The First-Ever Clinton Campaign Started With an “Area Man” Headline

Plus: the first ever Clinton scandal!


Southwest Times Record; John Paul Hammerschmidt Papers, Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville

Even the onetime leader of the free world was once just a lowly Area Man. That headline, from the Southwest (Arkansas) Times Record, heralded the inconspicuous start of Bubba’s political career, when he launched his first campaign in 1974, against Rep. John Paul Hammerschmidt (R-Ark.) Clinton, at the time a law professor at the University of Arkansas, hoped to ride anti-Watergate sentiment to Congress in the state’s most conservative congressional district, but fell just short. It might have been for the best—he was elected the state’s attorney general two years later and, two years after that, became America’s youngest governor.

The newspaper clipping was included in Hammerschmidt’s personal and public papers at the University of Arkansas. Also in the collection: what appears to be the first ever anti-Clinton whisper campaign, from a former law student of Clinton’s who claimed the candidate had once lost a bunch of papers:

John Paul Hammerschmidt Papers, Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville

Did Hillary know?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest