Hillary Clinton 2016? Democrats Clamor As America’s Top Diplomat Looks To The Future

Hillary Clinton faces a chorus from Democrats calling on her to run for the White House in 2016

Bill Clinton had a clear message at the end of last year for the pundits who refuse to believe his wife Hillary’s repeated denials that she still has designs on the White House.
“Take her at her word,” the former US president told a talkshow, after Mrs Clinton announced she would resign as Secretary of State after one term. “She’s tired, she needs time off. She doesn’t think she will ever run for office again.”
Asked again this week, the grand master of American political messaging put things a little differently. There were no plans for a Hillary campaign in 2016, he told a breakfast television interview. But “if she changes her mind and decides to run, I’ll be happy,” he said.
He is not the only one. Mr Clinton’s intervention came amid loudening calls from the Democratic establishment this week for Mrs Clinton to use her time off to rest, regroup – and then return, to challenge either President Mitt Romney or, they hope, another Republican after Barack Obama’s second term.
Nancy Pelosi, the party’s leader in the House of Representatives, said she “would love” her to be their next nominee. Kirsten Gillibrand, her successor as senator for New York, promised to ask her to stand again. Even David Plouffe, mastermind of the Obama campaign that dashed her hopes in the bitter 2008 party primary, said: “She would be a very strong candidate”.
“Texts from Hillary,” a website based on a photograph of Mrs Clinton coolly staring at her BlackBerry aboard an official plane, as aides scurry in the background, meanwhile became an internet sensation, with readers imagining the comically robust messages she was dispatching around the world.
As she enters her final straight as America’s most senior diplomat, Mrs Clinton’s admirers cite a simple reason for this resurgent popularity and pressure to take another shot at the top job. In an exhausting role, fraught with potential for disaster, she has done well, they claim.
“Secretary Clinton has successfully reshaped the American position after all the problems left by the Bush years,” said Gideon Rose, a National Security Council official in Mr Clinton’s White House who now edits the journal Foreign Affairs. “They’ve managed to avoid major mistakes. Most administrations have a few truly major foreign policy screw-ups. This one has generally avoided them”.
In a mark of how relatively gaffe-averse Mrs Clinton has been, few now recall her use of the wrong Russian word for “reset” in a major clear-the-air summit with Moscow just weeks into the new administration. She announced instead that relations between the two nations would be “overcharged”.
Supporters argue this is remarkable given the overseas challenges she and Mr Obama have faced. While winding down two unpopular wars, they executed a new one in Libya without catastrophe. They also managed to appear to back a democratic uprising against Arab dictators they called friends just weeks earlier, without being labelled hypocrites in the popular imagination.
To sceptics, however, Mrs Clinton deserves little credit. “It is hard to say she has been a consequential Secretary of State of the George Shultz or James Baker variety,” said Elliott Abrams, a senior foreign policy aide to President George W. Bush. “President Obama has felt able to lead foreign policy and diplomacy and has, I think, given her little to do,” he said.
“The President is a control freak,” added Mr Rose.
Other critics see far more serious problems papered over by Mrs Clinton’s popularity and media savvy, accusing her of focusing on women’s rights and other personal priorities while failing to persuade Russia to allow action on Syria, or taking a firm enough grip on Iran or North Korea among other failings.
“Managing a ship on rough seas, she has just about dealt with the waves but has had no plans to get a bigger boat, or somehow get to shore,” said Richard Grenell, a former US official at the UN.
However detractors and admirers alike say that by being made to step aside from Mr Obama’s failed attempts to advance the middle-east peace process, and his subsequent chilled relations with Israel, she may emerge handily untarnished by this and other high-profile foreign policy setbacks. At 69 when the 2016 election comes around, she may decide she is past her prime – but will be the same age as Ronald Reagan when he swept to power in 1980.
Asked this week for her plans, she told an interviewer: “I want to do the best job I can as the Secretary of State for this president.” Then, she said, she would “take some time to get reconnected to the stuff that makes life worth living”.
As for the 2016 chatter? “It’s very flattering,” she said. “But I’m not at all planning to do that.” By failing to close, lock and brick over the door to another run for the White House, she will have done nothing to quieten her backers.
“I don’t think you’ve seen the last of Hillary Clinton,” said Mr Rose.



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