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"My turn."
— Claire Underwood

Claire Hale Underwood (born 1965) is the 47th and current President of the United States, assuming office after the resignation of her husband Francis Underwood. She is the first woman to serve as President. Prior to this she served as the 51st Vice President of the United States, Acting President of the United States, 46th First Lady of the United States, and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Before moving into the White House, she was the Chief Executive Officer of Clean Water Initiative until she handed it over to her Office Manager Gillian Cole.

Biography

Early life

Claire Hale Underwood was very close to her father; her mother stating: "You got away with murder". This paternal closeness resulted in a strained relationship with her mother, Elizabeth Hale. As Claire moved from childhood to adolescence this strain turned to estrangement. Claire Underwood's mother always told her to frown less and smile more but never considered her personal feelings were in the way of her happiness; she just couldn't smile from the inside out.

In the Season 2, it is revealed that Claire grew up in the elite enclave city of Highland Park in Dallas County, Texas. Her parents were referred to as being very wealthy and she has come from generations of ranchers. Before attending Radcliffe she went to school at the prestigious Phillips Academy. Claire was sexually assaulted by a classmate, future General Dalton McGinnis, during her freshman year at Radcliffe. Despite media suggestions, Claire refers to her childhood as a happy one. 

In the third season (Chapter 32) it is revealed that Claire was 22 years old when she and Francis got married, 28 years prior. Therefore, Claire was born in 1965 with high certainty. 

Education

Claire earned her bachelor's degree in environmental health and chemistry at Radcliffe College and her master's degree in public health at Harvard University.  At Radcliffe, Claire met Frank Underwood. The couple agreed not to have children, and in the finale of Season 1, it was revealed that Claire has had three abortions. Through an interview in Season 2, it was revealed that Claire's rapist is now a General in the military, and Claire falsely claimed she had an abortion afterwards in order not to reveal to the public that she aborted Frank's child during his first campaign. 

During the military gala where McGinnis was to be given an award for his military deeds, Claire tells Frank the story behind freshman year, to which he reacts furiously.

Clean Water Initiative

Up until Season 2, Claire was the CEO of the Clean Water Initiative. A charity non-profit organisation intended on bringing clean, drinkable water across developing, impoverished countries. During her tenure, she proved to be just as ruthless and pragmatic as her husband. One example was firing half of the CWI staff due to unavailability of funds after Frank was not made the Secretary of State. Also, one of the main reasons for her even working at CWI is simply to make herself and her husband seem like caring individuals.

When she and Frank moved into the White House, Gillian Cole (despite the fact that she was fired) became the CWI's new CEO, after a nasty fight between Claire and her about Gillian's healthcare plan for her unborn child. Claire ended the argument saying, "I am willing to let your child wither and die inside you if that's what's required."

Affairs

Claire Underwood had a previous relationship during her youth with Adam Galloway. She left Frank for a time in Season 1 and went to stay with Adam in New York.

During Season 4, Claire develops a close relationship with novelist Thomas Yates upon his return to the White House. During Chapter 49, they are seen to engage in a relationship of a sexual nature. This continues over into Chapter 50, until Yates temporary departure. At the end of the episode, Claire is seen telling Yates she doesn't want him to leave, telling him "I want you back.", to which he replies, "I want you back too.".

Second Lady of the United States (2013 - 2014)

When Frank Underwood became Vice President on November 10, 2013, Claire Underwood assumed the role as Second Lady of the United States.

First Lady of the United States (2014 - 2017)

During her tenure as First Lady, Claire became the Ambassador to the U.N., and bumped heads with Russian president Viktor Petrov, particularly regarding the freeing of Michael Corrigan in July 2015. After her resignation, President Underwood nominated Francesca Gerlach to replace her.

After the assassination attempt of her husband on March 17, 2016, Claire became an advocate for gun control, and helped pass a Gun Control Bill to Congress the following Summer.

At the 2016 Democratic Convention, there was no clear Vice Presidential candidate to complete the party ticket, so President Francis Underwood held an open convention for Vice President. Openly, the Underwoods supported Secretary of State Catherine Durant, but behind closed doors, had small numbers of delegates vote for Claire, with the Underwoods dismissing it as "good fun". The Underwoods then convinced the entire Texas delegation to vote for Claire, which put her into serious consideration for Vice President. After the death of Claire's mother, Cathy Durant released her delegates and ordered them to support Claire's bid for Vice President.

Vice Presidency (2017)

After both President Underwood and Governor Conway didn't reach 270 electoral votes, the election for President and Vice President went to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives did not choose a president but the Senate chose Claire Underwood as the 51st Vice President of the United States, which resulted in her being sworn in as the Acting President of the United States, until the House chooses a President. Knowing her husband was unlikely to win in the House, and fearing a Conway-Underwood White House, Claire ordered a revote in Ohio and Tennessee. The Underwoods leaked audio of Conway harassing a pilot, and convinced his campaign manager Mark Usher not to defend him. 

After winning the revotes in Ohio and Tennessee, Frank Underwood was inaugurated as President of the United States, and Claire was removed as Acting President and returned to her role as Vice President.

Presidency (2017 - present)

On March 15, 2017, following the resignation of President Frank Underwood, Claire Underwood became the 47th President of the United States.

A few days into her tenure, she oversaw the US killing of Ahmed Al Ahmadi and announced a troop surge in Syria in an address from the White House. She was initially expected to announce a pardon of Frank Underwood but later changed her mind.

Behind the Scenes

Claire Underwood was portrayed by Robin Wright in Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of House of Cards.

Appearances

Season 1
"Chapter 1" "Chapter 2" "Chapter 3" "Chapter 4" "Chapter 5"
"Chapter 6" "Chapter 7" "Chapter 8" "Chapter 9" "Chapter 10"
"Chapter 11" "Chapter 12" "Chapter 13"
Season 2
"Chapter 14" "Chapter 15" "Chapter 16" "Chapter 17" "Chapter 18"
"Chapter 19" "Chapter 20" "Chapter 21" "Chapter 22" "Chapter 23"
"Chapter 24" "Chapter 25" "Chapter 26"
Season 3
"Chapter 27" "Chapter 28" "Chapter 29" "Chapter 30" "Chapter 31"
"Chapter 32" "Chapter 33" "Chapter 34" "Chapter 35" "Chapter 36"
"Chapter 37" "Chapter 38" "Chapter 39"
Season 4
"Chapter 40" "Chapter 41" "Chapter 42" "Chapter 43" "Chapter 44"
"Chapter 45" "Chapter 46" "Chapter 47" "Chapter 48" "Chapter 49"
"Chapter 50" "Chapter 51" "Chapter 52"
Season 5
"Chapter 53" "Chapter 54" "Chapter 55" "Chapter 56" "Chapter 57"
"Chapter 58" "Chapter 59" "Chapter 60" "Chapter 61" "Chapter 62"
"Chapter 63" "Chapter 64" "Chapter 65"

Personality

Claire Underwood is a strong and determined individual, traits she admires in others such as Gillian Cole and Zoe Barnes. She doesn't want to be coddled and held on a pedestal and mentions that Frank was the only man she dated that understood that. As the former leader of CWI, she held a position of power that she uses for the betterment of herself as well as Frank. When she became the Second Lady, she uses this same influence to bring a controversial topic into the national spotlight while recruiting Patricia Walker, the First Lady, to aid in her fight. She can be just as cold and calculating as Frank, as demonstrated by her decisions to fire half of her staff as well as later betray Frank by helping to defeat an important bill. Despite her ambitions and devotion to Frank, part of her also yearns for a life of spiritual freedom. This is what drew her to freelance photographer Adam Galloway, although she admits that she can't give up what she has with Frank. She has shown to have some guilt and sadness with her ruthless pragmatism, which is demonstrated following her visit to a rape victim who becomes suicidal after Claire uses and discards her. Her decision not to have children is perhaps something she second-guesses, as she has previously shown interest and affection towards Peter Russo's two children. She has previously had three abortions.

Quotes

  • "My husband doesn't apologise. Even to me."
  • "I like irons. But I love fire."
  • Claire Underwood: "What should we serve the Walkers?
    Frank Underwood: "Cyanide?"
    Claire Underwood: "I'm saving that for dessert. What about the main course?"
  • (to Gillian Cole) "I'm willing to let your child wither and die inside you if that's what's required."
  • "I will talk about this if you want but if you’re doubting yourself, I can’t indulge that."
  • "The US Military is irrelevant..."
  • (to audience) "My turn."

Titles

  • President of the United States: March 15, 2017 - present
  • Vice President of the United States: January 20, 2017 - March 15, 2017
  • United States Ambassador to the United Nations: ??? 2015 - November 2015
  • First Lady of the United States: October 30, 2014 - March 15, 2017
  • Second Lady of the United States: November 10, 2013 - October 30, 2014

Trivia

  • Claire is the only person who refers to Frank as Francis, and he is also listed in her phone as Francis. In what may have been a deliberate dig and power-play, in the midst of aiming to end their affair, Zoe Barnes does refer to Frank as Francis. His reaction to this is subtle but clear: no one calls him that but Claire.
  • Claire's 26-day tenure as Vice President makes her Vice Presidency the shortest in U.S. history. In second place is John Tyler at 31 days.
  • Claire is fluent in French as seen in Chapter 30.
  • Claire is the first female to assume office as President of the United States.
Political offices
Preceded by
Frank Underwood
President of the United States
March 15, 2017 - present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Preceded by
Donald Blythe
Vice President of the United States
February 17, 2017 - March 15, 2017
Succeeded by

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