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Sometime in 1996: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed joins al-Qaeda and immediately begins planning the 8/8 attacks
August 8th: World Trade Center and National Mall hit by airliners in a terrorist attack engineered by al-Qaeda, killing approximately 3000 people. President Clinton addresses nation, saying that "terrorism may bring tears, but it will only steel our resolve".
August 9th: Rudolph Giuliani becomes a household name after reassuring his shaken city. Newspapers publish an iconic photograph of Giuliani carrying a young girl to safety as the North Tower collapses in the background.
August 11th: President Clinton visits New York, and tells a crew of disaster workers through a megaphone, "Let's make a deal: you clean? this place up, and I'll make sure that we clean out some caves in Afghanistan!".
September 17th : The United States invades Afghanistan with the stated goal of removing the Taliban regime and capturing or killing Osama bin Laden, the mission is given the codename Operation Liberty Avenged.
September 19th : Al-Qaeda second in command Ayman Al-Zawahiri is killed by a U.S. airstrike near Jalalabad. His place is taken by Mohammed Atef, al-Qaeda's third ranking official, while Atef's position as operational commander is taken by 8/8 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
September 27th : Northern Alliance rebels and United States troops enter Kabul. Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Masood is declared interim President of Afghanistan, with the full support of the US.
September 29th : The United States launches a week long offensive against Tora Bora, believed to be the hiding place of Bin Laden and Mohammed Atef. Neither is found or killed in the assault.
November 7th: The Democratic Party wins a 20-vote majority in the House of Representatives, driven by a surge of pro-Clinton enthusiasm after the attacks. Newt Gingrich announces that he is leaving politics and congratulates Dick Gephardt on his elevation to the speakership.
December 30th: Republicans in Congress elect Rep. Steve Largent of Oklahoma as Minority Leader for the coming Congress. Largent is seen as a fresh face after defeating former Majority Leader Dick Armey.
January 12th: Donna Hanover files for divorce from Rudy Giuliani, stating that, "we have been apart for several years, and the media circus around my soon-to-be-ex-husband is not something I'm interested in participating in."
January 29th : The Washington Times publishes a story claiming that President Clinton refused a Sudanese offer to arrest and hand over Osama bin Laden in 1996. White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart confirms that the offer was both made and rejected, saying "There was no reason in 1996 to think that Bin Laden presented a realistic threat, and bringing him here would have done nothing but cause legal trouble." Tom Brokaw of NBC refers to the line as a "gaffe of epic proportions", while Peter Jennings of ABC News called it, "the most absurdly tone deaf thing I've heard in decades".
February 1st: Polls taken over the weekend show that President Clinton's approval rating has dropped from 80% to 45% in two days. The firing of Joe Lockhart is announced at 9:00 AM sharp by the White House Press office, he is replaced by his own predecessor, Dee Dee Myers. President Clinton calls a 11:00 AM press conference where he reiterates: "As horrible as the attacks were, in 1996 we had no intelligence to prove that Bin Laden was planning an attack on that scale. We did the best with the information that we had, and unfortunately our best was not good enough." House Intelligence Committee Chairman Julian C. Dixon (D-CA) announces that he will hold hearings to determine "who knew what, and when."
March 4th: "The Dixon Hearings" gavel into session. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger is an uncooperative witness, with Dixon at one point saying "I already hate to be investigating my own party's administration, please don't force me to hold you in contempt of Congress while I'm at it." . Defense Secretary William Cohen testifies that Bin Laden was, "not a name I knew well before 8/8", while CIA Director George Tenet testified that "we knew of the man, but we had nothing to suggest that he presented a major threat." Rudy Giuliani tells the media that he's, "shocked and disgusted, frankly".
April 14th: Rudy Giuliani announces his engagement to his press secretary Cristyne Lategano, saying that the two began a relationship as a result of the stress of 8/8, despite media speculation to the contrary. "Actually," Giuliani said, "we got quite a laugh at the fact that the media got the scoop on us before we did."
May 22: The Washington Post publishes a report that officials with the Democratic National Committee held a meeting with Vice President Al Gore, Jr. in which they "begged" him not to run for president in 2000, citing the "snowballing toxicity" of the Clinton Administration. Gore's offices tells CBS News that they know of no such meeting. A poll by Gallup shows that Rudy Giuliani as the GOP nominee for president would beat Gore by as much as 10% of the vote.
June 13th: Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announces that he will be a candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2000. Several senators and congressmen appear on stage at his announcement, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, thought to be a candidate himself. Also onstage is 1996 candidate Steve Forbes.
June 24th: Texas Governor George W. Bush, widely speculated to be a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, announces at a press conference that he will forego a presidential campaign and run for governor. "I've looked at the field," Bush said, "and right now I think that we have a great leader and a national hero leading the pack by a mile. Rudy is going to make a great president, and I have the best job in the world already."
July 1st: Evangelical activist Gary Bauer announces his candidacy for president, citing Rudy Giuliani's pro-choice and pro-gay stances. He is not seen as a threat, but receives support from National Right to Life and the National Organization for Marriage, as well as the endorsement of Jerry Falwell.
July 12th: Democratic New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, who had been critical of the Clinton Administrations handling of Bin Laden, announces that he will be a candidate for President. Polls show him within 5% of Al Gore for the nomination.
August 5th: Al Gore becomes the last candidate to formally declare for President, amid media reports that he was under heavy pressure not to. "I am my own man," he says, "and I think voters can see that."
January 3rd: Gore declares at a debate with Bradley that he believes that "global warming, in the long term, presents an even bigger threat than Osama bin Laden." Bradley seizes on the moment to declare that Gore, "needs his priorities straightened out."
January 24th: Bill Bradley wins the Iowa Caucus by a 3% margin over Gore. Giuliani suffers a close call at the hands of Gary Bauer, who comes within 5% of winning the caucuses. However, Bauer drops out as he had invested all off his resources in Iowa.
February 1st: Bradley wins the New Hampshire primary by a 10% margin. Gore drops out of the race.