After Weeks of Speculation, Hillary Accepts State Post

Barack Obama's former rival is named secretary of state.

Dec. 1, 2008— -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was tapped today by President-elect Barack Obama to be America's next top diplomat, just months after losing her own historic bid to become the first female president.

Before the Iowa Caucus last January, the former first lady was considered a front-runner for the Democratic nomination. She remained a viable candidate throughout a long, heated primary battle with Obama during which she won more votes than any female candidate for president before her.

During the primaries, Clinton and Obama fought each other over foreign policy, something the new administration will endeavor to avoid. The two battled in particular over the Iraq war. Though Clinton voted to authorize President Bush to use force against Saddam Hussein in 2003, she would eventually denounce the war. Obama, who was not in the Senate at the time, opposed the war from the start.

Perhaps the most infamous episode during the campaign was when Clinton claimed in a speech that, on a trip to Bosnia in 1996, she had landed under "sniper fire." When video later showed Clinton and her daughter Chelsea walking calmly off the plane in Tuzla, she had to recant.

Her campaign finally ended in June and, though Clinton would appear together with Obama just weeks later, resentment among her supporters lingered through the Democratic convention in August.

Clinton has served as New York's junior senator since 2001. She won election immediately after her husband, former President Bill Clinton, concluded his second term in the White House. She won the seat, despite having never resided in the state prior to her campaign.

In the Senate, Clinton held seats on several committees, including Armed Services, the Budget, Health, and Environment and Public Works. She won re-election in 2006. As a senator, Clinton has traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan to get a first-hand look at U.S. military operations there. She is widely respected in defense and foreign policy circles.

Clinton was born Hillary Rodham in Illinois in 1947. She attended Wellesley College, an all-female college outside Boston, where she became the first student to deliver the school's commencement address at her 1969 graduation.

She went on to attend Yale Law School, where she met her husband. They were married in Arkansas, where Bill Clinton would become governor from 1979 -- 1981 and 1983 -- 1992.

After law school, Hillary Clinton became a powerful lawyer, rising to become the first female partner at Rose Law Firm.

As first lady from 1993 -- 2001, Clinton pursued an agenda to extend health care coverage, children's health, and woman's rights. Her attempt to push health care reform through Congress in 1994 would ultimately fail, but she continued her efforts internationally on numerous trips overseas, often unaccompanied by her husband. In 1997, she took an unprecedented trip to Africa, visiting six countries, which led to a trip to the same continent a year later by President Clinton. At the end of her eight years as first lady, her travels had taken her to more than 80 countries.

Her time as first lady was marked, perhaps most notably, by the myriad scandals that rocked her husband's presidency.

In 1996, She became the first first lady to be served with a subpoena and testify before a grand jury in relation to the Whitewater investigation. Two years later she was again under scrutiny after her husband admitted to an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

In 1996, Clinton published her best-selling book "It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us." She won a Grammy award for the recorded version.

She and her husband have one daughter, Chelsea.