Politics 2014: Nobody's sayin' nuthin' about runnin'

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International   |   Aug. 4, 2013 at 4:32 AM   |   0 comments

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's social schedule last week added more fuel to the political flames about her future and possible designs on the White House.

Will she or won't she? Only Hillary Clinton knows for sure.

Twice last week she went to the White House to meet with two of her 2008 presidential rivals -- President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Obama invited Clinton, who was his secretary of state, to lunch to renew their friendship, the White House said.

Ditto when word came down she was having breakfast with Biden -- who also is rumored to be considering another run at the presidency in 2016.

Six months after leaving her post at the State Department -- and denying she was interested in trying for the White House again -- Clinton still dominates potential presidential candidates, including Biden, in polls on a possible 2016 Democratic field.

And even though she's been mum on the subject, others are speaking out, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Her life is being brought to the small screen, with NBC announcing it ordered a four-hour miniseries on Clinton with film star Diane Lane cast as the former first lady and one-time U.S. senator from New York. CNN Films also announced it commissioned a feature-length documentary on Clinton.

After making a foray into Twitterverse recently, Clinton has more than 651,000 followers.

Clinton also is writing a memoir expected to be on the shelves and ereaders next year.

Democratic strategists and observers say it's virtually impossible Clinton's lunch with Obama didn't have some sort of political heft, The Hill reported.

"Both of them know the importance of 2016 to the Democratic Party," said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University. "For the president, if he's followed by a member of his own party, his legacy is enhanced. If he is followed by a member of the opposition party, his legacy is eviscerated, so he has much interest in how it will play out."

Should she make another run -- and, again, so far she hasn't announced -- Clinton likely learned some lessons from her aborted 2008 campaign, which relied on traditional fundraising and campaign strategies while Obama tapped into the Internet and reached out to those who were turned off by traditional politics.

Back in 2008, candidate Obama was seen as more likable than Clinton by the voters. Now it's reversed.

And while it's too soon to ask, Clinton wouldn't mind having access to the president's fundraising and email lists, The Hill said.

"She doesn't want to run against the Obama organization," Democratic strategist Tad Devine said. "Once was enough."

"His campaign was probably the decisive factor in his winning the nomination, winning the general election, and then turning back a challenge from Mitt Romney," Devine told The Hill. "It's a proven campaign organization with people, with fundraisers, with new technology they're pioneering, and she certainly wants to plug into that."

Just because Clinton hasn't said anything, though, doesn't mean fundraising for a potential run as been idle. A political action committee supporting a potential Clinton campaign in 2016 already indicated it would rely on Obama's campaign talent, hiring Jeremy Bird, Obama's national field director, and Mitch Stewart, who oversaw the president's swing-state operation, earlier this month.

CBS News confirmed the Ready for Hillary super PAC already has raised more than $1 million.

Even though she out of public office, Clinton is not out of the public eye as she has joined the speaker's circuit and still weighs in on high-profile issues.

And, again, there's the potential Biden factor, should he choose to run.

"Obama has been well served by Biden, and he's the obvious alternative that would make any conversation today preliminary," Jillson said. "I would be surprised if he contests for the nomination with Clinton, but you can't rule it out. And because you can't rule it out, Obama has to be careful in his thinking and his preparation."

While Clinton has avoided talking about her future, Biden left the door open in a recent interview with GQ.

"The judgment I'll make is, first of all, am I still as full of as much energy as I have now -- do I feel this?" he said. "No. 2, do I think I'm the best person in the position to move the ball? And, you know, we'll see where the hell I am."

Not all of the ink and bandwidth devoted to Clinton has been favorable. Oft-candidate Ralph Nader says someone should challenge her from the left, should she seek the 2016 Democratic nod.

"Somebody must challenge from the left, because, I mean, Hillary Clinton, who started out as a progressive out of Yale Law School and Wellesley, she's become almost the poster child for the military-industrial complex," Nader said in an online interview with MSNBC.

"She hugs Kissinger; she hobnobs with [economist and banking executive] Bob Rubin and the Wall Street crowd -- I mean it's almost a caricature," said Nader, who some blame for Al Gore's loss to George W. Bush. "But you know on social issues, like pro-choice, children's issues, you know she keeps that liberal sheen."

Still with decades of being in the public eye, Hillary Clinton knows about how to manage the spotlight, insiders told ABC News.

"It's hard to imagine Hillary Clinton being more exposed; that's been the way she's lived her life for decades," said one former adviser of Clinton's 2008 campaign. "Of course you don't want random b-list, c-list, home- grown things like this propping up if they're inaccurate, but Hillary Clinton as a brand has always been pretty accepting of other uses. I don't think that's something she's looked unkindly toward as long as it's accurate."

But years living in a fishbowl also give Clinton's detractors the chance to throw water on her name.

For instance, there are unflattering comparisons being made between the Clintons and former Rep. Andrew Weiner, who's seeking the Democratic nomination in New York's mayoral race. The Clintons both were irked and have let their dismay be known through their supporters and surrogates.

Weiner left Congress in disgrace following a sexting scandal. He recently revealed he had continued sexting even after he said he had stopped. His wife, Huma Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide in the State Department, has stood by him -- drawing the inevitable comparison to Hillary Clinton standing by her husband when word of his infidelity broke.

However, when her husband confessed to an affair with Monica Lewinsky, Hillary Clinton did not join him and her office said she had been "misled" but was "committed to her marriage."

Also unlike Abedin, Clinton never brought her decision to forgive her husband into a political campaign -- his affair came to light during his second term and he never ran for office again.

"Therein lies the Democrats' problem. Therein lies Hillary Clinton's problem," wrote National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring in an email to reporters. "Their entire electoral strategy requires utilizing the 'War on Women' playbook, but every individual transgression is a reminder that most parents couldn't trust Bill Clinton -- the most powerful Democratic fundraiser and surrogate-in-chief for 2014 -- in a room alone with their 21-year-old daughter."

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