What Trump, Clinton, Sanders and Every Other 2016 Presidential Candidate Were Doing at Age 30

Hillary was in Arkansas, Bernie was beginning his political career, and Trump was being Trump.

March 15, 2016

What do Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich have in common?

They were all once 30-years-old.

And while each of them celebrated – or cried about – their 20s coming to a close at different points in time, the careers and lives they were leading at age 30 offer a glimpse of who they’d later become.

Here’s what all six remaining candidates were up to long before they were making headlines on a daily basis.

Hillary Clinton


What year was it?


Where was she?

Living with her husband, Bill, in Little Rock, AR. They had married two years earlier in Fayetteville, moving to Little Rock after Bill was elected attorney general of Arkansas.

The Clintons' house in Little Rock.

The Clintons’ house in Little Rock, AR.

What was she doing?

Hillary was putting her Yale law degree to good use, working for the Rose Law Firm, one of the oldest law firms west of the Mississippi River. There, she became involved in intellectual property law.

However, her primary focus remained in the area of children’s rights, and she helped found the non-profit Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families that year.

Also in 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed Clinton to the board of directors of the Legal Services Corporation, a federally-funded program that provides legal assistance to the poor.

She would become Arkansas’ first lady a year later when Bill was elected governor.

Bernie Sanders


What year was it?


Where was he?

Living in Vermont at the height of its counterculture movement after moving from New York City three years earlier.

Sanders' activism dated back to his days at the University of Chicago.

Sanders brought his passion for activisim from the University of Chicago (above) to Vermont.

What was he doing?

Bernie Sanders’ political career began on October 23, 1971 in Plainfield, VT, in the library of Goddard College. The Liberty Union Party was looking for someone to run for U.S. Senate, and a curly-haired man with thick-rimmed glasses raised his hand.

He’d go on to run as the Liberty Union candidate for governor of Vermont in 1972 and 1976 and as a candidate for U.S. senator in 1972 and 1974.

In 1981, ten years after raising his hand in a college library, Sanders was elected mayor of Burlington, VT.

Donald Trump


What year was it?


Where was he?

Living in New York City – in his three-bedroom penthouse apartment at 160 East 65th Street, to be more specific.

Trump, in the living room of his penthouse apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Trump, in the living room of his penthouse apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

What was he doing?

Trump was just getting started in the New York real estate game, but thanks in large part to his father, his net worth around this time was already $200 million, the equivalent of about $1 billion today.

Here’s an excerpt from a New York Times piece on Trump that year:

He is tall, lean and blond, with dazzling white teeth, and he looks ever so much like Robert Redford. He rides around town in a chauffeured silver Cadillac with his initials, DJT, on the plates. He dates slinky fashion models, belongs to the most elegant clubs and, at only 30 years of age, estimates that he is worth ‘more than $200 million.’

Robert Redford, huh?

Ted Cruz


What year was it?


Where was he?

Cruz spent his most important days as a 30-year-old at the Republican Headquarters in Tallahassee, FL, working on the Bush legal team during the 2000 Florida presidential recounts.

Cruz, seen in the background to the right, during a hearing in which lawyers for George W. Bush and Al Gore argued their case.

Cruz, seen in the background to the right, during a hearing in which lawyers for George W. Bush and Al Gore argued their cases.

What was he doing?

Cruz had joined George W. Bush’s presidential campaign as a domestic policy advisor in 1999, but in 2000 he was sent to Florida to join Bush’s legal team during the “hanging chad” situation.

Though the level of his involvement has been questioned, this was a big moment in Cruz’s career and helped him land a job with the Bush administration.

Marco Rubio


What year was it?


Where was he?

Miami, FL.

What was he doing?

Rubio was serving in the Florida House of Representatives during this time. A year later, he’d win re-election for a second term and be appointed House Majority Leader.

John Kasich


What year was it?


Where was he?

All over Ohio, campaigning.

Kasich in front of an advertisement for his 1982 campaign.

Kasich in front of an advertisement for his 1982 campaign.

What was he doing?

Four years earlier, in 1978, Kasich had run for senator in Ohio’s 15th district and won, making him the youngest person ever elected to the Ohio Senate (26-years-old).

In 1982, he ran for Congress, this time in Ohio’s 12th district, which includes portions of Columbus and other surrounding cities. The result? Another John Kasich victory.

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Kendall BakerKendall Baker // The Hustle
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