Think you know everything about Hillary Clinton? This list may surprise you.
After 25 years on the national stage (as First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State), Hillary Clinton is one of the most recognized women in America. Scratch that — in the world. Everyone has an opinion about her. Despite people feeling as though they have all of the information they could ever need to know, there is so much more to her story.
I have been working to elect women for almost thirty years, and I know that a candidate’s personal experiences affect the type of leader she will be. I believe Clinton’s background drives her values and her decision-making process. Here are some things you may not know about the people and experiences that shaped the person who could be our first woman president.
1. Hillary Clinton’s mother faced a tough childhood.
As Clinton shares in the video above, her mother, Dorothy, was abandoned by her parents and sent to live with abusive grandparents. In her campaign announcement last year, Clinton said of her mother: “My mother taught me that everybody needs a chance and a champion. She knew what it was like not to have either one.” Clinton has been a tireless champion for children beginning with her work at the Children’s Defense Fund right after law school. As First Lady, she shepherded the Children’s Health Insurance Program through Congress. More than eight million children have healthcare because of this program.
2. Hillary Clinton grew up in a middle-class household.
Clinton was raised in a middle class neighborhood in the Midwest — Park Ridge, Illinois to be exact. Her father ran a small business, her mother was a homemaker, and Clinton and her brothers attended public schools. Her grandfather worked in a lace mill in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She knows firsthand how important it is for families to have the chance to succeed, and she is committed to strengthening America’s middle class.
3. Hillary Clinton was raised in a Republican home.
Clinton has described her father as a “rock-ribbed, up-by-your-bootstraps, conservative Republican.” In her teens she campaigned as a Goldwater girl. One of Clinton’s most significant accomplishments during her tenure as a U.S. Senator was her ability to build strong relationships with both Democrats and Republicans. To quote Senator Lindsey Graham, who ran for president in this election’s Republican primary: “We have become, actually, good friends. And that was a surprise to both of us.” Clinton was able to work across party lines while First Lady and a Senator, and will continue to do so in the White House.
4. Hillary Clinton’s commitment to social activism is grounded in her faith.
A lifelong Methodist, Clinton was active in her youth group as a teenager, and counts her youth minister as one of the great mentors in her life. On a youth ministry trip to Chicago, Clinton saw Martin Luther King Jr. speak, igniting a passion for social justice that continues today. On the campaign trail, Clinton often paraphrases a teaching from the founder of the Methodist church, John Wesley: “Do all the good we can, in whatever ways we can, to all the people we can.” Through her policies and actions, we’ve seen that Clinton is determined to remove barriers based on race, gender, and sexual orientation and gender identity.
5. Hillary Clinton embraces her role as a grandmother.
When her first grandchild was born, Clinton shared what the event meant to her: “Having that next generation right there and thinking about everything you want to do both personally but in our cases, publicly and professionally, to give that child the best chance in life to be all he or she can be, that is profoundly moving to me.” Clinton is willing to work hard to ensure the world is better for her grandchildren — Charlotte and Aidan — and for all children.
When evaluating candidates for public office, looking at the whole of their experiences can help us understand their motivations and priorities. In Clinton’s case, I believe her experiences offer us insight into the President she will be. For Clinton, it’s always been about making life better for children and families.
For Hillary Clinton, it’s personal.