Hillary Clinton (born October 26, 1947) is the junior United States Senator from New York and a member of the Democratic Party. She is married to Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, and was the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001.
Barack Obama (born August 4, 1961) is the junior United States Senator from Illinois and a member of the Democratic Party. The U.S. Senate Historical Office lists him as the fifth African American Senator in U.S. history and the only African American currently serving in the U.S. Senate.
Both of them were running for President in the 2008 elections as candidates of the Democratic Party. They were frontrunners in the campaign and Barack Obama eventually clinched the Democratic party's nomination on June 3, 2008.
Birth & Early Life
Hillary Diane Rodham was born at Edgewater Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, and was raised in a Methodist family first in Chicago, and then, from when Hillary was three years of age, in suburban Park Ridge, Illinois. Her father, Hugh Ellsworth Rodham, was a son of Welsh and English immigrants and operated a small but successful business in the textile industry. Her mother, Dorothy Emma Howell Rodham, of English, Scottish, French Canadian, Welsh, and possibly Native American descent, was a homemaker. She has two younger brothers, Hugh and Tony.
As a child, Hillary Rodham was involved in many activities at church and at her public school in Park Ridge. She attended Maine East High School, where she had participated in student council, the debating team and the National Honor Society. For her senior year she was redistricted to Maine South High School, where she was a National Merit Finalist. Raised in a politically conservative family, she volunteered for Republican candidate Barry Goldwater in the United States presidential election of 1964. Her parents encouraged her to pursue the career of her choice.
Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to a black father (Barack Obama, Sr., who was born in Nyanza Province, Kenya) and a white mother (Ann Dunham, who was born in Wichita, Kansas). His parents met while both were attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where his father was enrolled as a foreign student. Obama's parents separated when he was two years old and later divorced. His father went to Harvard University to pursue Ph.D. studies, then returned to Kenya, where he died in an auto accident when the younger Obama was twenty-one years old. His mother married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian foreign student, with whom she had one daughter, Maya. The family moved to Jakarta in 1967, where Obama attended local schools from ages 6 to 10. He then returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents while attending Punahou School from 5th grade until his graduation in 1979. While in school, he was known as "Barry Obama". He has also been known as "Barack H. Obama, Jr." Obama has admitted smoking pot during his teens when he was dealing with identity issues.
Marriage & Early Career
During her post-graduate study, Rodham served as staff attorney for the Children's Defense Fund in Cambridge, Massachusetts and as a consultant to the Carnegie Council on Children. During 1974 she was a member of the impeachment inquiry staff in Washington, D.C., advising the House Committee on the Judiciary during the Watergate scandal, which culminated in the resignation of President Richard Nixon in August 1974. Bill Clinton was at the time teaching law and running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in his home state. In August 1974, she moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas and became one of two female faculty members at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville School of Law, where Bill Clinton also taught. In the summer of 1975, the couple bought a house in Fayetteville, and on October 11, 1975, Hillary Rodham and Bill Clinton were married in a Methodist ceremony in their living room. She kept her name as Hillary Rodham.
When in November 1976 was elected Attorney General of Arkansas, the couple moved to the state capital of Little Rock. Rodham joined the Rose Law Firm in late 1976, specializing in intellectual property while working pro bono in child advocacy. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter (for whom Rodham had done 1976 campaign coordination work in Indiana) appointed her to the board of the Legal Services Corporation. In January 1979, following the November 1978 election of her husband as Governor of Arkansas, Rodham became First Lady of Arkansas, her title for a total of 12 years (1979-1981, 1983-1992). In 1979, she became the first woman to be made a full partner of Rose Law Firm. During 1978 and 1979, while looking to supplement their income, Rodham made a spectacular profit from trading cattle futures contracts. The couple also began their ill-fated investment in the Whitewater Development Corporation real estate venture with Jim and Susan McDougal at this time. On February 27, 1980, Rodham gave birth to a daughter, Chelsea, her only child.
During her husband's campaign in 1982, Rodham began to use the name Hillary Clinton, or even sometimes "Mrs. Bill Clinton", in order to have greater appeal to Arkansas voters. As First Lady of Arkansas, Hillary Clinton chaired the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee from 1982 to 1992, where she successfully sought to improve testing standards of new teachers. She also chaired the Rural Health Advisory Committee starting in 1979 and introduced the Arkansas' Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youth, a program that helps parents work with their children in preschool preparedness and literacy. She was named Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1983 and Arkansas Mother of the Year in 1984. Clinton continued to practice law with the Rose Law Firm while she was First Lady of Arkansas. She was twice named by the National Law Journal as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America, in 1988 and in 1991. Clinton had co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families in 1977, and served on the boards of the Arkansas Children's Hospital Legal Services (1988-1992) and the Children's Defense Fund (as chair, 1986-1992). In addition to her positions with non-profit organizations, she also held positions on the corporate board of directors of TCBY (1985-1992), Wal-Mart Stores (1986-1992) and Lafarge (1990-1992).
When Bill Clinton took office as president in January 1993, Hillary Rodham Clinton became the First Lady of the United States, and announced that she would be using that form of her name. She was the first First Lady to hold a post-graduate degree and to have her own professional career. She was also the first First Lady to take up an office in the West Wing of the White House, First Ladies usually staying in the East Wing. In 1998, the Clintons' relationship became the subject of much speculation and gossip as a result of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Both Clintons' memoirs later stated that the revelation of the affair was a very painful time in their marriage. There were a mix of public reactions to Hillary Clinton: some women admired her strength and poise in private matters made public, some sympathized with her as a victim of her husband's insensitive behavior, others criticized her as being an enabler to her husband's indiscretions by not obtaining a divorce, while still others accused her of cynically staying in a failed marriage as a way of maximizing her own political power. In her 2003 memoir, she would attribute her decision to stay married to love: "No one understands me better and no one can make me laugh the way Bill does. Even after all these years, he is still the most interesting, energizing and fully alive person I have ever met."
Barack Obama received his B.A. degree in 1983, then worked for one year at Business International Corporation. In 1985, Obama moved to Chicago to direct a non-profit project assisting local churches to organize job training programs. He entered Harvard Law School in 1988. In 1990, The New York Times reported his election as the Harvard Law Review's "first black president in its 104-year history." He completed his J.D. degree magna cum laude in 1991. On returning to Chicago, Obama directed a voter registration drive. As an associate attorney with Miner, Barnhill & Galland from 1993 to 1996, he represented community organizers, discrimination claims, and voting rights cases. He was a lecturer of constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1993 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004.
Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996 from the state's 13th District in the south-side Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park. In 2000, he made an unsuccessful Democratic primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives seat held by four-term incumbent candidate Bobby Rush. He was overwhelmingly reelected to the Illinois Senate in 1998 and 2002, officially resigning in November 2004, following his election to the U.S. Senate. Reviewing Obama's career in the Illinois Senate, a February 2007 article in the Washington Post noted his work with both Democrats and Republicans in drafting bipartisan legislation on ethics and health care reform. In a July 2007 article, The New York Times credited Obama with leading the passage of an Illinois state law mandating videotaping of homicide interrogations, and another law that "required the police to collect data on the race of drivers they stopped as a way to monitor racial profiling." The same article also reported that Obama "was a chief sponsor of a law enhancing tax credits for the working poor, played a central role in negotiations over welfare reform and successfully pushed for increasing child care subsidies." During his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, Obama won the endorsement of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police after the police organization initially endorsed Dan Hynes, who lost to Obama in the Democratic primary. The union cited his "longtime support of gun control measures and his willingness to negotiate compromises," despite his support for some bills the police union had opposed. He was also criticized by a rival pro-choice candidate in the Democratic primary and by his Republican pro-life opponent in the general election for having voted either "present" or "no" on anti-abortion legislation.
Obama met his wife Michelle Robinson in 1988 when he was employed as a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin. Assigned for three months as Obama's advisor at the firm, Robinson joined him at group social functions, but declined his initial offers to date. They began dating later that summer, became engaged in 1991, and were married in October 1992. The couple's first daughter, Malia, was born in 1999, followed by a second daughter, Natasha ("Sasha"), in 2001.
Obama wrote and delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, while still serving as a state legislator. The speech was Obama's introduction to most of America. Its enthusiastic reception at the convention and widespread coverage by national media gave him instant celebrity status. In the speech, he spoke about national unity: The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
In 1996, Clinton presented a vision for the children of America in the book It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us. The book was a New York Times Best Seller, and Clinton received the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album in 1997 for the book's audio recording. Other books released by Clinton when she was First Lady include Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets (1998) and An Invitation to the White House: At Home with History (2000).
In 2003, Clinton released a 562-page autobiography, Living History. In anticipation of high sales, publisher Simon & Schuster paid Clinton a record advance of $8 million. The book sold more than one million copies in the first month following publication and was translated into twelve foreign languages. Clinton's audio recording of the book earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Spoken Word Album.
Barack Obama has authored 2 bestselling books. The first, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, was published after his graduation from law school and before running for public office. In it he recalls his childhood in Honolulu and Jakarta, college years in Los Angeles and New York City, and his employment as a community organizer in Chicago in the 1980s. The book's last chapters describe his first visit to Kenya, a journey to connect with his Luo family and heritage. Time magazine's Joe Klein wrote that the book "may be the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician." The audio book edition earned Obama the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album.
Obama's second book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, was published in October 2006, three weeks before the 2006 midterm election. It was an immediate bestseller and rose to the top of the New York Times Best Seller List by early November 2006. Former presidential candidate Gary Hart describes the book as Obama's "thesis submission" for the U.S. presidency: "It presents a man of relative youth yet maturity, a wise observer of the human condition, a figure who possesses perseverance and writing skills that have flashes of grandeur." An Italian translation was published in April 2007 with a preface by Walter Veltroni, Mayor of Rome. Spanish and German editions were published in June 2007.
Barack Obama clinched the Democratic party's nomination for the 2008 Presidential election on June 3, 2008. He led Hillary Clinton in pledged delegates for the 2008 Democratic nomination for the presidential election. According to the New York Times, Obama has 1,645 pledged delegates to Clinton's 1,577. Based on the Times' projections from nonbinding contests and survey of superdelegates, they project 2,116 delegates for Obama and 1,910 for Clinton. The numbers from the Associated Press are 2,144 and 1,919.5 respectively.
Both campaigns were also involved in a vigorous debate on the status of the nomination contests in Michigan and Florida. Neither of them had campaigned in these states and in Michigan. Clinton won 50% of the votes in Florida compared to Obama's 33%. In Michigan, Clinton won 55% of the vote and Obama's name was not even on the ballot. In the end, the decided to split the Michigan delegates 29.5 (Obama) to 34.5 (Clinton) and the Florida delegates 38.5 (Obama) to 52.5 (Clinton).
Announcement and Campaign Staff
Clinton had been mentioned as a potential candidate for United States President since at least October 2002, when an article in The New York Times discussed the possibility. On January 20, 2007, Clinton announced on her Web site the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, with the intention to become a candidate for president in the United States presidential election of 2008. In her announcement, she stated, "I'm in. And I'm in to win." Clinton has assembled a team of advisers and operatives to run her campaign. Patti Solis Doyle is the first female Hispanic to manage a presidential campaign. Deputy campaign manager is Mike Henry and Howard Wolfson serves as the campaign spokesperson. Evelyn S. Lieberman, who worked for Clinton when she was First Lady and served as Deputy White House Chief of Staff, is the chief operating officer of the campaign.
Obama's keynote speech to the 2004 Democratic National Convention sparked expectations that he would run for the presidency. Speculation on a 2008 presidential run intensified after Obama's decisive U.S. Senate election win in November 2004. At that time he told reporters: "I can unequivocally say I will not be running for national office in four years." However, in an October 2006 interview on the television program Meet the Press, Obama appeared to open the possibility of a 2008 presidential bid. On January 14, 2007, the Chicago Tribune reported that Obama had begun assembling his team for a 2008 presidential campaign to be headquartered in Chicago. His team includes Chicago-based political consultant David Plouffe, who is serving as campaign manager, and Plouffe's partner, David Axelrod, who is serving as a media consultant. On January 16, Obama announced via a video on his website that he had formed a presidential exploratory committee. On February 10, he formally announced his candidacy for the presidency.
- In the Gallup Daily Tracking poll May 27 and 28th 2008, Obama led Clinton 52% to 42% with a ±3% margin for error.
- In the Rasmussen Daily Tracking poll May 25-28, 2008, Obama led Clinton 47% to 44% with a ±4% margin for error.
- The Pew Research Group reported that in their May 21-25, 2008 nationwide poll, Obama led Clinton 54% to 41% with a ±4.5% margin for error.
Celebrity endorsements for Hillary Clinton include Michael Douglas, singers Barry Manilow, Madonna, Janet Jackson and Barbra Streisand, businesswoman and TV host Martha Stewart, author John Grisham, writer Erica Jong, actress Lynda Carter, actress Elizabeth Taylor, talk show hosts Rosie O’Donnell and Jerry Springer, PlayBoy publisher Hugh Hefner and film director Steven Spielberg.
Celebrities endorsing Barack Obama include TV show hosts Oprah Winfrey and Stephen Colbert, singer Macy Gray, and film actors George Clooney, Will Smith, Laurence Fishburne, Matt Damon and Halle Berry, basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and investor Warren Buffet.
Positions on Key Issues
While both candidates are liberal Democrats and have similar positions on a lot of topics, a summary of the differences is as follows:
- Direct talks with leaders of "rogue" nations: Barack Obama suggested that he would talk directly to leaders of countries such as Iran and North Korea.
- Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden: Obama stated that as President he would consider military action in Pakistan in order to attack al-Qaeda, even if the Pakistani government did not give approval.
- Barack Obama is openly anti-lobbyist and claims that no money is his campaign comes from special interest groups.
- Barack Obama's plan for health care reform does not include a "mandate" i.e. making it compulsory for everyone (including young, healthy individuals) to purchase health insurance.
- Iraq war: While both candidates are anti-Bush and against the war in Iraq now, Hillary Clinton voted to authorized the war in 2003 whereas Barack Obama had spoken out against the war before it was authorized.
- More recently, Clinton voted yes on a Sept. 2007 Senate resolution calling on the administration to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. Barack Obama chose not to vote.
- The New York Times Election Guide - Issues
- The New York Times Election Guide - Results