Even as a first lady, the now-presidential candidate refused to be defined by the man in her life. But as the New York Times reported Sunday, Hillary Clinton's father, Hugh Rodham, had a substantial influence on the woman she is today. Clinton spoke candidly about the strength of her mother in her speech announcing her campaign, but she rarely speaks about her father, who passed away in 1993, in public. Clinton, who veered away from her father's conservative political values in college, had a tumultuous relationship with him in her early years. Clinton's former adviser Lissa Muscatine told The New York Times, "By all accounts he was kind of a tough customer ... believed in no free rides, believed you had to earn what you're going to get, believed his kids could always do better."
Despite his sometimes tough personality, Rodham had a huge impact on his daughter, who would go on to be both a senator and Secretary of State. He gets several mentions in her 2003 biography Living History, in which she describes him as a hardworking, "hardheaded and often gruff" business owner descended "from a line of black-haired Welsh coal miners." And though he died long before he could have ever seen his daughter transition from first lady to possible president, here's what we know about their relationship.
Clinton's Father Was Stern, But Cared About Her Education
One of the reasons you may have heard so little about Clinton's father is that he wasn't always the nicest guy, according to The New York Times. Rodham was a strict man and depression ran in his family. The Times, who spoke with Clinton biographer Carl Bernstein, wrote:
He would hurl criticism at his wife around the kitchen table at 235 Wisner Street. When she encouraged Hillary to learn for learning's sake, Mr. Rodham, who drove a Cadillac, would quip: "Learn for earning's sake." If his children asked for an allowance for their many household chores, he would reply bluntly: "I feed you, don’t I?"
When Clinton was in fourth grade, her father woke her up at dawn every day to help her catch up on the multiplication tables she was falling behind on. Rodham never sugar-coated things for Clinton, so it's no wonder she can now tough it out with the hardest of politicians domestically and abroad.
Hillary Learned How To Play Tough From Her Father
Clinton's father always encouraged her to play sports and taught her that she was equal to any man. According to the Associated Press, one spring he practiced with her every day until she was able to hit a curveball. According to her biography Living History, he also taught her how to shoot a gun.
Her Father Encouraged Her Throughout Her Early 20s
Later when Clinton attended Wellesley and Yale, her father sent her letters to encourage her to persevere through tough times. Clinton once wrote about her father that "Even when he erupted at me, he admired my independence and accomplishments."
Hillary's Conservative Father Loved Her — Even After She Married (& Became) A Democrat
Clinton's father was a Goldwater Republican, but even after she became a Democrat herself and married a man who would go on to be a Democratic governor and president, he expressed pride in her. In 1993 right before his death, Rodham told a friend "My daughter is a real special girl."
They Shared The Same Great Laugh
Clinton wrote in her 2003 autobiography Living History, "I inherited his laugh, the same big rolling guffaw that can turn heads in a restaurant and send cats running from the room."
He Was A Great Grandpa
While Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, both of Hillary's parents moved to Little Rock to be closer to her. They always went to games to watch their granddaughter Chelsea play softball and would take the team out for frozen yogurt after the game, according to The New York Times.