10 things you may not know about Hillary Rodham Clinton

On Sunday, Hillary Rodham Clinton is to formally announce her candidacy for the presidency. Critics and competitors will be zeroing in on her political record. Here are some lesser-known things about her.

Kathy Willens/AP
Hillary Rodham Clinton talks to a youngster during a visit to an early childhood development center in Brooklyn April 1, 2015. The visit highlighted a new program to get parents to talk to their young children to enhance their development.

Young Republican? Would-be astronaut and US Marine? Grammy Award winner?

Hillary Rodham Clinton has been in the public spotlight for nearly all her adult life. First lady of Arkansas, first lady of the United States, US Senator, Secretary of State. It’s hard to think of much that isn’t already known about her personal and political curriculum vitae.

Opponents say there’s still dirt to dig up on Mrs. Clinton, who’s expected to formally announce her 2016 presidential candidacy Sunday at noon. Supporters say the most important thing to know about is her experience as lawmaker and diplomat with a family foundation whose mission is to "strengthen the capacity of people throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence."

All of this will be prodded and parsed over the coming months, with likely emphasis on things like her scrubbed email server, the terrorist attack on the US diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, and whether or not Americans are ready for another political dynasty (an issue that applies to Republicans Jeb Bush and Rand Paul as well).

Tucked within such weighty issues are tidbits about Clinton’s life that add to a fuller, more human picture. Cynics may see them as part of her ambitious march toward presidential power and glory. Supporters won’t. Here are a few:

• Clinton’s parents Hugh and Dorothy Rodham were Republicans, as was their only daughter (she has two younger brothers). As a freshman at Wellesley College in 1965, Hillary Rodham was president of the Young Republicans.

• But her political philosophy tended toward a more liberal Rockefeller Republicanism, and by 1968, with the civil rights and antiwar movements barreling through American society and politics, she was an active supporter of Democrat Eugene McCarthy. She once described herself as “a mind conservative and a heart liberal.” Out of Yale Law School (where she was one of 27 women in a class of 235), she was a staff attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund. She also voted to send America to war in Iraq. Generally liberal with a strain of hawkishness

• Clinton was a staff attorney with the congressional committee investigating Watergate, which led to the forced resignation of former president Richard Nixon.

• When she was 12 years old, young Hillary wrote NASA asking for information about becoming an astronaut. She was told the job was for men only. “Her mother comforted her by saying that her eyesight was much too bad anyway,” US News reports. Years later, she inquired about enlisting in the US Marine Corps, but was turned down, likely because of her age and eyesight. (Some critics say it was just a ploy to test the US military services’ attitude toward women.)

• At Wellesley, she wrote her 92-page senior thesis on radical community organizer Saul Alinsky. At the request of the Clinton administration, Wellesley agreed not to make the thesis public until after the Clintons left the White House.

• Between Wellesley (where she was the first student to deliver a commencement address) and Yale Law, Clinton worked in Alaska, washing dishes and processing fish at a cannery. According to one biography, the cannery fired her and then shut down after she complained about unhealthy conditions.

• When asked what attracted her to Bill Clinton (who proposed marriage many times before she finally accepted), she is reported to have said, “He wasn’t afraid of me.” She kept her family name until Bill ran for governor of Arkansas a second time (he had lost his first reelection bid) and it seemed politically expedient to add “Clinton.”

• Clinton has served as a director of several corporations, including from 1986-1992 as the first woman on Wal-Mart’s board – where she reportedly pushed to have more women in Wal-Mart management.

• In 1997, Clinton received a Grammy Award for best spoken word album for her audio recording of her book “It Takes a Village.” Clinton was criticized for not crediting journalism professor Barbara Feinman, who did much of the research, writing, and editing of the book.

• No surprise here: The class of 1965 at Maine Township High School South in Park Ridge, Ill., voted her "Most Likely To Succeed."

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.