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’ve 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.

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

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

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US 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.
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Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Mike Pence loved to play guitar during his college years.

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

It is unclear whether Vice President Pence still plays guitar.

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Vice 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.
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Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

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.

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

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

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Former President Barack Obama at one of his foundation’s events.
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Reuters

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

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Donald Trump in his 30s.
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Getty Images

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.

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Elizabeth Warren and her child.
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Elizabeth Warren on Facebook

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

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Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

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.

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

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

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WASHINGTON, 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.
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Win McNamee/Getty Images

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

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Joe Biden’s 1965 University of Delaware yearbook shot.
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Asylum

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

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

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


Romney is now a Utah senator.

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Mitt 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.
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Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

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

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Cory Booker in college
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Getty

Booker is also among the potential 2020 Democratic contenders.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a Cornell senior in 1953.

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A studio photograph of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
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Supreme Court Collection

Bader Ginsburg is still serving as a Supreme Court Justice.


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

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George 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)
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Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

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

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Facebook/George W. Bush

Ted Cruz during his Harvard Law School days in 1992.

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

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

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

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


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

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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

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

Lindsey Graham is still serving in Congress.

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Lindsey Graham.
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Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

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

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Charles 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.
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Photo by Arty Pomerantz/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images

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.