Hillary Clinton -- wife of the 42nd president, Bill Clinton -- was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000 and re-elected in 2006. She became the first former first lady to run for public office and the first female senator from New York and is easily one of the most recognizable names on the political scene today.
During her time as first lady, from 1993 until 2001, Clinton paid a particular focus to children's initiatives, women's issues and health care reform. Most of her early foreign affairs projects involved championing women's rights in underdeveloped countries.
Clinton suffered tough political failures during her early years in the White House, particularly when her bid to create a universal health care program was defeated. But she was successful in paving the way for the creation of a children's health care program and in 1995, her book, "It Takes a Village," examined how communities play a role in shaping children's lives and became an international best seller.
Eager to carve out a new identity in public office, she ran successfully for New York's U.S. Senate seat in 2000 and became the first New York senator to serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon, Clinton pushed hard to fund considerable recovery projects in New York City.
Working along with fellow New York Sen. Charles Schumer, Clinton secured $21 billion for redevelopment for the decimated World Trade Center site. Clinton was a strong supporter of 2001 military action in Afghanistan directly following the attacks. In October 2002, she voted to support President Bush's authorization of the war in Iraq.
She has used her position on the Senate Armed Services Committee to question the Bush administration's foreign policy and has called for a cap on troops levels in Iraq. But despite pushes from antiwar activists, Clinton has refused to renounce her 2002 vote to authorize the war in Iraq.
Clinton hinted at her approach to other foreign policy issues during the Democratic primary race. During the contest, Clinton charged that Obama's stated openness to meeting leaders of Iran, Syria and North Korea was evidence of his naivete about foreign policy. She has, however, argued for engaging Iran, Syria and other countries of the region in talks about the future of Iraq, according to a Reuters analysis.
On the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Clinton wrote in a 2007 article for Foreign Affairs magazine that "U.S. diplomacy is critical in helping to resolve this conflict." She said the United States should help facilitate the building of Arab support for a Palestinian leadership that will engage in talks with the Israelis.
When the 2008 election year approached, Clinton decided to launch a bid toward winning the nation's top job. She and Obama engaged in a bitter and prolonged battle for the Democratic nomination, which saw the two trade wins and losses in a race that stretched into June of the election year.
Clinton eventually conceded the close primary battle to Obama and went on to encourage her loyal supporters to back his bid for president.
"Unity is not only a beautiful place as we can see; it's a wonderful feeling, isn't it? And I know when we start here in this field in Unity, we'll end on the steps of the Capitol when Barack Obama takes the oath of office as our next president," Clinton said during a campaign appearance for Obama in Unity, New Hampshire, in late June.
"Advisers said Mr. Obama concluded after the election that the problems confronting the nation were so serious that he needed Mrs. Clinton's stature and capabilities as part of his team, notwithstanding their past differences," the New York Times wrote of the Clinton choice. "The bitterness that inhabited the Obama team for much of the year has faded with time, advisers said."
Clinton was born and raised in a Chicago suburb and attended Wellesley College. She became the first student to deliver the commencement address at her 1969 graduation. After graduating from Wellesley, Clinton attended Yale's law school, where she met her future husband.
Following law school, Clinton served as staff attorney for the Children's Defense Fund and advised the House Judiciary Committee on the impeachment inquiry staff during the Watergate scandal.