Maybe it’s boredom from covering what looks like the most inevitable presidential nominee ever, but in the last week alone we’ve seen two stories designed to make Hillary Clinton’s White House ambitions look anything but certain.
The first came last week from The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza (aka “The Fix”) who set out to describe the “chaos” that would engulf the Democratic primary if Clinton doesn’t run.
“A universe of super PACs and other organizations has been built, and staffed by former Clinton operatives, to prepare the way for Hillary,” Cillizza wrote. “And yet, running through all of these preparations is a current of uncertainty about whether the former first lady, senator and top diplomat will, you know, actually run.”
Cillizza’s “what if?” was supplemented by a story in today’s Wall Street Journal asserting that Clinton’s “closest confidants and allies aren’t sold on the idea that she should run.”
The Journal’s Peter Nicholas reports that Clinton’s top aide Cheryl Mills has urged the former secretary of state to stay out of the 2016 race, “according to people familiar with her views.’
Nicholas quotes others, for good measure. Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, a personal friend of Clinton, says she “definitely has concerns about her running.”
Mike McCurry, a former press secretary under Bill Clinton, insists that “a lot of people in the Clinton diaspora have exactly that same ambivalence at the moment.”
The concerns seem to stem chiefly from Clinton’s age and health, as well as the prospect of facing another grueling campaign and the gauntlet of fierce Republican attacks.
NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd believes these stories “will get recounted and rewritten a few times between now and the day” Clinton eventually declares. He’s probably right, assuming Clinton doesn’t lose her astronomical leads and fundraising advantages over her prospective Democratic rivals.
But this story has already been written. Politico’s Maggie Haberman reported in January that “some of [Clinton’s] closest advisers aren’t sure she’ll run — and some don’t want her to.” Like Nicholas, Haberman cited Mills as being “[c]hief among those in the ‘no’ camp.”
And the concerns detailed in Haberman’s piece resembled those mentioned in today’s article by Nicholas.
Among their concerns: Why put herself through the campaign pulverizer again and risk ending her groundbreaking career on a low note? She could still wield plenty of influence from the outside — and enjoy a normal, fulfilling family life for the first time in who knows how long. People insist her health is not a worry, but it was just a year ago that she suffered a blood clot in her head after fainting.
It’s unclear if these doubters have had any effect at all on Clinton, who has looked like a candidate preparing for a White House bid from the moment she left the State Department last year.
After all, New York Magazine caught up with some Clinton confidants last year who sounded decidedly less wary than those cited by Nicholas and Haberman.
“She’s running, but she doesn’t know it yet,” one friend said. “It’s just like a force of history. It’s inexorable, it’s gravitational. I think she actually believes she has more say in it than she actually does.”
Another called it a “forgone conclusion” that she’ll run.
Nicholas actually closed his piece with a similarly bullish pronouncement from Stan Greenberg, an adviser under former President Clinton.
“There might be reasons she chooses not to run—health and other personal reasons—but given everything about the trajectory of her life and her family, she’ll run,” Greenberg said.