Her supporters hold out hope for a presidential run
Hillary Clinton can’t escape the talk of another run for the White House in 2016. At home or abroad, she is asked about her political future almost as often as she is asked about Syria or Iran.
Announcing that she will not serve a second term at the State Department should President Obama win re-election has only inflamed the speculation about Clinton 2016.
The timing certainly works. Stepping down in 2013 after a well-regarded tour as the top U.S. diplomat would give Clinton at least a year to rest up for the punishing travel and fundraising of another presidential run. And she would be free to campaign for congressional Democrats much as she did before the 2008 primaries.
Publicly, Clinton displays a singular disinterest. She told Harper’s Bazaar magazine that her plans for 2016 are “beaches and speeches.” On CNN, she said another race would be “like saying if the Olympic Committee called you up and said are you ready to run the marathon would you accept? Well, it is not going to happen.”
That has done little to dampen enthusiasm among Clinton supporters, even overseas.
On this past week’s trip to Europe, Clinton said again she is looking forward to pursuing other interests, having felt “incredibly privileged that I served at a time with so much change.”
In a Copenhagen youth appearance hosted by Danish TV2’s Johannes Langkilde, Clinton said the chapter has yet to be written about where all this change will lead.
“But I also think that, for me, I’ve been at the highest levels of American political life for twenty years, and I would like to be able to just take a long walk,” she said. “I’d like to be able to just travel without having a lot of official meetings associated with it. I’m just looking forward to exhaling and seeing what else lies ahead.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is the latest high-profile “Friend of Hillary” to predict a 2016 campaign, telling the San Francisco Chronicle that “she’s our shot” for America’s first female president.
“Why wouldn’t she run?” Pelosi said. “She’s a magnificent Secretary of State.”
Asked in Copenhagen if having women at the highest levels of foreign policy affects the outcome, Clinton seemed to say it does.
“Most of the time, I’m the only woman at the negotiating table,” she said. “When I work with other high-level women in international affairs, like the High Representative of the European Union, Cathy Ashton, there’s a shorthand, in a way, as to what we’re trying to achieve and how we can perhaps work together to do that.”
She believes that women as heads of government “not always, but generally will be more responsive to a lot of the human needs.” As an example, she cited Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s election “because the market women in the country, Christian and Muslim alike, said enough of war and literally forced the men to the negotiating table.”
“Or when there was a recent negotiation over how to end the long conflict in Darfur,” Clinton said. “The men in the room spent days arguing over who would get territory around a certain river. And a woman outside the door said, ‘That river’s been dry for years.’ Because it wasn’t men that went looking for water, it was women.”
She says there is a clear double standard for women in the public eye trying to balance family and career.
“How can you have a life and make a living? How can you have relationships? How can you have children and be active in whatever you choose? And it just takes a lot of focus and a decision that you’re going to live your life in a way that meets your aspirations to the best of your ability. And then life happens.”
Part of that life was eight years living in the White House as First Lady to President Bill Clinton. She says he took a leap of faith marrying Bill Clinton “and I think it worked out pretty well, but it has been because of choices I made. I tried to be the lead actor, if you will, in my own life and not to be a bit player and not to let things happen to me, but to try to decide how I was going to respond to whatever happened. You just keep moving forward every single day.”
As for the days when her time as secretary of state is done, Clinton says she will do philanthropic work for women and children. She admits, however, there is no telling what else lies ahead.
“Do some writing; do some speaking. I’m looking forward to it,” she says. “And who knows what I’ll end up doing, but I’m excited for the possibilities.”