Bill Clinton Essay, Research Paper
William Jefferson Blythe IV was born on Aug. 19, 1946, in Hope, Arkansas. His father, who was an automobile-parts salesman, died in an automobile accident three months before Bill was born. When Bill was 2 years old his mother, Virginia Cassidy, went to nursing school in New Orleans, La. She sent Bill to live with his grandparents, Eldridge and Edith Cassidy, who owned and operated a grocery store.
His mother returned when Bill was 4, and three years later she married Roger Clinton, an automobile dealer, who moved the family to Hot Springs, Ark. There Bill and his younger half brother, Roger, Jr., attended public schools. The family attended a Baptist church. His mother often engaged Bill in political discussions and encouraged his ambitions.
Growing up had its difficulties, however, because his stepfather was an alcoholic who beat his mother. Virginia and Roger divorced but soon remarried, when Bill was 15. As an act to help hold the family together, Bill had his last name legally changed to Clinton.
In the fall of 1970 Clinton entered Yale Law School. While at Yale he met Hillary Rodham, a graduate from Wellesley College who grew up in suburban Chicago. Together they worked for George McGovern’s presidential campaign during the summer and fall of 1972. The following year they graduated from law school. Clinton returned to Arkansas to teach at the University of Arkansas School of Law, and Rodham went briefly to Washington, where she worked for the House staff during the impeachment of President Richard Nixon. They were married in 1975.
In 1974, Clinton made his first run for political office, against John Paul Hammerschmidt, a Republican congressman from Fayetteville, Ark. Clinton believed that the congressman, a strong supporter of embattled President Nixon, was vulnerable in his reelection bid. Clinton lost a surprisingly close race, holding Hammerschmidt to only 52 percent of the vote. The close race brought Clinton statewide attention, and two years later he was elected attorney general of Arkansas.
At the time he was elected, Arkansas’s school system was ranked 49th in quality nationwide. Clinton made economic growth and educational improvement top priorities of his administration. He also removed the sales tax from medicine for senior citizens
Clinton’s crusade to improve education continued with the creation of more programs, including the nation’s first program to test teacher competency. In addition, parents who did not attend parent-teacher conferences were fined 50 dollars for each missed conference. Students who dropped out of school risked having their driver’s licenses suspended. One measurable result of his efforts was that, from 1982 to 1992, the percentage of Arkansas high schoolers who went on to college increased from 39 to 52 percent. In 1986 he served as chairman of the Education Commission of the States.
On Oct. 3, 1991, Clinton announced that he was a candidate for the presidency. His campaign had been strongly opposed by charges of marital infidelity, published in tabloid newspapers, and of unethical, illegal conduct of avoiding the draft during the Vietnam War. Clinton, however, slowly gained support through the New York primary. Finally, on June 2, primary victories in six states gave him the necessary number of delegates. Clinton chose Tennessee Senator Albert A. Gore, Jr., as his vice-presidential running mate.
The Democratic National Convention was held in New York City in mid-July. The withdrawal from the race of Texan H. Ross Perot immediately improved Clinton’s standing. As soon as the convention was over Clinton and Gore left New York City and headed west for a series of campaign bus trips. The strategy of identifying with middle-class America and emphasizing concern for jobs and health care paid off. Although Perot reentered the race in October, he had little effect on Clinton. On November 3 Clinton was elected president.