Attending Georgetown University to study international affairs, Clinton served as an intern for Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas before receiving his B.S. degree in 1968. After winning a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University, Clinton returned to the United States to enroll at Yale Law School. In 1972 he helped to manage presidential candidate George McGovern's Texas campaign. After graduating from law school in 1973, Clinton returned to Arkansas to teach and to plan his political career. On Oct. 11, 1975, he married Hillary Rodham, a fellow law student he had met at Yale.
After 12 years of Republican control of the presidency, Clinton came to office amid high expectations for fundamental policy change. Early in his administration he reversed a number of Republican policies. He ended the federal prohibition on the use of fetal tissue for medical research, repealed rules restricting abortion counseling in federally funded health clinics, and used his appointment power to fulfill a promise to place many women and minorities in prominent government positions.
Although backed by a Congress controlled by the Democratic party, Clinton found it difficult to change the course of national priorities during his first two years in office. Early in his administration several of his appointees encountered congressional disapproval. His proposal to end the ban on homosexuals in the military met with widespread opposition from Congress, the military, and the public and had to be altered substantially. Clinton had promised to reverse the Bush policy of returning Haitian refugees to their homeland, but he eventually decided to continue implementing his predecessor's plan.
The failure to enact comprehensive health-care reform proved to be a major setback for Clinton. Widespread public concerns over the proposal's complexity, its reliance on government administration, employer mandates, and levels of services, combined with an effective lobbying campaign by opponents, drained congressional support for this major policy initiative, which had been one of the cornerstones of Clinton's campaign.
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