Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is the most influential woman in Washington--for what she has accomplished and for what she may yet do: win the presidency.
In an online survey about women in Washington, National Journal asked political and policy leaders, "Which woman in Washington do you think has done the most to advance the cause of women?"
Sixty-five percent of the female respondents named Clinton, far ahead of second-place finisher Condoleezza Rice at 7 percent.
In this power-obsessed town, Clinton's influence also stems from the widespread belief that she may seek the presidency again. Since declaring that she would not serve in a second Obama administration, Clinton has dismissed suggestions that she will run in 2016.
"I'm looking forward to working as hard as I can until the end of my tenure as secretary of State, and then will look forward to some time to collect myself and spend it doing just ordinary things that I very much am looking forward to again," Clinton told reporters recently, "like taking a walk without a lot of company--not that I don't love seeing you all--but just having the time to set my own schedule and pursue a lot of the interests that I have pursued my entire life, particularly on behalf of women and children."
"No politics," Clinton replied.
I started covering Bill and Hillary Clinton in 1988 for the Arkansas Democrat (now called the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) and followed them to Washington as a reporter with the Associated Press. So I volunteered to write her mini-biography for NJ's list of 25 most influential women.
Spokesman Philippe Reines politely rejected an interview request, saying that Clinton was too busy. "If she rates the list again next year," he said in an e-mail, "she'll have nothing but free time."
Don't buy that. I've covered the Clintons long enough to know and respect Hillary Clinton as much as anybody in Washington. Long enough to remember her staff dismissing my report that she was considering a U.S. Senate bid for 2000. Long enough to believe that America will get another chance to turn the 18 million cracks into a shattered ceiling.