Chelsea Clinton

Chelsea Clinton

Clinton speaking during a campaign stop in Philadelphia (2008)
Born February 27, 1980 (1980-02-27) (age 31)
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
Alma mater Stanford University
University College, Oxford
Columbia University
New York University
Political party Democratic Party
Religion United Methodism[1]
Spouse Marc Mezvinsky (2010–present)

Chelsea Victoria Clinton (born February 27, 1980) is a television journalist, currently serving as Special Correspondent for NBC News, and philanthropist, working through the Clinton Global Initiative. She is the only child of former U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Clinton was born in Little Rock, Arkansas during her father's first term as Governor of Arkansas. She attended public schools there until her father's election to the Presidency of the United States at which time she attended and graduated from the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. She continued her undergraduate education at Stanford University and earned master's degrees from University College, Oxford, and Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. She worked for Avenue Capital Group, and serves on the board of the School of American Ballet and IAC/InterActiveCorp.[2]

Between December 2007 and the end of the 2008 primaries, she campaigned extensively across the country, appearing mostly on college campuses, for her mother's ultimately unsuccessful Democratic presidential nomination bid and introduced her mother at the August 2008 Democratic National Convention.

On July 31, 2010, Clinton married investment banker Marc Mezvinsky in Rhinebeck, New York.


Early years

Chelsea Victoria Clinton was born three weeks early on February 27, 1980 in Little Rock, Arkansas to Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Hillary described the birth of her daughter as "the most miraculous and awe-inspiring event in my life". As his wife recovered, Bill Clinton took Chelsea for father-daughter "bonding" walks about the hospital singing to her, rocking her, and showing her off. Chelsea was their only child, and the first grandchild for both sets of grandparents. Bill's mother happily did "a lot of baby-sitting" as did the Rodhams when they visited. At the age of two, Chelsea accompanied her parents as they campaigned by car throughout Arkansas for the gubernatorial office.[3]

Hillary has written that Chelsea's name was inspired by a visit to the Chelsea section of London during a Christmas 1978 vacation. She said that upon hearing the 1969 Judy Collins version of the Joni Mitchell song, "Chelsea Morning", Bill remarked, "If we ever have a daughter, her name should be Chelsea."[3][4][5]

Chelsea attended Forest Park Elementary School, Booker Arts and Science Magnet Elementary School, and Horace Mann Junior High School, which are public schools in Little Rock.[6] She skipped the third grade.[7]

White House years

White House portrait of the Clinton family (unknown date)

Twelve-year-old Chelsea was given the Secret Service codename "Energy" when she moved into the White House with her parents on January 20, 1993, the day of her father's first inauguration.[8] The Clintons wanted their daughter to grow up as normally as possible given their circumstances, and, to that end, hoped to shield her from the media spotlight.[9] Hillary followed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' advice on raising children in the White House, and asked the press to limit coverage of Chelsea to her participation in public events such as state visits.[4] The Clintons were supported by Margaret Truman who wrote a Letter to the Editor of The New York Times in March 1993 about the damage that could be done if the press made Chelsea a subject of intense coverage. The press complied, but, in 1997, following Chelsea's high school graduation, media speculation regarding her choice of college resulted in heavy press coverage. Chelsea ultimately chose to attend Stanford University. In sum, Chelsea received 32 stories in The New York Times and 87 network news stories during her father's two terms of office (1993–2001). Of all presidential children, Chelsea has received the most television coverage.[10]

The Clintons' decision to send Chelsea to Sidwell Friends, a private school in Washington, D.C.,[9] provoked questions, but her father told the Associated Press in May 1993 that the decision had been made because Chelsea did not like "getting a lot of publicity" and would have "more control over her destiny." Her mother argued that "if [Chelsea] were to go to a public school, the press would never leave her alone." The criterion affecting their decision was privacy, not quality of education.[11] The school and its students remained silent regarding Chelsea, declining to discuss her publicly and thereby giving her the privacy the First Family sought for her.[9] Chelsea graduated from Sidwell in 1997; her father spoke at the graduation ceremony.[12]

The matter of Chelsea's privacy was debated in the press, and most media outlets concluded that she should be off-limits due to her age.[9] But when Clinton was 13 her appearance became a matter of ridicule for some satirists and commentators, including comments by Rush Limbaugh[9] and the comedy writers of Saturday Night Live.[13] In 1995, freelance writer Tom Gogola released a tape of songs purportedly recorded by Clinton which commented upon notable people and included lyrics like "let's inhale"; the tape proved to be a hoax. Gogola defended the tape, saying "None of it had to do with being mean to Chelsea. Satire is satire".[9] During this phase of Chelsea's life, her father said, "We really work hard on making sure that Chelsea doesn't let other people define her sense of her own self worth... It's tough when you are an adolescent... [b]ut I think she'll be OK."[14]

Though her father is a Southern Baptist, Chelsea has been raised in her mother's Methodist faith. She attended Foundry United Methodist Church on 16th Street, NW in Washington and met with other teens on Sunday mornings to examine questions of faith and philosophy, and teen concerns such as dating, parents, and friendship. Her parents joined her at the church's parent-teen round tables. An adult group leader thought Chelsea "a terrific kid" and observed she was treated as an equal in the group. Away from church, Chelsea's social activities included visits to a Planet Hollywood restaurant with friends and sleep-overs in and out of the White House. President Clinton sometimes joined Chelsea and her sleep-over friends for breakfast.[9]

Clinton began dance classes at four years of age in Arkansas,[15] and was a student at the Washington School of Ballet for several years.[9] She was cast in the roles of the Favorite Aunt (1993)[16] and the Sugar Plum Fairy (1996) in the Washington Ballet productions of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker.[9][17]

Clinton was a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist in 1997,[18] and is a veteran of the Model United Nations.[19]

In early 1999, the Clintons learned of an article in the works at People that examined the First Family's relationships in the wake of the scandals and impending vote on President Clinton's impeachment. Notified about the article by the First Lady's office, the Secret Service contacted the magazine with their own concerns that the story could complicate Chelsea's security. The decision had been made to run the story however, and Bill and Hillary issued a statement expressing their regret and sadness. Carol Wallace, People managing editor, affirmed the magazine's sensitivity to the Clinton concerns about their daughter, but felt 19-year-old Chelsea was "an eyewitness to family drama and historical events" and thus "a valid journalistic subject". The article, entitled "Grace Under Fire", was published on February 5, 1999 with a cover photo depicting Chelsea and Hillary.[20]

In 2000, the last year of her father's presidency, Chelsea assumed some White House hostess responsibilities when her mother was campaigning for the U.S. Senate, traveling with her father on several overseas trips and attending state dinners with him.[21]

Education and professional life

Stanford University

Clinton entered Stanford in the fall of 1997 planning to major in chemistry[citation needed] and with an interest in studying medicine,[22] but eventually changed her major to history.[22]

The week before she arrived on campus, her mother wrote a letter in her syndicated column asking journalists to leave her daughter alone. Chelsea arrived at Stanford in a motorcade with her parents, Secret Service men, and almost 250 journalists. For her security, bullet-proof glass was installed in her dorm windows and cameras placed in hallways. In addition, Secret Service men dressed as students lived in her dorm.[23] Other than an occasional tabloid story written about her, Chelsea's four years at Stanford remained out of public view.[24]

Clinton graduated in 2001 with highest honors and a B.A. in history.[22][24] The topic of her 150-page undergraduate thesis was the 1998 Belfast Agreement in Northern Ireland, for which she interviewed her father.[24][25] At the time of Chelsea's graduation, President Clinton issued a statement saying, "Hillary and I are grateful for the friendships and great learning experiences Chelsea had at Stanford, and we are very proud of her on this special day."[26]

University College, Oxford

University College, Oxford

In July 2001, President Clinton revealed at Wimbledon that Chelsea would attend University College, Oxford in the fall – the same college where he studied politics between 1968 and 1970 on a Rhodes Scholarship.[27] Chelsea did not apply for a Rhodes. The Master of University College, Lord Butler of Brockwell, said he was delighted she was attending: "Her record at Stanford shows that she is a very well-qualified and able student. The college is also pleased to extend its link with the Clinton family." The university implemented security measures upon the recommendation of British and American advisors,[28] and fellow students were asked not to discuss her with the press.[29]

Arriving at Oxford just after the September 11 attacks on the United States, Chelsea was drawn to other American students who were also feeling the emotional after-effects of the trauma. She told Talk magazine:

Every day I encounter some sort of anti-American feeling. Over the summer, I thought I would seek out non-Americans as friends, just for diversity's sake. Now I find that I want to be around Americans – people who I know are thinking about our country as much as I am.[29]

She was criticized for those early remarks in the London press and by the newspaper Oxford Student, which angered the university by directly attacking her in an editorial.[29]

But she was described as charming, poised and unaffected by people who met her, and she appeared to successfully adjust to life abroad.[29] During her time at Oxford, Chelsea adopted a more sophisticated look, reportedly assisted by family friend Donatella Versace, whose couture shows she attended in early 2002. Geordie Greig, the editor of Tatler, ranked her No. 5 on the magazine's 2002 "Top 10 Girls" list, behind Jessica de Rothschild and Sophie Dahl.[29]

Clinton was awarded an M.Phil. in international relations in 2003.[30] Following graduation, she returned to the States, taking up residence in New York City.[22]

Columbia University and New York University

In the spring of 2010, Clinton completed a Master of Public Health degree at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health.[31] She is presently pursuing doctoral studies at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University.[32]

Professional life

In 2003, Clinton joined the consulting firm McKinsey & Company in New York City,[22] and went to work for Avenue Capital Group in the fall of 2006. She served as co-chairperson for a fund-raising week for the Clinton Foundation, and serves on the board of the School of American Ballet.[22] On September 22, 2011, she was elected to IAC's board of directors.[33]

On November 14, 2011, NBC announced that it has hired Clinton as a full-time correspondent, reporting feature stories about "Making a Difference" for NBC Nightly News and Rock Center with Brian Williams. She will continue to work for the Clinton Foundation.[34]

Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign

Chelsea Clinton speaking during a campaign stop for her mother in Madison, Wisconsin, February 2008

In December 2007, Clinton began campaigning in Iowa in support of her mother's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.[35] She appeared across the country, largely on college campuses.[36][37][38] By early April 2008, she had spoken at 100 colleges on behalf of her mother's candidacy.[39]

On the campaign trail, Chelsea answered audience questions but did not give interviews or respond to press questions,[40] including one from a nine year old Scholastic News reporter asking whether or not her father would be a good "first man"."[41] She replied, ""I'm sorry, I don't talk to the press and that applies to you, unfortunately. Even though I think you're cute".[42] Philippe Reines, her mother's press secretary, intervened when the press attempted to approach Chelsea directly.[41]

Clinton speaking at the 2008 Democratic National Convention

When MSNBC reporter David Shuster characterized Chelsea's participation in her mother's campaign as "sort of being pimped out", the Clinton campaign objected. Shuster subsequently apologized on-air and was suspended for two weeks.[43]

The first time a college student asked about her mother's handling of the Lewinsky scandal at a campaign stop she responded, "I do not think that is any of your business".[39] But as she became a more experienced campaigner she refined her response and deflected questions on the issue with comments like "If that's what you want to vote on, that's what you should vote on. But I think there are other people [who are] going to vote on things like healthcare and economics."[39][44]

On August 26 at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Chelsea called Hillary "my hero and my mother" and introduced her with a long video tribute.[45] After this appearance she returned to New York City and her private life.

Engagement and marriage

On July 31, 2010, Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky were married in an interfaith ceremony at Rhinebeck, New York. The venue for the nuptials was Astor Courts, a 50-acre, 1902 Beaux-Arts estate on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River. The estate at that time was the home of Hillary Clinton supporter Kathleen Hammer, once a producer at Oxygen Media, and Arthur Seelbinder, a developer and businessman.[46]

Mezvinsky was born December 15, 1977 to former Iowa Democratic congressman Edward Mezvinsky and former Pennsylvania Democratic congresswoman Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, and is one of their 11 adopted and biological children. He was raised in the Conservative Jewish tradition.[47]

The Clintons and the Mezvinskys were friends in the 1990s and their children met on a Renaissance Weekend retreat in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.[47] They first were reported to be a couple in 2005, and became engaged over Thanksgiving weekend in 2009.[48]

Marc was a Goldman Sachs investment banker, and, at the time of the marriage, an investment banker at 3G Capital Management.[48] The couple live in New York City's Gramercy Park neighborhood.[49]


  1. ^ King, Larry; Nunnally, Derrick (December 1, 2009). "Chelsea Clinton, Marc Mezvinsky to Wed". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved December 4, 2009. [dead link]
  2. ^ Bankoff, Caroline. "Chelsea Clinton Joins IAC Board". blog post. New York Magazine Daily Intelligencer blog. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Clinton, Hillary Rodham (2003). Living History. Simon and Schuster. pp. 84–5, 91, 93. ISBN 0-7432-4582-2. 
  4. ^ a b Mani, Bonnie G. (2007). Women, power, and political change. Lexington Books. p. 218. 
  5. ^ "The Inauguration: Shedding Light on a Morning and a Name". The New York Times. January 19, 1993. Retrieved December 6, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Chelsea Clinton". Retrieved December 13, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Chelsea Clinton Bio". AllPolitics (via CNN). Retrieved December 6, 2009. 
  8. ^ Walsh, Kenneth T. (2003). Air Force One: A History of the Presidents and Their Planes. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 9781401300043 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Roberts, Roxanne (February 27, 1996). "16 Candles for Chelsea". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 3, 2010. 
  10. ^ Watson, Robert P. (2004). Life in the White House: a social history of the first family and the president's house. State University Press of New York. pp. 158–9. ISBN 0-7914-6098-3. 
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  12. ^ Grier, Peter (May 15, 2010). "Which US presidents went back to high school ... for commencement?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved August 11, 2010. 
  13. ^ Nevius, C.W. (January 22, 2004). "Just ask Chelsea, Jenna and Barbara: Escaping the glare of the spotlight isn't easy for kids whose dads work in the Oval Office". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 14, 2010. 
  14. ^ Jones, London Y., Jr.; Clifford, Garry (December 28, 1992). "Bill Clinton & Hillary Rodham Clinton: People interview". People.,,20109507,00.html. Retrieved August 15, 2010. 
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  16. ^ "Chelsea Clinton debuts as the Favorite Aunt...". Yahoo!.;_ylt=Amqcnj6Kxf2WEvhpwjZYJBJrWscF. Retrieved August 4, 2010. 
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  20. ^ King, John (February 5, 1999). "Secret Service Concerned over Chelsea Clinton Cover Story". CNN. Retrieved August 2, 2010. 
  21. ^ "CNN Transcript – Newsroom/World View: NEWSROOM for August 28, 2000 – August 28, 2000". CNN. August 28, 2000. Retrieved August 3, 2010. 
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  26. ^ "Clintons Celebrate Chelsea's Graduation". BBC. June 1, 2001. Retrieved August 4, 2010. 
  27. ^ "Chelsea Clinton heads for Oxford". BBC. July 21, 2001. Retrieved August 4, 2010. 
  28. ^ "Chelsea Clinton Arrives in Oxford". BBC. October 1, 2001. Retrieved August 4, 2010. 
  29. ^ a b c d e Lyall, Sarah (March 31, 2002). "Britain Is Becoming, Chelsea Clinton Finds". The New York Times. Retrieved August 4, 2010. 
  30. ^ "Chelsea faces finals test". Oxford Mail (UK). June 18, 2003. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  31. ^ Derschowitz, Jessica (July 30, 2010). "Chelsea Clinton All Grown Up". CBS News. 
  32. ^ "Chelsea Clinton, Marc Mezvinsky wedding details: "Like a family wedding"". The Washington Post. August 2, 2010. Retrieved August 3, 2010. 
  33. ^ Pepitone, Julianne (September 26, 2011). "Chelsea Clinton Joins IAC Board". Retrieved October 7, 2011. 
  34. ^ Carter, Bill (November 14, 2011). "Chelsea Clinton to Report for NBC". The New York Times. Retrieved November 14, 2011. 
  35. ^ Zeleny, Jeff (December 8, 2007). "Chelsea's Iowa Debut". The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2010. 
  36. ^ Marinucci, Carla (January 14, 2008). "Chelsea Clinton Steps into California Spotlight to Rally for Mother". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 6, 2009. 
  37. ^ "Chelsea Clinton to Visit ASU". The Associated Press (via Arkansas Democrat Gazette). January 26, 2008. Retrieved December 6, 2009. 
  38. ^ Schultheis, Emily (March 6, 2008). "Chelsea Clinton Visits Campus". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved March 8, 2008. [dead link]
  39. ^ a b c Kornblut, Anne E. (April 10, 2008). "Chelsea Clinton Finds Her Voice — Daughter Evolves From Quiet Supporter to Self-Assured Campaigner". The Washington Post: p. A01. Retrieved April 10, 2008. 
  40. ^ "Chelsea Clinton dismisses “Monica” question". Reuters. March 25, 2008. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
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  42. ^ "Chelsea Clinton guards words, even with a kid". AP via MSNBC. December 31, 2007. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
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  45. ^ Chozick, Amy; Laura Meckler (August 27, 2008). "Clinton Calls for Unity -". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
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  48. ^ a b Baker, Peter (November 30, 2009). "Chelsea Clinton Announces Engagement". The New York Times. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
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