Simon Williamson

Clinton eyeing 2016, surely

2013-08-16 07:55

Simon Williamson

I am aware the next US presidential election is three and a half years away, and that any speculation now can change in that time.

But the personality and prospective candidacy of Hillary Clinton is hard to ignore, especially as two events this week seem electorally significant. The first was an interview with clownish New York City Democratic candidate for mayor Anthony Weiner, husband of Hillary confidante Huma Abedin. During the interview, Buzzfeed's Ben Smith asked Weiner, "Do you know what [Abedin's] role in Hillary's 2016 campaign is going to be?"

"I do," replied Weiner.

"What will it be?" pressed Smith.

Weiner: "I'm not telling you."

Abedin is likely the closest person to Hillary Clinton who isn't an immediate relative. If anyone knows what is potting in 2016 it is she.

And although Team Hillary rubbished the tsunami of speculation elicited by this Weiner comment, it is yet another piece of the jigsaw that points to Clinton obviously running in the next presidential election.

Staying relevant

The other signal dropped this last week was a speech Clinton made in San Francisco on Monday, where she blasted the decision by the Supreme Court earlier this year to strike down a major part of the Civil Rights-era Voting Rights Act, which specifically protected the right of black people to vote in parts of the country where they faced blatant and legislated discrimination.

Now, why would Clinton be making such remarks? Of course she probably agrees with the sentiment of her speech, but this also had the added benefits of keeping her in a relevant news cycle, as well as firming up support of a key Democratic constituency she will need for both the party primary and general election.

It's also an indication Clinton won't be beaten on her left flank like in 2008, where she looked to be the de facto nominee until a young Chicago senator with an odd name won huge liberal and African-American support. While making sure she is publicly on the side of the voting rights of poor and minority voters - currently a hot topic in the US - she has also declared her support for gay marriage, and will be making another speech in Philadelphia about national security policies next month - you can read that as commenting on the Edward-Snowden-National-Security-Agency-government-spying fracas.

The most notorious advantage Barack Obama had in 2008 over Clinton - her vote for the Iraq War - will be somewhat mitigated by it ending while she was Secretary of State, and being another eight years further back in history. The niche carved out for a populist campaign such as the one Obama ran after eight years of George W Bush is also yet to show it is going to open up - likely largely due to Obama's inability to follow up on his populist message five years ago. Certainly none of the names being thrown around as possible Democratic contenders against Clinton - Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo or Vice President Joe Biden- have track records suggesting a populist campaign is a realistic adventure. (The odd publication is throwing the name of uber-liberal Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren around but her capacity to win a general election is limited.)

Phenomenal polling

When contrasted with those names, it is patently obvious why Clinton is likely to run: she is even more likely to win the nomination in 2016 than she was in 2008. Her polling is simply phenomenal, and the liberal wing of the Democratic Party seems to be in her corner this time around.

This is no indication of general election success - in spite of polling showing she is competitive in states like Louisiana, I'd be very surprised if a state like that remains within grasp of an establishment Democrat after a full campaign cycle. Republicans also have a formidable list of possible candidates, and Clinton may not be properly tested or vetted in a competitive Democratic primary if other candidates cower in fear and decide not to run.

As I mentioned earlier, this could all change in the next three years, which, in politics, is the Cretaceous Period. But there is ample reason to believe Clinton is making moves try and make sure it doesn’t.

- Simon Williamson is a freelance writer. Follow @simonwillo on Twitter.

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Read more on:    anthony weiner  |  hillary clinton  |  barack obama
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