130 Bill Clinton Quotes

This collection of 130 Bill Clinton quotes will remind you of the importance of connecting with people. In this list, we’re compiling some of his most famous lines from his speeches, interviews, and publications.

Be sure you don’t miss out on some life lessons from the 42nd President of the United States and the author of books like Between Hope and History, Back to Work, and The President is Missing.

Continue reading to find out more.

Best Bill Clinton Quotes

1. “A man is more than the sum of all the things he can do.”

2. “When our memories outweigh our dreams, it is then that we become old.”

3. “The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.”

4. “We cannot build our own future without helping others to build theirs.”

5. “Being President is like being the groundskeeper in a cemetery—there are a lot of people under you, but none of them are listening.”

6. “No one is perfect, but most people are good; that people can’t be judged by their worst or weakest moments; that harsh judgements can make hypocrites of us all; that a lot of life is just showing up and hanging on; that laughter is often the best, and sometimes the only response to pain.”

7. “All America loses when any person is denied or forced out of a job because of sexual orientation.”

8. “Each bloodletting hastens the next, and as the value of human life is degraded and violence becomes tolerated, the unimaginable becomes more conceivable.”

9. “We all do better when we work together.”

10. “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”

11. “People are more impressed by the power of our example rather than the example of our power.”

12. “If you possess the absolute truth, those who disagree are by definition wrong, and evidence of success or failure is irrelevant.”

13. “The real differences are between those who embrace peace and those who would destroy it; between those who look to the future and those who cling to the past; between those who open their arms and those who are determined to clench their fists.”

14. “If you want to live like a Republican, vote like a Democrat.”

15. “I learned that everyone has a story—of dreams and nightmares, hope and heartache, love and loss, courage and fear, sacrifice and selfishness.”

16. “It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you.”

17. “Our differences do matter, but our common humanity matters more.”

18. “All my life, I’ve been interested in other people’s stories. I wanted to know them, understand them, feel them. When I grew up into politics, I always felt the main point of my work was to people a chance to have better stories.”

19. “Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.”

Bill Clinton Quotes on America, the Constitution, and the Law

20. “In other words, our constitution was designed by people who were idealistic, but not ideological. There’s a big difference.”

21. “There is nothing to learn from the experience of other countries.”

22. “If your policies fail, you don’t abandon them; instead, you double down—asserting that they would have worked if only they had been carried to their logical extreme.”

23. “If the stakes are high, you have to do what you think is right and hope the political tide will turn. It’s the job you promised to do.”

24. “Our democracy cannot survive its current downward drift into tribalism, extremism, and seething resentment.”

25. “Politics is little more than blood sport.”

26. “Our democracy must be not only the envy of the world, but the engine of our own renewal.”

27. “That’s the permanent mission our Founding Fathers left us—moving toward the more perfect union.”

28. “Gerald Ford once said that an impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives says it is.”

29. “The freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights and the checks and balances in our Constitution were designed to prevent the self-inflicted wounds we face today.”

30. “This is a practical country. We have ideals, we have philosophies. But the problem with any ideology is that it gives the answer before you look at the evidence.”

31. “Obama doesn’t know how to be president. He doesn’t know how the world works. He’s incompetent. He’s an amateur!”

32. “His knowledge of war has fed a passion for peace.”

33. “And you hear me, you unelected flunky. I only take orders from the President.”

34. “If there is nothing else to learn from history, it’s that from humans to animals, from the most primitive to the most civilized, most individuals want to be led. Take out the leader, and the rest of the pack panics.”

35. “Participation in our democracy seems to be driven by the instant-gratification worlds of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and the twenty-four-hour news cycle.”

36. “Sooner or later, every president faces decisions in which the right choice is bad politics—at least in the short term.”

37. “Just as the women in this book were empowered by the efforts and example of those who came before them, a new generation will be inspired and encouraged by the spirit and achievements of this remarkable group.”

38. “You can think whatever you want, Mr. Speaker, but you should show respect—if not for me, then for all the other people who dedicate their lives to stopping terrorism and keeping our country safe. We aren’t perfect, and we never will be. But we will never stop doing our best.”

39. “I have stood down sadistic drill sergeants, cruel Iraqi interrogators, partisan lawmakers, and the Washington press corps, but my daughter can punch my buttons like no one else.”

40. “You are carrying the future of America in your heart and your mind.”

41. “Everybody knows it’s wrong, but the immediate rewards are so great we stagger on, just assuming that our Constitution, our public institutions, and the rule of law can endure each new assault without doing permanent damage to our freedoms and way of life.”

42. “Savagery in the quest for power is older than the Bible, but some of my opponents really hate my guts.”

43. “The anti-government paradigm blinds us to possibilities that lie outside its ideological litmus tests and prevents us from creating new networks of cooperation that can restore economic growth, bring economic opportunity to more people and places, and increase our ability to lead the world to a better future.”

44. “There is a reason that the founders of our country put a civilian in charge of the military. Because it is not only about military effectiveness. It’s also about policy, about values, about what we stand for as a nation.”

45. “But with no incentive to actually accomplish something, more and more politicians just go with the flow, fanning the flames of anger and resentment, when they should be acting as the fire brigade.”

46. “The accomplishments of the women in ‘The Counselors’ are a testament to the power and promise of the American Dream and are sure to resonate deeply with many young women who have the desire and the ability to make their own unique contributions to this legacy of progress.”

47. “Governments mistreat people—their own people and others. They always have, and they always will. So the people react. There is action and reaction. This is how history has progressed and how it always will.”

48. “They intended to use America’s absence from the world scene to overthrow the Saudi king, expropriate the wealth of his branch of the royal family and its supporters, reconcile with Iran and Syria, and establish a modern technocratic caliphate using science and technology to raise the standing of the Muslim world to heights not seen in a thousand years.”

49. “What does it mean to be an American today? It’s a question that will answer itself if we get back to what’s brought us this far—widening the circle of opportunity, deepening the meaning of freedom, and strengthening bonds of community. Shrinking the definition of them and expanding the definition of us.”

Bill Clinton Quotes on Knowledge, Philosophy, and Wisdom

50. “You can have a philosophy that tends to be liberal or conservative, but still be open to evidence, experience, and argument. That enables people with honest differences to find practical, principled compromise.”

51. “You can put wings on a pig, but that doesn’t make it an eagle.”

52. “If one candidate is appealing to your fears, and the other one’s appealing to your hopes, you’d better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope!”

53. “If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person.”

54. “He didn’t say a word or do an action that did not have a purpose.”

55. “The media knows what sells—conflict and division.”

56. “Scholars call this false equivalency. It means that when you find a mountain to expose in one person or party, you have to pick a molehill on the other side and make it into a mountain to avoid being accused of bias.”

57. “The built-up molehills also have large benefits—increased coverage on the evening news, millions of retweets, and more talk-show fodder.”

58. “When the mountains and molehills all look the same, campaigns and governments devote too little time and energy debating the issues that matter most to our people.”

59. “That depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is.”

60. “Our society has become completely reliant on technology.”

61. “Meanwhile, in ways we understand only dimly, if at all, we embrace identities and the illusion of self-sufficiency.”

62. “The greater the power, the greater the vulnerability.”

63. “According to Becker, as we grow up, at some point we become aware of death; then the fact that people we know and love die, then the fact that someday we, too, will die. Most of us do what we can to avoid it.”

64. “I’m out of rabbits and hats to pull them out of.”

65. “If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure.”

66. “Some of us seek power and wealth; others, romantic love, sex, or some other indulgence. Some want to be great; others to do good and be good. Whether we succeed or fail, we are still going to die. The only solace, of course, is to believe that since we were created, there must be a Creator, one to whom we matter and will in some way return.”

67. “Follow the trend lines, not the headlines.”

68. “The idea that power was an end in itself, rather than a means to provide the security and opportunity necessary for the pursuit of happiness, seemed to him stupid and self-defeating.”

69. “A whole host of functions that were once performed without the internet now can only be performed with the internet. There is no fallback.”

70. “The advancements of mankind can make us more powerful and yet more vulnerable at the same time.”

71. “I will study and get ready, and perhaps my chance will come.”

72. “He likes to wear bow ties so we’ll all know how intelligent he is. Personally, I’ve seen Post-it notes with more depth.”

73. “A lot of your life is shaped by the opportunities you turn down as much as those you take up.”

74. “I have been assaulted by cleverness on all fronts.”

75. “‘Mourn your losses later, after the fight’s over,’ Sergeant Melton used to say. When you’re in the fight, fight.”

76. “Mankind is predictable.”

77. “One thing they never tell you about this job is how much it’s like your first roller-coaster ride—thrilling highs, lows lower than a snake’s belly.”

78. “Freedom is difficult, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep the people in.”

79. “Today, the changes are happening so fast in an environment so covered in a blizzard of information and misinformation, that our very identities are being challenged.”

Bill Clinton Quotes on Acceptance and Love

80. “We live in a completely interdependent world, which simply means we can not escape each other.”

81. “Even when we try to do that, we’re often drowned out by the passion of the day.”

82. “Our willingness to believe the worst about everyone outside our own bubble is growing, and our ability to solve problems and seize opportunities is shrinking. We have to do better.”

83. “Respectful arguments are a waste of time.”

84. “How we respond to AIDS depends, in part, on whether we understand this interdependence. It is not someone else’s problem. This is everybody’s problem.”

85. “Today, it’s ‘us versus them’ in America.”

86. “Someday, we hope to liberate every man on earth from the tendency as old as human history to identify our strength and manhood with the ability to control the lives, limit the chances, and doom the dreams of women and girls.”

87. “Sometimes the ‘them’ strategy is just a narcotic to feed the beast in all of us.”

88. “Psychologically, we’re all a complex mixture of hopes and fears.”

89. “We’re using modern technology to revert to primitive kinds of human relations.”

90. “Surrounding yourself with sycophants and bootlickers is the surest route to failure.”

91. “That boy’s so dumb he couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the directions were on the bottom.”

92. “The American dream works when our common humanity matters more than our interesting differences, and when together they create endless possibilities. That’s an America worth fighting—even dying—for. And, more important, it’s an America worth living and working for.”

83. “And to the memory of my grandfather, who taught me to look up to people others looked down on, because we’re not so different after all.”

94. “And now she’s a parasite, living off her host. If he makes a mistake, she made the mistake.”

95. “People who are smiling—who are content and pleased—if not laughing and joking, don’t look like a threat.”

96. “She always said, ‘You boys aren’t rich enough to afford not to pay attention.’”

97. “I stroke the hair of my brilliant, strong, independent girl. She is a woman now, with her mother’s beauty and brains and spirit, but she will always be the little girl who lit up when she saw me, who squealed when I’d bombard her with kisses, who couldn’t fall back asleep after a nightmare unless Daddy held her hand.”

98. “The first two times you heard me speak, I sounded like a fool. I made about as much sense as a top hat on a mule. I wasn’t sure a third attempt would do me any better, so I decided that I’d put my thoughts down in a letter.”

99. “After being married for nearly thirty years and observing my friends’ experiences with separations, reconciliations, and divorces, I’ve learned that marriage, with all its magic and misery, its contentments and disappointments, remains a mystery, not easy for those in it to understand and largely inaccessible to outsiders.”

100. “In America, racism is our oldest curse. But there are other divides—over religion, immigration, sexual identity.”

101. “Everyone knows that if you blow the opener, nobody remembers anything else.”

102. “I’d never known intimacy so raw and cathartic.”

103. “There is nothing I value more in subordinates than their willingness to tell me I’m wrong, to challenge me, to sharpen my decision making.”

104. “Her eyes drift up and away, enlarging them—a beautiful copper color. It makes her look even younger. Less of the hardened image she’s trying to project and more the scared kid she must be, underneath it all.”

105. “I think about where I’m going—the person I’m about to see—and invariably my mind wanders back.”

106. “May God bless the United States of America and all who call it home.”

107. “Look happy, they tell you. Happiness, they say, is the optimal emotion to project when under surveillance, the least likely to arouse suspicion.”

108. “Anybody who tries to make you mad and stop you from thinking is not your friend. There’s a lot to be said for thinking.”

109. “When we make college more affordable, we make the American dream more achievable.”

Bill Clinton Quotes on Values and Good Moral Character

110. “Character is a journey, not a destination.”

111. “We have honest differences. We need vigorous debates. Healthy skepticism is good. It saves us from being too naive or too cynical.”

112. “It is impossible to preserve democracy when the well of trust runs completely dry.”

113. “All too often, anger works better than answers; resentment better than reason; emotion trumps evidence.”

114. “A sanctimonious, sneering one-liner, no matter how bogus, is seen as straight talk, while a calm, well-argued response is seen as canned and phony.”

115. “Strength and wisdom are not opposing values.”

116. “Sometimes, when people are under stress, they hate to think; and it’s the time when they most need to think.”

117. “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

118. “Each day, we wake up with the scales tipping a bit one way or the other. If they go too far toward hopefulness, we can become naive and unrealistic. If the scales tilt too far the other way, we can get consumed by paranoia and hatred.”

119. “Do as much as you can for as many as you can, every day.”

120. “We pursue activities, both positive and negative, that we hope will lift us beyond the chains of ordinary existence and perhaps endure after we are gone.”

121. “We know we have to face hard truths and take strong steps, but we have not done so; instead, we have drifted. And that drifting has eroded our resources, fractured our economy, and shaken our confidence.”

122. “Live your dreams and remember—whatever you choose to do with your life, you must also be a citizen of your country, your nation, and our interdependent world.”

123. “If this guy ever had an unselfish thought, as my mama would say, ‘It would die of loneliness.’”

124. “Nobody does anything for nothing.”

125. “You, my fellow Americans, have forced the spring. Now, we must do the work the season demands.”

126. “Our job is to live as well and as long as we can, and to help others to do the same. What happens after that and how we are viewed by others is beyond our control.”

127. “Even on the bad days, there’s always something good you can do.”

128. “I’ve learned the hard way that no matter how prepared you are, there are few defenses that work against predators. At some point, there’s nothing you can do but jump in and fight back.”

129. “Foot forward, weight forward, stop and listen.”

130. “Leaving no one behind, left out, looked down on—we must get back to that mission. And do it with both energy and humility, knowing that our time is fleeting and our power is not an end in itself, but a means to achieve more noble and necessary ends.”

Did These Bill Clinton Quotes Inspire You to Tell Your Life Story?

Bill Clinton was a master storyteller—and he believed that everyone has their own story to tell and their own story to live out. As president, he never forgot about his promise to end the discrimination that has been enveloping his nation. And though there may be a lot of people who criticized his administration, he continued to evoke a spirit of optimism. He continued to treat people with respect and encouraged everyone to let the stories of their life unfold. This is largely what Bill Clinton is remembered for today.

Which of these quotes are your favorites? Are there any other quotes from Bill Clinton you’d like us to include? Comment them down below.

Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

Leave a Comment