Who Is Aleatha Williams, Hillary Clinton's Debate Guest? She & The Candidate Are Long-Time Pen Pals

Ahead of the first 2016 presidential debate at Hofstra University, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have selected a special group of people with whom to share their night. The Democratic candidate, for instance, has picked businessman Mark Cuban, as well as a group of four women who hold different meanings in her life. Looking at the guest list, you may be wondering who is Clinton's debate guest, Aleatha Williams?

When you think of pen pals, surely you think of elementary school correspondence with another student around your age across the country. Whether you wrote about the mundaneness of your day, or asked questions about what your partner's life was like, you got to learn a little bit more about someone who you otherwise probably wouldn't have been in contact with (especially during the days before instant messenger became popular and teens could connect to anyone around the globe at any time.) However, as a middle schooler, Williams' letters went to someone a little more high-profile than a fellow student. That's right, Williams' pen pal was the First Lady.

How did a young Williams get into this lucky position? When she was 2 years-old, Williams met Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in 1992, where her mother was volunteering. After, her mother, Patricia, started volunteering for the campaign, Williams tagged along. In an ad from Clinton's campaign, Williams recalls when she was young and wanted a pen pal. Her mother encouraged her to write to Clinton, and Clinton wrote back. During their correspondence, the then-senator promised to attend Williams' graduation in the Bronx in 2008. Williams was shocked when she actually showed up at both her middle school and high school graduations.


As reported by The New York Times, Willams' graduation appearance was the first public one Clinton made after her loss to Barack Obama for the Democratic primary nomination. In the ad, a person off-camera asks Willams what she thinks Clinton got out of the relationship kept up for so many years. Williams laughs, and says she dosn't know. It's framed to show the public that Clinton cares about the working class, and the story is certainly a genuine reminder of Clinton's compassionate side. Keeping up handwritten correspondence with a young women and then inviting her to the first presidential debate when she grows up is a touching sentiment.

While Trump's guests include former military personnel, Clinton's roster (minus Cuban, who's likely there just to torment Trump) is an assembly of women who support her message and the policies she's put in place and will propose should she be elected.