Governor Bill Clinton on women’s issues

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Published on February 10, 2012

Governor of Arkansas - January 9, 1979 – January 19, 1981 and January 11, 1983 – December 12, 1992

Governor Bill Clinton on women's issues

As Governor of Arkansas almost continually for 13 years from 1979, Bill Clinton amassed a considerable record on issues especially important women voters.

Perhaps what many of his supporters consider his greatest accomplishment as governor was his reform of the Arkansas education system.

He took what was one of the worst ranked school systems in the nation and turned it into one of the best, by promoting more diverse curricula, more spending on schools, more vocational programs, compulsory teacher testing, and increased wages for teachers in the state.

Governor Bill Clinton also garnered praise form women's group for his support of the Equal Rights Amendment, anti-discrimination and harassment policies for the workplace, and his many appointments of women to his cabinet, including his chief-of-staff.

He also made Arkansas the first state in the nation to enact a statewide child care voucher system, and promoted legislative action against deadbeat dads.

As Governor, Bill Clinton created a Children's Trust Fund, which helped pay for child abuse neglect prevention programs, and he signed additional legislation to finance medical examinations of sexual assault victims.

Throughout his political career, Governor Bill Clinton has supported a woman's legal right to choose with regard to abortion. He filed an amicus brief in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in support of abortion rights, and signed a parental notification law that, significantly, did not include a parental consent requirement.

Clinton's biggest potential trouble with women voters was not so much steeped in his domestic policy positions as much as troubling reports about his personal life.

Specifically, allegations of extra-marital affairs with multiple women presented a dilemma for his public image. Gennifer Flowers made such claims when Governor Bill Clinton ran for President in the 1992 election, and he ultimately admitted in a 1998 deposition to a single encounter with her in 1977.

Another women, Elizabeth Gracen, claimed during the 1992 campaign that Clinton had a one-night stand with her. Other women would later come forward with similar allegations, and Clinton would ultimately face impeachment over his admitted affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Despite the stories swirling around him at the time of the 1992 election, he garnered a record percentage of the women's vote - 45% to incumbent President George H. W. Bush's 36%.

This constituted a significant gap, given there was a formidable third-party challenge by businessman Rose Perot, who held markedly more liberal stances on social issues than he did on economic issues.

Indeed, Clinton came to be nicknamed "Teflon Bill" because of his approval rating's resistance to the kind personal revelations that have brought down so many other politicians.

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