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New documents shed light on Steve Jobs’ interesting connection to the Clinton administration

Bill Clinton

As the CEO of Apple, not to mention a widely revered tech luminary, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was no stranger to rubbing elbows with the political elite. Especially towards the last few years of his life, and coinciding with the ever-increasing relevance of technology in our day-to-day lives, Jobs became discernibly more visible on the political scene. As a quick example, Jobs in 2012 famously told then-President Barack Obama that the manufacturing jobs responsible for making the iPhone a reality “aren’t coming back” to the United States. You might also recall that Jobs even gave Clinton advice during the Monica Lewisnky scandal of 1998.

With that in mind, a recently granted Freedom of Information Act request put forth by Gizmodo sheds some interesting light on Jobs’ connection to the Clinton administration. The request sought access to any and all materials involving Jobs and, as a result, a wide variety of interesting information was brought to light.

One of the more intriguing pieces of information involves a congratulatory letter Jobs sent to Clinton after winning the 1996 Presidential election.  Included in the letter were two self-described “crazy suggestions” Jobs wanted Clinton to consider for cabinet positions, namely Dean Ornish for Surgeon General and former Intel CEO Andy Grove for Secretary of Defense.


“Please excuse my presumption in making these suggestions,” the letter notes at the end. “I just wanted to make sure that these folks didn’t escape your attention as you make these critical decisions.”

Jobs further championed Grove in a follow-up letter:

Andy is at the center of the exploding information revolution, and he could bring many of these perspectives to defense strategy and its current uses of information technology (command & control, intelligence,…). He could be a secret weapon to change our perspectives and thinking about defense as our nation faces new world roles and fiscal limitations. I have never met a better manager and leader in my life (including Dave Packard and Bob Noyce). Andy has no public policy experience, but he is one of the smartest and fastest learners I have ever met. He was born in Hungary and is a US citizen.

Also interesting is that Clinton sent a handwritten letter to Jobs after he returned to Apple in early 1997 and even another one congratulating Jobs for appearing in a 2000 edition of the New York Times crossword puzzle.

The entire treasure trove of information is well worth checking out. While there’s nothing groundbreaking, it does provide us with some interesting background information on the relationship between Jobs and Clinton.

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.