8 Important Facts About Hillary Clinton

Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first serious candidate from either party to jump into the 2016 race, has been in the public eye since at least 1978, when she became First Lady of Arkansas. 

Since that's before most millennials — and R29 readers — were born, we figured there might be some gaps in your knowledge about this campaign season's first candidate. And so, here is a handy dandy (though by no means complete) guide to a few highlights — and low-lights — of Hillary Clinton's track record.  

She was once a Republican.
In high school, Clinton was active in a young Republican organizations and volunteered on Republican Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign. Her first year in college at Wellesley, Hillary was elected president of the school’s Young Republicans chapter. But soon after, largely influenced by the events of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, she switched political camps. 
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Her first job after college was in a canning factory in Alaska.
Clinton has almost always worked in public service, which she has attributed to being inspired by seeing Martin Luther King Jr. speak in Chicago when she was in high school. But, her first job after college was processing fish at a canning factory in Alaska. Reportedly, Clinton was fired from the plant, which subsequently closed, after she complained about unhealthy conditions. She went on to work for the Children’s Defense Fund and, after graduating law school, returned there as a staff attorney. 

She was on the board of Walmart.
In 1986, the growing company still had no women on its board. Founder Sam Walton was under pressure, apparently both from shareholders and his wife, to appoint one. So, Walton called on the wife of the governor of Arkansas, where the mega-chain is based. As a director, Clinton pushed for more women in management and more environmentally responsible practices. "On other topics," The New York Times reported in 2007, "like Walmart’s vehement anti-unionism, for example, she was largely silent.” She remained on Walmart’s board for six years, until 1992. 

She helped create the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
As First Lady, Hillary Clinton tried to create a health insurance program that would cover all Americans. When insurance companies and special interests defeated that effort, Clinton turned her focus toward ensuring coverage for America’s children. The Children’s Health Insurance Program was championed by Democrats in Congress but, as Sen. Ted Kennedy said at the time, the program “wouldn't be in existence today if we didn't have Hillary pushing for it from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.” Over 5.7 million children receive health insurance through CHIP, according to 2013 data, which helped cut the uninsured rate for American kids in half.  

She voted for the War in Iraq.
During her tenure in the United States Senate, Clinton voted in favor of President George W. Bush’s 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. This was a major issue in her last run for the White House. Clinton tried to portray herself as more experienced in foreign policy than her primary opponent, freshman Senator Barack Obama. In debates, Obama charged that however strong Clinton’s experience, her judgment was weak. It was a message that resonated with war-weary voters, especially in the Democratic primary. 

She got more votes than Obama.
According to certain counts, Hillary Clinton actually got more votes in the 2008 Democratic primary than her challenger, and the ultimate victor, President Obama. Obama locked up the so-called super delegates at the convention, securing nomination votes that put him over the top. In state primaries, however, more Democratic voters actually cast ballots for Clinton. 

She’s the most traveled Secretary of State in history.
As Secretary of State under President Obama, Clinton tried to repair America’s relationships around the globe in the most direct of ways — by literally visiting more countries than any of her predecessorsShe visited 112 countries, conducted 1,666 meetings with foreign leaders, and logged almost a million miles. In fact, she spent the equivalent of 87 entire days in the air. The accomplishments of her tenure are more complicated. Efforts to “reset” America’s relationship with Russia and aid political transitions from Libya to Syria have devolved, though whether that’s the fault of Clinton or broader geopolitical forces will certainly be a debate in the election.

She’s always been told she can’t do things because of her gender… until now?
When Hillary Clinton was 13, she wanted to be an astronaut. So, she wrote to NASA asking how to go about it. She received a response explaining that girls weren’t allowed to be astronauts. Years later, at age 27 just before she married Bill, Hillary tried to enlist as a Marine. The recruiter apparently said, “You're too old, you can't see, and you're a woman.” Throughout her life, Clinton has been a persistent foe of the glass ceiling. Will she finally break it?
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