Ex-congressman who gave Bill Clinton his first defeat dies

In this 1998 file photo, John William Vanlaningham, 9, gives a yawn while seated between then-President Bill Clinton (R) and former Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt (L) during the dedication ceremony of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport 06 November in Highfill, Arkansas.


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- John Paul Hammerschmidt, the longtime Arkansas congressman who defeated Bill Clinton in the former president's first race for political office, has died. He was 92.

Hammerschmidt spent two decades in Congress before retiring in 1993.The Roller-Christeson Funeral Home in Harrison confirms that he died early Wednesday. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Hammerschmidt was elected to Congress in 1966, becoming Arkansas' first Republican congressman since Reconstruction. Eight years later, he defeated Clinton for re-election, handing the future president one of only two political defeats.

During his 26 years in Congress, he sponsored legislation creating the Buffalo National River, protecting the area from overdevelopment.

Hammerschmidt operated a lumber and business supply company before being elected to represent the 3rd Congressional District in heavily Republican northwestern Arkansas.