Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has had a long career in the national spotlight. Of course, there's a distinction to be made between media notoriety and the merits behind them. Many Republicans have questioned Clinton's qualifications and policies as a potential commander in chief, and whether she'd be a good fit for office. However, in evaluating her résumé, she could very well be one of the most accomplished presidential candidates in the past decade.
Following Bill Clinton to Arkansas: To some degree, Clinton's personal life came before her political career, as she moved to Arkansas several decades ago with soon-to-be husband Bill Clinton, even though better opportunities awaited her in Washington, D.C., according to Politico. While there, she supported her husband's political career, but not at the expense of her own initiatives. At the time, Arkansas had one of the worst educational systems in the country. In charge of the Arkansas Education Standards Committee while first lady of Arkansas, she wanted to further challenge students, who might have stressed the importance of sports too much.
"I think it's time we started getting a little fanatic about math and science, not just athletics," she said, according to Politico. "High school activities don't last forever, and life goes on after age 17."
As the Huffington Post noted, the situation was more dire than expected — and one that would be unfathomable in today's educational system. "A majority of Arkansas' 365 school districts at the time offered no art or chemistry classes, and almost half had no foreign language program to speak of," Scott Conroy wrote for the Huffington Post. "And teacher training in some districts was fourth-rate."
The Huffington Post report went on to mention that the system has improved since, and "even today, Hillary Rodham Clinton's legacy in Arkansas — particularly in the realms of education, health care and childhood welfare — remains nearly as robust as her husband's."
This was exemplified in 2013, when Clinton was honored by the Children's Defense Fund for her decades of work and "dedication and contributions to child advocacy," according to the Washington Post.
America's first lady: As first lady under her husband's eight-year tenure as president, Clinton was instrumental in the Clinton health care plan — an initiative, which, in many ways, laid the framework for what the present-day Affordable Care Act represents, according to the Los Angeles Times. While Bill Clinton was, of course, the commander in chief, Hillary Clinton was the head of the initial task force for health care reform, a decision that was largely based on her success in Arkansas.
Senate experience: After her husband's eight years as commander in chief finished, Clinton transitioned to a role in the Senate, where she spent eight years on the Armed Service Committee and was the first female senator from New York, according to US News & World Report. She was also the first New York senator from either party to serve in such a committee.
In fact, as the New York Times noted, her tenure was met with a rare feat: Republican praise. "Her work has won her public praise from Republican members of the Armed Services Committee, many of whom worked with her on legislation to improve the quality of life of military personnel; they include John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina and John W. Warner of Virginia," according to the Times.
A well-traveled Secretary of State: When President Barack Obama won the 2008 election, it was unclear what would become of Clinton — a candidate many thought would be the Democratic nominee. However, Clinton's four-year spot as Secretary of State was filled with milestones, perhaps none as impressive as becoming the most well-traveled Secretary of State, ever.
According to the Associated Press, Clinton broke Madeline Albright's most-countries-traveled mark of 98 in July 2012, hitting 99 and 100 by visiting Finland and Latvia, respectively. It was such a hectic time for Clinton and her staff that, at one point, they didn't know what time it was in Egypt because of an issue with their BlackBerry's not properly resetting.
"The staff set their clocks to Sarajevo time," according to the AP report. "Several hours later, the reason for the discrepancy was discovered: Egypt opted out of daylight saving time this year."
Additionally, in a January 2013 report by the Atlantic, by the time Clinton completed her time as Secretary of State the following year, she had traveled a total of 956,733 miles and visited 112 countries. "The secretary, despite all the telecommuting options available to her, reinforced the power of being there — in a place, in a context, in a moment," Megan Garber wrote for the Atlantic.
The résumé speaks for itself: Clinton's extensive experience is perhaps best exemplified by the fact that her time as first lady doesn't necessarily come to the forefront. Her impact was more far-reaching than most politicians — and among female voices across the world — which has seen her place on Time's most influential women of the century.
Now at 68, it's clear that Clinton's experience is not a weakness in her 2016 campaign. Rather — if anything — it should come down to a voter's perception of her policies. Just ask Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who had this to say after the first Republican debate in August 2015, according to the New York Times: "If this election is going to be a résumé competition, then Hillary Clinton's going to be the next president."