William Jefferson Clinton (né Blythe III; born August 19, 1946) is an American politician who served as the 42nd president of the United States from 1993 to 2001. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and again from 1983 to 1992. Clinton, whose policies reflected a centrist "Third Way" political philosophy, became known as a New Democrat.
Clinton was born and raised in Arkansas. He graduated from Georgetown University and later from Yale Law School, where he met his future wife, Hillary Rodham. After graduating from law school, Clinton returned to Arkansas and won election as state attorney general, followed by two non-consecutive tenures as Arkansas governor. As governor, he overhauled the state's education system and served as chairman of the National Governors Association. Clinton was elected president in the 1992 election, defeating incumbent Republican president George H. W. Bush and independent businessman Ross Perot. He became the first president to be born in the Baby Boomer generation.
Clinton presided over the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in American history. He signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, but failed to pass his plan for national health care reform. The Republican Party won unified control of Congress for the first time in 40 years in the 1994 elections, but Clinton was still comfortably re-elected president in 1996 against both Republican Bob Dole and Perot—now the Reform Party nominee. Starting in the mid-1990s, he began an ideological evolution as he became much more conservative in his domestic policy, advocating for and signing the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, the State Children's Health Insurance Program and financial deregulation measures. He appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer to the U.S. Supreme Court. During the last three years of Clinton's presidency, the Congressional Budget Office reported a budget surplus—the first such surplus since 1969. In foreign policy, Clinton ordered U.S. military intervention in the Bosnian and Kosovo wars, eventually signing the Dayton Peace agreement. He also called for the expansion of NATO in Eastern Europe and many former Warsaw Pact members joined NATO during his presidency. Clinton's foreign policy in the Middle East saw him sign the Iraq Liberation Act which gave aid to groups against Saddam Hussein. He also participated in the Oslo I Accord and Camp David Summit to advance the Israeli–Palestinian peace process, and assisted the Northern Ireland peace process.
Clinton's second term was dominated by the Clinton–Lewinsky scandal, which began in 1995, when he had a sexual relationship with then 22-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky. In January 1998, news of the affair made tabloid headlines. This scandal escalated throughout the year, culminating in December when Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives. The two impeachment articles that the House passed were centered around him using the powers of the presidency to obstruct the investigation and lying under oath. In 1999, Clinton's impeachment trial began in the Senate, where he was acquitted on both charges.
Clinton left office in 2001 with the joint-highest approval rating of any U.S. president. His presidency ranks among the middle to upper tier in historical rankings of U.S. presidents. However, his personal conduct and allegations of sexual assault have made him the subject of substantial scrutiny. Since leaving office, Clinton has been involved in public speaking and humanitarian work. He created the Clinton Foundation to address international causes such as the prevention of HIV/AIDS and global warming. In 2009, he was named the United Nations special envoy to Haiti. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Clinton founded the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. He has remained active in Democratic Party politics, campaigning for his wife's 2008 and 2016 presidential campaigns.
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