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Bill ClintonEx-president Bill Clinton has held the media spotlight quite often in the past several years for the opening of his presidential library in Little Rock, Arkansas, as well as for joining another ex-president, George Bush, Sr., on trips to help raise funds for Asian tsunami victims and victims of Hurricane Katrina.

He has also hit the campaign trail in recent months urging for the Democratic nomination of his wife, Hillary Clinton, the first woman ever to run for the U.S. presidency.


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Born William Jefferson Blythe IV in Hope, Arkansas, on August 19, 1946, the former U.S. president was named for his father, who was killed in an automobile accident before Clinton's birth. His mother, Virginia Kelley, later married Roger Clinton, whose surname the future president later adopted.

Growing up in in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Clinton dreamed of becoming a doctor, but switched his attention to politics after a meeting at the White House with President John F. Kennedy on a Boys' Nation trip. His college years - marked by active campaigning for Arkansas senator J. William Fulbright - were spent at Georgetown University where he received a BS in international affairs in 1968. A Rhodes scholar at Oxford between 1968-1970, Clinton later attended Yale Law School where he met his future wife, Hillary Clinton who later gave birth to a daughter, Chelsea.

After a short teaching stint at the University of Arkansas, Clinton ran for and won the office of state attorney general in 1976 and in 1979 he went on to win the Arkansas gubernatorial race - becoming the nation's youngest governor. Defeated for reelection in 1980, two years later his successful rebid for the governor's office taught the young politician the benefit of appealing to both liberal and conservative voters within the state. It was an education that would stand Clinton in good stead for his national bid for the presidency in 1992 and in 1996.

Clinton's first term was marked by battles with a Republican-controlled Congress over economic policy, and a much publicized compromise with the miliary over his campaign pledge to allow homosexuals to serve in the armed forces (resulting in a compromise "don't ask, don't tell" policy). Most notably, a failed bid to introduce a universal healthcare policy - in a reform package crafted by his wife Hillary - ultimately failed to gain congressional support.

Major Clinton victories during this time, however, included the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which would eventually lead to the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The administration also fought for and won congressional approval for abortion counseling in federally funded clinics, as well as a waiting period for handgun purchases with the passage of the Brady Bill.

Bill Clinton Playing Saxophone
Bill Clinton plays the saxophone
presented to him by Russian
President Boris Yeltsin in 1994.

In foreign affairs, Clinton proved to be a deft diplomat when he presided over an Israel-Jordan peace agreement signed at the White House in 1994. He also later succeeded in restoring to power Haiti's ousted president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and helped Russian president Boris Yeltsin's flagging popularity with promises of economic aid.

Aided by a booming economy, in 1996 Clinton won reelection to a second term - the first Democratic president to do so since Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, a number of scandals plagued his second term when independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who investigated the Clinton's involvment in the Whitewater land deal, also began investigations into the death of White House lawyer Vincent Foster, along with headline-making accusations of sexual misconduct by Paula Jones, and the Monica Lewinsky scandal which almost ended his presidency.

Despite his personal failings, Clinton continued to enjoy widespread popularity for his sound economic policies and expert skill in foreign affairs. Clinton ended his presidency by reversing the national deficit of $357 billion with an historic surplus of $39 billion.

Clinton underwent quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery September 6, 2004 after experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath. At the time, he joked that his famous predilection for American fast food may have been the cause of his ailment. On a more serious note, the avid jogger also pointed to a family history of heart disease that more likely may have been the cause.

Related Web Sites:

Bill Clinton - Wikipedia

USA: biography of William Jefferson Clinton (1946-)

The White House - Biography of William J. Clinton

Famous Quotes:

• There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.

• [George Bush, Sr.] has raised taxes on the people driving pickup trucks and lowered taxes on the people riding in limousines. We can do better.

• When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn't like it and didn't inhale and never tried it again.

• "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is"
- excerpt from his grand jury testimony.

• I did not have sex with that woman.
- referring to Monica Lewinsky

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