Post-presidency of Bill Clinton

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Bill Clinton in 2004

Bill Clinton was the 42nd President of the United States, serving from 1993 to 2001. After he left office, he continued to be active in the public sphere, touring the world, writing books, and campaigning for Democrats, including his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Public speaking and campaigning[edit]

Hillary Clinton re-enacts being sworn in as a U.S. Senator by Vice President Gore as Bill and Chelsea Clinton observe.

At the end of his presidency, the Clintons moved to Chappaqua, New York, in Westchester County. Clinton opened his personal office in the Harlem section of New York City.[1] In 2000, Clinton assisted his wife in her campaign for office as Senator from New York.[2] Clinton campaigned for a number of Democratic candidates for the Senate in the 2002 elections.[3]

Clinton comments on contemporary politics in speaking engagements around the world.[4][5] One notable theme is his advocacy of multilateral solutions to world problems.

Clinton spoke for the fifth consecutive time at a Democratic National Convention on July 26, 2004, praising candidate John Kerry. He said of President George W. Bush's depiction of Kerry, "strength and wisdom are not opposing values." Despite Clinton's speech, the post-convention bounce to Kerry's poll numbers was less than was hoped for.[6]

Clinton has given dozens of paid speeches each year, mostly to corporations and philanthropic groups in North America and Europe, often earning $100,000 to $300,000 per speech.[7] According to his wife's Senate ethics reports, he earned more than $30 million in speaking from 2001 to 2005.[8] In 2007, it is estimated he amassed around $40 million from speaking.[9]

Clinton made his first visit to new United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in April 2007. The 45-minute meeting, called at Clinton's request, touched on a host of topics, including disease, war, famine and poverty in Africa, especially in the Darfur region. The Middle East, the conflict in Iraq, and Iran's nuclear standoff with the U.N. were on the agenda, as well as HIV/AIDS.[10]

He was the opening speaker at the Ontario Economic Summit held on November 13, 2007 in which he addressed people on various subjects including Canada's role in Afghanistan, environmentalism and access to healthcare.[11]

Clinton served as one of the organizers for the New Baptist Covenant alongside former President Jimmy Carter and other Baptist leaders. This effort sought to bring various Baptists in America together, especially across racial lines, to discuss issues that unite them. Clinton spoke at the January 2008 celebration in Atlanta, GA.

William J. Clinton Presidential Center[edit]

Clinton dedicated his presidential library, the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas on November 18, 2004.[12] Under rainy skies, Clinton received praise from former presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, as well as from then-president George W. Bush. He was treated to a musical rendition from Bono and The Edge from U2, who expressed their gratitude at Clinton's efforts to resolve the Northern Ireland conflict during his presidency.[13] The library has the largest archives of any presidential library.

The Clinton facility was funded to a large degree by donations from foreign governments, receiving a $10 million donation from the royal family of Saudi Arabia.[14]

Published work[edit]

Clinton released a personal autobiography, My Life in 2004. The book was published by the Knopf Publishing Group at Random House on June 22, 2004. According to the publisher, for single day non-fiction book sales, the book set a worldwide record.[15] Later released as an audio book, total sales were in excess of 400,000 copies. As a writer's fee, he received U.S. $12 million in advance.[16]

He released, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World in September 2007, which became a bestseller and gandered positive reviews.[17] The book is about citizen activism and the role of public charity and public service in the modern world.[18] The audiobook version was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award in the category of Best Spoken Word Album.

In 2011, Clinton released a book "Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy." The book details Clinton's suggestions for improving the economy.

William J. Clinton Foundation[edit]

The William J. Clinton Foundation promotes and provides for a number of humanitarian causes. Within the foundation, the Clinton Foundation HIV and AIDS Initiative (CHAI) strives to make treatment for HIV/AIDS more affordable and to implement large-scale integrated care, treatment, and prevention programs. While in Sydney to attend a Global Business Forum, Clinton signed a memorandum of understanding on behalf of his presidential foundation with the Australian government to promote HIV/AIDS programs in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), funded by the Clinton Foundation, was inaugurated September 15–17, 2005 in New York City to coincide with the 2005 World Summit. The focus areas of the initiative include attempts to address world problems such as global public health, poverty alleviation and religious and ethnic conflict.[19]

Clinton announced through the William J. Clinton Foundation an agreement by major soft drink manufacturers to stop selling sugared sodas and juice drinks, in public primary and secondary schools within the United States, on May 3, 2005.[20]

The foundation has received donations from a number of foreign governments, including the king of Morocco, a foundation linked to the United Arab Emirates, and the governments of Kuwait and Qatar.[21]

In 2008 newspapers reported that "Mr Clinton had travelled to Kazakhstan with a Canadian mining magnate, Frank Giustra, to meet its dictator president. Mr Giustra later won three lucrative uranium mining contracts from the government and then donated $US31 million to Mr Clinton's charity."[21]

Relations with George H. W. Bush[edit]

Clinton with former President George H. W. Bush in January 2005.

In the aftermath of the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, Clinton established, with fellow former President George H. W. Bush, the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund and Bush-Clinton Tsunami Fund, for which they were awarded the 2006 Philadelphia Liberty Medal on October 5, 2006.[22] They spoke together at the funeral of Boris Yeltsin.[23]

Then-President George W. Bush, to help the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, named Clinton and George H. W. Bush to lead a nationwide campaign on January 3, 2005. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan selected Clinton to head the United Nations earthquake and tsunami relief and reconstruction effort on February 1, 2005.[24]

Five days later, to raise money for relief through the USA Freedom Corps, Clinton and Bush appeared on the Fox Super Bowl XXXIX pre-game show.[25] Thirteen days later, to see the relief efforts, they traveled to the affected areas.[26]

Clinton, along with George W. Bush, Laura Bush, George H. W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Andrew Card pay their respects to Pope John Paul II before the pope's funeral.

Environment[edit]

To create the Clinton Foundation Climate Change Initiative (CCI), the William J. Clinton Foundation entered into a partnership with the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group on August 1, 2006, agreeing to provide resources to allow the participating cities to enter into an energy-saving product purchasing consortium and to provide technical and communications support.[27]

Clinton criticized the Bush administration for its handling of emissions control while speaking at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal on December 9, 2005. To promote initiatives concerning the environment, Clinton twice visited the University of California, Los Angeles in 2006. First, to advertise the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group, he met with Tony Blair, Ken Livingstone, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Gavin Newsom on August 1, 2006. On October 13, 2006, he spoke in favor of California Proposition 87 on alternative energy, which was voted down.[28]

Personal health[edit]

On September 2, 2004, while campaigning for Kerry, Clinton had an episode of angina and was evaluated at Northern Westchester Hospital. It was determined he did not suffer a coronary infarction, and he was sent home, returning the following day for angiography, which disclosed multiple vessel coronary artery disease. He was transferred to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, where he underwent a successful on-pump quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery on September 6, 2004. The medical team stated, had he not had surgery, he would have likely suffered a massive heart attack within a few months.[29] As a complication of his heart surgery, Clinton underwent a follow-up surgery on March 10, 2005 for a left pleural effusion, removing scar tissue and fluid from his left chest cavity.[30]

On February 11, 2010, he was rushed to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City after complaining of chest pains, and had two coronary stents implanted in his heart.[31][32][33][34] He has since recovered and become a vegan.[35]

2008 Presidential election[edit]

In the course of the 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign, Clinton vigorously advocated on behalf of his wife, Hillary Clinton, leading some observers and party members to question the appropriateness of his role in view of his status as a former president.[36] Some felt that Clinton was overshadowing his wife in the campaign,[37][38][39] with her presidential rival Barack Obama complaining that he sometimes "did not know which Clinton he was running against."[40] At a MSNBC debate, Republican primary candidate Mitt Romney said that he "can't imagine Bill Clinton left with nothing to do in the White House", suggesting that Clinton would be a "co-president and try and help manage the economy and help manage the world affairs".[41]

Clinton speaking at a rally for his wife at Dickinson College.

Top Democratic Party officials, including Congressman Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, asked Clinton to tone down his attacks on Obama following the bitterly contested Nevada caucus, suggesting that Clinton could be damaging his own political capital and global stature.[42] Some commentators even accused the former president of "playing the race card" against Obama, who is half-black, by suggesting he would understand if South Carolina's African Americans naturally would vote for the black candidate, but rejected suggestions that America was not ready for a black President.[43][44][45] Many felt that by alienating black voters who had once overwhelmingly supported the Clintons, Clinton had tarnished his legacy as the so-called "first black president."[46][47] In particular, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) suggested that Clinton's vocal attacks on Obama could damage the former President's legacy.[48] Following his wife's disappointing defeat in South Carolina, Clinton again made headlines when he appeared to undermine and racialize Obama's victory by comparing it to Jesse Jackson's failed 1984 bid for the Presidency.[49] Some observers suggested that the controversial comments fueled Sen. Ted Kennedy's decision to endorse Sen. Obama for the Presidency.[50] Clinton attracted further controversy with a series of attacks against Obama that many independents and former Clinton supporters felt to be unfair.[46][51][52][53] While some believed the attacks might eventually pay off,[54] others felt they would damage Hillary Clinton's presidential prospects and alienate Democratic voters in the general election.[51][52][55] Bill Clinton defended his role in the campaign in South Carolina, disputing claims he made race a campaign issue.[56] According to some reports, the accusations of racism hurt him personally, as blacks had long been Clinton's most loyal supporters.[57][58]

Clinton speaks during the third night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

During the primary campaign, his wife's aides criticized Clinton's freelancing and deemed his office uncooperative– at one point, they complained, his people would not allow one of her people to ride on his plane to campaign stops. His aides, on the other hand, stewed over what they saw as her people's disregard for the advice of one of this generation's great political minds and bristled at surrendering control of his schedule. On the night of the Pennsylvania primary, Clinton grew playfully competitive with his wife over who had done more events or had had more impact. Governor Ed Rendell showed Clinton the county-by-county returns, while she was superstitious and rarely watched election night coverage. According to Rendell, "The president wanted to know exactly what the returns were in the places he had been and Hillary hadn't been. He kept showing Hillary, and she would laugh."[57][58]

Due to Clinton's prominent role in his wife's presidential run and his criticism of Obama, many perceived an enduring distance between the two. Clinton was asked later if he thought presidential nominee Barack Obama was qualified to be president. He replied that the Constitution sets qualifications. When pressed as to whether Obama was "ready" to be president, Clinton replied, "You could argue that no one is ready to be president."[59] Such remarks lead to apprehension that the party would be split to the detriment of Obama's election. Fears were allayed August 27, 2008 when Clinton enthusiastically endorsed Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, saying that all his experience as president assures him that Obama is "ready to lead".[60]

Trip to North Korea[edit]

Clinton made an unannounced trip to North Korea, a country with which the United States does not have diplomatic relations, on August 4, 2009.[61] Clinton arrived in Pyongyang in order to negotiate the release of U.S. citizens Euna Lee and Laura Ling, who were imprisoned by North Korean forces for illegally entering the country from China while filming a documentary and given a 12-year sentence.[62] His visit to North Korea is the second such trip by a former U.S. president, the other occurring when Jimmy Carter visited in 1994.[62] After meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, Kim issued a special pardon for the two journalists.[63] On the morning of August 5, the journalists were released from custody and flew home to the United States with Clinton.[64]

2010 Haiti earthquake[edit]

In 2009, Clinton was named United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti.[65] On January 16, 2010, in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that Clinton and George W. Bush will coordinate efforts to raise funds for Haiti's recovery.[66]

Sestak controversy[edit]

In late May 2010, the Obama Administration reported that Clinton had acted as an envoy from the White House to Pennsylvania Democratic Senate Primary candidate Joe Sestak in order to offer him an unpaid advisory job in exchange for dropping out of the race against Arlen Specter.

Soccer[edit]

Clinton visited the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and was an avid booster of the American team. He was also one of the proponents of the United States 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids. Clinton had been president when the U.S. hosted the 1994 World Cup and 1999 Women's World Cup.

Clinton and his daughter Chelsea with President Obama at Nelson Mandela's funeral in South Africa, December 2013

2012 Presidential Election[edit]

Clinton was a major surrogate for President Barack Obama in the election year, most notably delivering a forty-five minute speech on the second night of the Democratic National Convention, 2012 that was well received in the press, with former Romney consultant Alex Castellanos even stating Clinton had "won the election" for Obama. Clinton remained a powerful surrogate for the President, and was the second person Obama called after receiving Republican candidate Mitt Romney's concession. Clinton also later spoke with Romney, mentioning he felt that Hurricane Sandy had secured Obama's victory.[67] Many, including David Axelrod, have stated Clinton played a crucial role in Obama's campaign.[68]

References[edit]

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