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Hillary Rodham Clinton, First Woman to Be a Presidential Candidate in Every Primary and Caucus

Written By Rachel Balik
Last updated: August 6, 2023

In 2008, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first woman to hold a spot as a presidential candidate in every primary and caucus in every state, and the first woman to win a presidential primary.

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Early Days

Born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 26, 1947, Clinton graduated from Yale Law School.

The New York Times’s recent article on the early days of Hillary Rodham’s political career explores her passionate 1960s-era sentiments and political thoughts as a “civic-minded Republican” who exchanged letters with a childhood friend, Richard Peavoy. Excerpts from the letters are shared and comments provided by Peavoy. Another Times article on Clinton’s early career tells a story of the heated environment of 1968 and Clinton’s civil-rights work and words during this time.

She married former President Bill Clinton and has one daughter, Chelsea.

Notable Accomplishments

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s road to the presidential nomination started when she was elected to the United States Senate in 2000. As “the first First Lady of the United States elected to public office and the first woman elected independently statewide in New York State,” Clinton has set a standard for political “firsts” and paved the way for women in public service.

With a focus on ending the Iraq War, U.S. energy independence, women’s rights, immigration reform and health care, Clinton has been instrumental in introducing legislation that supports these platforms. A list of many of Clinton’s quotes about key issues, as well as voting record information on important topics, can be found at On The Issues.

In January 2008, Clinton recovered from her loss in the Iowa caucus to win the New Hampshire primary, becoming the first woman in U.S. history to achieve that feat. Often criticized for possessing a demeanor that was too tough to be appealing, Clinton surprised the American public when she broke down in tears. The Boston Globe wrote that voters were receptive to Clinton’s emotional side, calling it “a genuine response to the enormous pressure of today’s make-or-break moment and the exhaustion of campaigning around the clock for weeks.” In an interview with CNN, Clinton explained that she usually tried to be reserved because she wanted to be judged for her work.

Clinton was the first woman to be in a presidential primary and caucus in every state, but she ultimately lost to Illinois Senator Barack Obama. In a heartfelt concession speech, she thanked voters for putting cracks in the glass ceiling and urged Democrats to unite in support of presumptive nominee Barack Obama.

Sources in this Story

The Rest of the Story

Although Clinton downplayed the fact that she was a woman while campaigning, she freely addressed the subject in her concession speech, which employed some of the best rhetoric of her campaign. She told voters that the glass ceiling was still intact, but that they had put 18 million cracks in it. She underscored her campaign’s progressive achievements, telling supporters, “because of you, children today will grow up taking for granted that an African American or a woman can, yes, become the president of the United States.”

Clinton’s biography on the U.S. Senate Web site discusses the politician’s accomplishment in terms of her senate résumé. It also mentions her philanthropic work and book publications, including her best-selling autobiography, Living History.

Charles Eames

Rachel has been with findingDulcinea since February of 2007. Before joining the team, Rachel was a copywriter at a financial services marketing firm. She has also worked in arts administration at New York's Roundabout Theatre Company and as a production assistant on off-Broadway shows. Rachel's eclectic post-college years also include a stint as a yoga studio assistant and a summer spent assistant-teaching philosophy at Phillips Exeter Academy. She has a B.A. in English and Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania with a minor in Theatre Arts. For more about Rachel read her blog, Wicked Witch Of The Web.

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