post].

Her tactic worked. By the following April, her campaign broke the record for the most raised by a presidential campaign during that particular quarter. She was able to generate $26 million in just three months, which was almost three times as much as the previous record of $8.9 million, set by Vice President Al Gore in 1999 [source: Washington Post].


September 2007 was a rough month for Clinton's fundraising strategy. That month, the senator faced criticism for holding a fundraiser in Washington, where she was accused of using her position as a senator to bring other lawmakers to a luncheon hosted by a lobbying law firm. Tickets were $1,000 or $2,300 and gave lobbyists access to legislators [source: AP].

Also that month, Clinton returned at least $850,000 in campaign contributions to 260 donors. The money had been bundled by Clinton fundraiser Norman Hsu, who was arrested in September 2007 for evading authorities after being convicted on investment fraud charges. Hsu had defrauded investors of over $1 million, was found guilty in 1992, and a warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to show up for sentencing. Clinton's campaign told media that they had done a background check on Hsu (standard procedure) before accepting his money, but hadn't found any mention of the outstanding warrant [source: NPR].

Clinton's husband, former president Bill Clinton, pitched in to help his wife's fundraising efforts. He served as a high-profile surrogate at several events throughout 2007. At one dinner for 100 guests in New York in March 2007, Bill Clinton managed to generate $500,000. E-mails sent out by the campaign from President Clinton created $1 million in small donations [source: AP]. At another fundraiser that month, both Clintons appeared for the two-hour event, and raised more than $1 million from tickets that went for at least $1,000 [ABC News].

Clinton spent most of 2007 garnering donations from donors who gave the maximum $2,300 allowed by law and who fundraised for the senator. She largely avoided efforts to obtain small donations from individuals [source: National Review]. Her large-money contribution strategy worked for her campaign; in 2007, Clinton raised $115.7 million (her goal for the year was $75 million). By the end of May 2008, Clinton had raised $229.4 million for the entire campaign [source: Open Secrets].

Of the money she raised in 2007, where the gender of the donor could be determined, 50.2 percent of donors were men and 49.8 percent women [source: Open Secrets]. She found the most support from organizations representing retired Americans and workers in the legal, investment and real estate industries (more than $43 million combined), and the least from donors in the defense and labor industries ($400,000 and $282,000, respectively) [source: Open Secrets]. Twenty-two percent of her campaign contributions in the 2008 race came from the state of New York ($30.64 million); California provided the second most with $25.36 million (18 percent) [source: Open Secrets].

During 2008, Clinton's fundraising strategy of focusing on big donors stalled. "Most of our donors are maxed out," a Clinton fundraiser told Bloomberg News in February. The strategy shifted focus to a "broadening of the base" [source: Bloomberg]. Late in January, Clinton contributed a $5 million loan of her own money to her campaign [source: Wall Street Journal]. Her apparent willingness to show support for herself paid off, as in the five days following Super Tuesday 2008, Clinton generated $10 million in online donations from more than 100,000 donors. Her goal for the five days had been to raise $3 million [source: Hillary Clinton].

The following May, however, Clinton's finances were in need of another boost. She loaned her campaign an additional $6.4 million [source: Washington Post]. Just one month later, she withdrew from the race after her opponent, Barack Obama, snagged the requisite delegate votes to clinch the nomination. Clinton's campaign was left $25 million in debt, more than $11 million of that her own money [source: New York Times]. She found some help from her former rival: Obama appeared at fundraisers for Clinton and asked his supporters to donate to her post-withdrawal campaign to alleviate the debt [source: CNN].

It's difficult to blame Clinton for her willingness to contribute millions of her own dollars to her campaign. Despite a sag in the polls in the early spring of 2008, she was making as strong a showing in the primaries as she had any other time in the race. On the next page, read about Clinton's last stand and her role in the 2008 presidential race after her withdrawal.


The Clinton Campaign

Sen. Hillary Clinton leaves the stage in Washington on June 7, 2008. Clinton had just suspended her campaign, thanked her supporters and endorsed Sen. Obama.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Like her fellow candidates, Clinton endured her fair share of controversy during the 2008 primary race. The Clinton and Obama campaigns were locked in a battle over experience in March 2008. Clinton's campaign suggested Obama had little to none, as he'd been a senator for less than four years when he threw his hat in the ring for the presidency. Obama's campaign countered with insinuations Clinton's experience in foreign affairs amounted to no more than the usual first lady responsibilities of good will tours; that she held the traditional role of supportive, but excluded, figurehead during her husband's tenure as president.

Clinton responded by citing a 1996 visit to Bosnia as first lady, where a reception ceremony on the tarmac was cancelled due to snipers in the area. Clinton recounted she and her daughter "ran with our heads down" across the tarmac to safety. The claim was quickly (and very publicly countered) after CBS footage of the trip surfaced. The footage clearly contradicted Clinton's story, showing her and her daughter receiving a warm and calm reception on the tarmac [source: CNN]. Even worse, she was shown surrounded by small children, hardly a sign that the Air Force base she flew into was under the threat of attack by snipers.

Clinton survived the PR nightmare that followed, and actually began to gain in the polls. The Democratic primary race had been narrowed down to her and Obama after Sen. John Edwards dropped out on Jan. 30 [source: Daily Mail]. As Super Tuesday arrived on February 5, two major polls showed Clinton and Obama tied (41 percent), or Clinton with a lead over her rival (49 to 46 percent) [source: The Guardian]. With more than 1,600 of the 2,118 delegates needed to clinch the nomination up for grabs on one day, Super Tuesday could have done what it was designed to do: produce a clear front-runner. Instead, the two Democratic candidates virtually split the delegates on Super Tuesday.

The race continued, with Clinton and Obama generally neck-to-neck. By the end of March, the race remained so close that as an April Fool's Day joke Clinton challenged Obama to a winner-take-all bowling match for the nomination [source: AP]. As is almost never seen, the votes in the states at the end of the primary calendar became vitally important. Ultimately, Obama was the first to clinch enough delegate votes, from the last two primaries, held in Montana and South Dakota. Clinton, however, won more delegates in six of the last 10 primaries held and split one state evenly with Obama [source: Real Clear Politics]. This was enough for the Clinton camp to revisit an issue that remained contentious throughout the primaries: the votes of Michigan and Florida.

The two states had their delegates stripped after violating party rules by scheduling their primaries ahead of the earliest approved date. Clinton was the only Democratic contender listed on the ballots in the states, and as such, if the delegates were given back convention voting rights, it was possible the two states could push her over the top to clinch the nomination. As Obama rolled on, however, Clinton dropped the issue and withdrew from the race on June 7.

After she withdrew from the Democratic race, Clinton threw her full support behind her former rival. On June 28, she and Obama spoke together publicly in Unity, N.H. An almost celestial coincidence had transpired in the aptly-named town the previous February, with the two candidates evenly splitting 214 votes during a primary vote. The Democrats' campaigns chose the town as the setting for Clinton to unify her support behind Obama. She urged the citizens of Unity and all who'd voted for her in the primaries to cast their ballots for Obama in November: "We are one party; we are one America," she proclaimed [source: Hillary Clinton].

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