From The Archives: The Twentieth Anniversary Of Clinton And Gingrich's 'Historic Handshake'

Jun 11, 2015

Presidential candidates have always sought New Hampshire audiences. But once in office, the chief executive hasn't often returned. Twenty years ago in 1995, President Bill Clinton became the first sitting president to visit N.H. since Calvin Coolidge swung through in the 1920s. 

Clinted had been invited by Dartmouth College to receive an honorary degree and deliver a commencement address. His visit to the Granite State coincided with that of Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and amidst one of the most intense periods of vitriol between the executive and legislative branches in recent history, the two agreed to meet in Claremont. 

As Gingrich pointed out, it was probably the first time ever that a sitting president and a sitting speaker shared a stage in New Hampshire. It came to be known as the Historic Handshake, as the two men took questions from the audience, engaging each other in a surprisingly jovial spirit. They discussed many topics including campaign finance, health care reform and the nature of politics itself.