In an interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher released over the weekend, former secretary of state and two-time presidential candidate Hillary Clinton left the door wide open to a run for president in 2020.
Swisher asked Clinton about whether she wanted to run again. After a pause, Clinton said: “No. No.” Pressed gently by Swisher, Clinton added this – which raised my eyebrows (bolding is mine):
“Well I’d like to be president. I think, hopefully, when we have a Democrat in the Oval Office in January of 2021, there’s going to be so much work to be done. I mean we have confused everybody in the world, including ourselves. We have confused our friends and our enemies. They have no idea what the United States stands for, what we’re likely to do, what we think is important, so the work would be work that I feel very well prepared for having been at the Senate for eight years, having been a diplomat in the State Department, and it’s just going to be a lot of heavy lifting.”
Then she added: “I’m not even going to even think about it ‘til we get through this November 6 election about what’s going to happen after that.”
Clinton has been at this a VERY long time. And because of that depth of experience, she knows what refusing to rule out a third presidential bid means. And she definitely knows what suggesting that a) she’d like to be president and b) that she has the right experience to be president means.
My guess is that Clinton looks at the massive field shaping up – and with former Vice President Joe Biden as its ostensible frontrunner – and thinks, Why the heck should I take myself out of the running? After all, if there is any message coming out of the 2018 Democratic primaries, it’s that the party seems to badly want to nominate a woman.
And, retreads can’t be that big an issue if Biden (two past runs for president) and Bernie Sanders (ran for president in 2016) are two of the favorites. Ditto Clinton’s age as an issue. Trump is 72 years old. Biden will be 77 on Election Day 2020. Sanders will be 79. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be 71. All of which means that Clinton, who will be 73 on Election Day 2020, is in the middle of the senior pack.
The bigger issue for Clinton may be whether Democrats are interested in the prospect of her running again. In a September Gallup Poll, a historic low 36% had a favorable opinion of Clinton. While Democrats were considerably more supportive – at 77% favorable – even their support had dropped by double digits since the 2016 election.
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The Point: I’m still skeptical that Clinton runs in 2020. Or that the party would support such a bid in major numbers. But Clinton clearly wants to allow herself the option to consider running once she sees how the 2018 election shakes out. Which is veeeeerrrry interesting.