What 19 famous US politicians looked like early in their careers

  • America’s most prominent politicians all got there start somewhere, from the military to local politics.
  • We rounded up pictures of some of American lawmakers from their college years or early on in their careers.
  • Vice President Mike Pence played acoustic guitar in college, and Sen. Mitt Romney married Ann Lois Davies while he was still a student at Brigham Young University.

America’s most prominent lawmakers might seem like they have been around forever. But they all got their start in politics somewhere – whether it be their state capitol buildings, their college dorms, or the Air National Guard.

Though some of today’s most popular politicians have just recently started their national careers (and may even be too young to run for the White House), others have been fixtures in Washington for years and years.

Take a look back at what some of America’s most prominent lawmakers, politicians and government figures looked like at the early stages of their careers, plus pictures of how they look now.


California Senator Kamala Harris as a young college graduate in 1986.

Kamala Harris on TwitterKamala Harris shared this picture of her as a senior at Howard University.

Harris is now considering a 2020 run for the White House.

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty ImagesUS Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks at a news conference about President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program at the U.S. Capitol September 6, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Mike Pence loved to play guitar during his college years.

CNN ScreenshotThe Atlantic reported that Mike Pence would strum an acoustic guitar around his college’s quad.

It is unclear whether Vice President Pence still plays guitar.

Sara D. Davis/Getty ImagesVice President Mike Pence on Tuesday said it’s ‘inconceivable’ to think Middle Eastern people aren’t among thousands of Central American migrants moving toward the US.

Former El Paso Councilman Beto O’Rourke poses in front of his hometown.


14 years later, O’Rourke is reportedly considering a presidential run.


Here is Barack Obama as a law student and newly-elected president of the Harvard Law Review.

Photo by Steve Liss/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty ImagesNewly-elected pres. of HARVARD LAW REVIEW, law student, & former community program dir. Barack Obama.

Post-presidency, Obama still lives in Washington, D.C., and is dedicating his time to his foundation.


33-year-old Donald Trump holds a model of the Fifth Avenue tower that became Trump Tower.

Getty ImagesDonald Trump in his 30s.

Years later, President Trump is still known for his construction projects, notably his promise to build a border wall.


Elizabeth Warren became a mother of two shortly before receiving her law degree.

Elizabeth Warren on FacebookElizabeth Warren and her child.

Warren has now declared her intention to run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.


Then-judge Mitch McConnell announces his candidacy for Senate in 1984.


McConnell is now one of the top Republicans in Congress.


In 2017, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was working as a bartender in New York, a year before winning her congressional seat.

Jeff Stein on TwitterAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez tending the bar at Flat Fix in New York.

Two years later, Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman in Congress.

Win McNamee/Getty ImagesWASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 03: Member elect Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) talks to fellow members of Congress during the first session of the 116th Congress at the U.S. Capitol January 03, 2019 in Washington, DC. Under the cloud of a partial federal government shutdown, Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reclaimed her former title as speaker and her fellow Democrats took control of the House of Representatives for the second time in eight years.

A young Joe Biden is pictured in the 1965 University of Delaware yearbook.

AsylumJoe Biden’s 1965 University of Delaware yearbook shot.

After two terms as vice president, Biden is now reportedly considering another presidential run.

Scott Olson/Getty ImagesFormer Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Chicago in November 2017.

Mitt Romney married Ann Lois Davies two years before graduating from BYU.

AP FileMitt Romney and his then-fiancee Ann Lois Davies

Romney is now a Utah senator.

Bill Clark/CQ Roll CallMitt Romney, R-Utah, leaves a meeting with other new GOP Senators and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Capitol on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018.

Before becoming a member of the Newark City Council, Cory Booker was a football player at Stanford.

GettyCory Booker in college

Booker is also among the potential 2020 Democratic contenders.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a Cornell senior in 1953.

Supreme Court CollectionA studio photograph of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Bader Ginsburg is still serving as a Supreme Court Justice.


George W. Bush served in the Air National Guard before becoming president.

Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty ImagesGeorge W. Bush poses with a jet at Ellington Field near Houston, Texas, in this undated file image. (Photo by Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images)

Bush now lives in Texas and spends some of his free time painting.


Ted Cruz during his Harvard Law School days in 1992.

Ted Cruz campaignTed Cruz (first to the left) in Harvard Law School, 1992.

Cruz is now in the Senate —and sporting a beard.

Zack Gibson/GettySen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Capitol Hill on December 12, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Hillary and Bill Clinton during Bill’s 1982 gubernatorial campaign.

(AP Photo/B. Arthur)Former Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, center, and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, foreground, take their places before a press conference at Clinton election headquarters in Little Rock, Ark., May 25, 1982. Clinton now leads in the Democratic preferential primary for governor over opponent Joe Purcell. Voters will go to the polls on June 8, in a runoff primary to choose the Democratic nominee who will face Republican Governor Frank White in the gubernatorial election in November.

Hillary and Bill 34 years later, during Hillary’s presidential campaign.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Lindsey Graham twenty years ago in 1998, three years into his House of Representatives tenure.

Karin Cooper/GETTYRep. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) talks to reporters following his appearance on CBS’s ”Face the Nation” September 27, 1998 in Washington, DC.

Lindsey Graham is still serving in Congress.

Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty ImagesLindsey Graham.

Chuck Schumer waits for the bus while he still was a member of the New York State Assembly in 1979.

Photo by Arty Pomerantz/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty ImagesCharles E. Schumer, chairman of the Committee on Legislative Oversight and Investigation is shown as he takes a check of buses as he times them and finds himself waiting. April 16, 1979.

Chuck Schumer is now one of the leading Democrats in Congress.


Nancy Pelosi during her first run for Congress in 1987.


Pelosi went on to become the first female speaker of the House.


And finally, here’s a young Bernie Sanders after being sworn in as mayor of Burlington, Vermont.


He is also reportedly considering a 2020 run.

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