William Jefferson Clinton was born in Hope, Arkansas, on August 19, 1946. An active student leader, reader, and musician, Clinton would show an interest in leadership and public life from an early age. With the aid of scholarships, he was able to attend Georgetown University in 1964, earning a degree in Foreign Service. Later, he would spend time studying at Oxford before attending Yale Law School, where he earned a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in 1973.
While at Yale, he met fellow law student Hillary Rodham, and the two would eventually marry in 1975. Clinton would enter the political spotlight the following year, becoming Arkansas Attorney General after winning an uncontested general election.
In 1978, Clinton entered the Arkansas gubernatorial race and was elected Governor of Arkansas. He was just 32 years-old when he took office. Clinton would serve as governor from 1979 to 1981, and again from 1983 to 1992, earning the nickname “Boy Governor” for his youthful appearance. As Governor of Arkansas, he overhauled the state’s education system and served as chairman of the National Governors Association.
After rising through the ranks of the Democratic Party, Clinton earned his party’s presidential nomination in 1992, presenting himself as a moderate. He would eventually defeat incumbent President George H. W. Bush in the 1992 Presidential Election.
Life As President
As America’s 42nd president, Bill Clinton would come to be remembered for many things. Under his presidency, the country experienced an extended period of economic prosperity, and his fiscally conservative policies helped to reduce the national deficit. He signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement, and played a major role in the expansion of NATO into former Eastern Bloc countries, all while remaining friendly with Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
Clinton helped create the first federal budget surpluses since the 1960s. However, much of his second term was dominated by the story of his affair with White House Intern, Monica Lewinsky–something which he at first adamantly denied. Having lied to the American people, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Clinton in 1998. The Senate would acquit him of those charges, however. And Clinton would still end his presidency with one of the highest end-of-office approval ratings since World War II.
Since leaving office, Clinton has been involved in public speaking and humanitarian work. He has remained active within the Democratic Party, helping campaign for presidential candidates like his wife and Barack Obama.
Throughout his long life, Bill Clinton was able to offer many bits of wisdom, insight, and humor. Below you’ll find a few of the most memorable Bill Clinton quotes.
Further Reading: How to Impeach a President in the United States
20 Memorable & Relevant Bill Clinton Quotes
On Current Politics & Society
“Hillary opened my eyes to a whole new world of public service by private citizens.”
“Our rich texture of racial, religious and political diversity will be a Godsend in the 21st century. Great rewards will come to those who can live together, learn together, work together, forge new ties that bind together.”
“The road to tyranny, we must never forget, begins with the destruction of the truth.”
“Our Founders saw themselves in the light of posterity. We can do no less. Anyone who has ever watched a child’s eyes wander into sleep knows what posterity is. Posterity is the world to come: the world for whom we hold our ideals, from whom we have borrowed our planet, and to whom we bear sacred responsibility. We must do what America does best: offer more opportunity to all and demand more responsibility from all.”
“Yesterday is yesterday. If we try to recapture it, we will only lose tomorrow.”
“It is time to heal America. And so we must say to every American: Look beyond the stereotypes that blind us. We need each other. All of us, we need each other. We don’t have a person to waste. And yet for too long politicians have told the most of us that are doing all right that what’s really wrong with America is the rest of us. Them. Them, the minorities. Them, the liberals. Them, the poor. Them, the homeless. Them, the people with disabilities. Them, the gays. We’ve gotten to where we’ve nearly “them”ed ourselves to death. Them and them and them. But this is America. There is no them; there’s only us. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice, for all.”
On the Economy
“Now, I don’t have all the answers, but I do know the old ways don’t work. Trickle-down economics has sure failed. And big bureaucracies, both private and public, they’ve failed too. That’s why we need a new approach to government, a government that offers more empowerment and less entitlement. More choices for young people in the schools they attend- in the public schools they attend. And more choices for the elderly and for people with disabilities and the long-term care they receive. A government that is leaner, not meaner; a government that expands opportunity, not bureaucracy; a government that understands that jobs must come from growth in a vibrant and vital system of free enterprise.”
“Every year Congress and the president sign laws that make us do more things and gives us less money to do it with. I see people in my state, middle-class people — their taxes have gone up in Washington and their services have gone down while the wealthy have gotten tax cuts. I have seen what’s happened in [these] last four years when — in my state, when people lose their jobs there’s a good chance I’ll know them by their names. When a factory closes, I know the people who ran it. When the businesses go bankrupt, I know them. And I’ve been out here for 13 months meeting in meetings just like this ever since October, with people like you all over America, people that have lost their jobs, lost their livelihood, lost their health insurance.”
On FOX & The War on Terror
“I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans who now say I didn’t do enough claimed that I was too obsessed with Bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neo-cons thought I was too obsessed with Bin Laden. They had no meetings on Bin Laden for nine months after I left office. All the right-wingers who now say I didn’t do enough, said I did too much—same people.”
“So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted. So you did Fox’s bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me… And you’ve got that little smirk on your face and you think you’re so clever. But I had responsibility for trying to protect this country. I tried and I failed to get bin Laden. I regret it. But I did try. And I did everything I thought I responsibly could.”
On Being in Politics & Being an American
“If a politician doesn’t wanna get beat up, he shouldn’t run for office. If a football player doesn’t want to get tackled or want the risk of an a occasional clip he shouldn’t put the pads on.”
“In the years ahead, I will never hold a position higher or a covenant more sacred than that of President of the United States. But there is no title I will wear more proudly than that of citizen.”
“Americans have more freedom and broader rights than citizens of almost any other nation in the world, including the capacity to criticize their government and their elected officials. But we do not have the right to resort to violence — or the threat of violence — when we don’t get our way. Our founders constructed a system of government so that reason could prevail over fear. Oklahoma City proved once again that without the law there is no freedom.”
“It’s a great thing about not being office—you can just say whatever you want.”
“There are always going to be people who want to be president, and some days I’d like to give it to them.”
On His Affair / Marriage
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
“Indeed, I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible. But I told the grand jury today and I say to you now that at no time did I ask anyone to lie, to hide or destroy evidence or to take any other unlawful action.”
Other Fun Bill Clinton Quotes
“I felt like a pickle stepping into history.”
“When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t inhale and never tried it again.”
“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
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