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Clinton secured as next Great Names speaker

By Bonnie Wertheim ’14

May 9, 2013

Even though it was only at the beginning of this semester that we inaugurated President Barack Obama for his second term, already the country is beginning to look ahead, toward 2016. Who will our next great leader be? Some politicians have expressed interest openly, like Vice President Joe Biden and Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, while others are merely subjects of speculation.

Of all the possible presidential candidates, the one who is probably receiving the most buzz is former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. After running in the 2008 presidential election, during which she won several primaries, Clinton went on to serve in Obama’s Administration. Now, for the first time in decades, she is enjoying life as a private citizen, and it’s hard to say whether Clinton will want to give up that freedom for a second presidential campaign. What we do know for sure, though, is that, this fall, Clinton will be coming to the Hill.

On Friday, Oct. 4, she will present a free, open-to-the-public lecture in the Margaret Bundy Scott Field House. The lecture will serve as the next installment in the ongoing Sacerdote Great Names Series, which is made possible thanks to the generosity of the family of Hamilton trustee Alex Sacerdote ’94. While the Great Names event often takes place during the spring semester, the College decided to adjust the schedule this year in order to align with Clinton’s availability.

Clinton’s political achievements are extensive. As the first First Lady to have earned a postgraduate degree (after graduating from Wellesley College in 1969, she enrolled in Yale Law School, from which she earned her JD), as well as the first to have maintained a career up until moving into the White House, Clinton certainly wasn’t going to be a silent figure during her husband’s presidential terms. 

On the contrary, she made her voice heard constantly in the White House, becoming the first First Lady, additionally, to have an office in its West Wing. She played an active role in the Clinton Administration, serving as an advocate for health care reform and improvements to the existing policies surrounding adoption and foster care. Her efforts saw initiatives like the State Children’s Health Insurance Program take off.

After Clinton left the White House, she continued to make history. In 2000, she became the first First Lady to run for and be elected to the U.S. Senate. As a senator of New York, Clinton made bipartisan efforts to improve the accessibility of health care. Her first term coincided with the Sept. 11 attacks, after which she worked to provide first responders with proper aid and worked to gain funding in order to rebuild New York City.

She was reelected to the Senate in 2006, but had even bigger goals in mind. Her next move was a presidential campaign, which she announced online in 2007, saying in a video on her website, “I’m in, and I’m in to win.”

During the 2008 race, she was a fierce competitor, winning more primaries than any of the female presidential candidates who had come before her and taking the lead in the Democratic opinion polls for much of 2007. Ultimately, of course, Obama won the Democratic presidential nomination, and Clinton endorsed him.

When she lost to Obama in the Democratic campaign, she had planned to continue her work in the Senate.  She never expected to be appointed by her former rival as Secretary of State, a position she held from Jan. 21, 2009 until Feb. 1, 2013. Clinton’s four-year term as Secretary of State centered primarily on improving U.S. relations with other countries, traveling all over the world and speaking about strategies for peace in the Middle East, women’s rights and economic reform.

Clinton will be the fourth former Secretary of State to speak at Hamilton for the Sacerdote Great Names. Series In previous years, Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright and, most recently, Condoleeza Rice have come to the Hill to give lectures.

More details about the Great Names lecture will be released in September.

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