Election Day 2016 may be 916 days away, but if she decides to run, things will start to speed up quickly for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with a book tour and ensuing chain of events that could keep her occupied until voters head to the polls in November 2016.
In fact, the next five weeks and then a vacation planned for August could be among Clinton's last few moments of relative peace and quiet for the next two and a half years — or potentially a decade if things go really well for her.
Clinton has never really stepped out of the public eye and is not one to rest idle, but she's enjoyed more privacy since leaving government. She's filled her time with "beaches and speeches," as she often quips, traveling around the country collecting awards and heady speaking fees (while dodging the occasional shoe).
When not traveling, she's devoted herself to pet projects at the Clinton family's charitable foundation, including decidedly nonpolitical efforts like working to save elephants from poachers in Africa.
She and her skeleton crew of fewer than 10 aides can tightly control her schedule and access to the media, keeping her at least partly out of the gaze of a press with whom she's had a famously rocky relationship.
But all that will change soon when Clinton launches a tour to promote her new memoir, Hard Choices, which is scheduled for release on June 10. In 2003, when her last book, Living History, came out, that meant visiting two dozen cities across the country, greeting fans for hours at a time, and signing so many copies that she had to dunk her hands in ice water at the end of the day to dull the pain.
Living History was released on June 9 of that year, almost the exact same date as Hard Choices, and it kept her on the road until mid-August. That's just about the time that Hillary and Bill Clinton are expected to retreat to a rented vacation home on Long Island.
Following a brief respite, Clinton is expected to hit the trail on behalf of 2014 candidates sometime after Labor Day. While it remains to be seen what she'll be doing this year for Democrats, even a relatively light schedule of fundraisers and speeches that keeps her off the stump would put her squarely in the political fray that she's tried hard to avoid since leaving government.
So far, she's limited her political activity to close friends — like the 2013 campaign for Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe — and family. Her first foray into the 2014 cycle comes on behalf of Pennsylvania congressional candidate Marjorie Margolies, the mother of Chelsea Clinton's husband, Marc Mezvinsky.
After the midterm election, if Clinton has not ruled out a presidential run, the pressure on her will only increase as the political world turns its full attention to 2016. Presidential candidates typically announce in the first half of the year following the last midterm, and the trend has only moved earlier. Clinton announced her 2008 bid in late January 2007, and then-Sen. Barack Obama followed close behind in February.
Clinton can't announce before the midterm, but with so much anticipation and such a strong position, many expect her to follow her script from 2008 and announce sooner rather than later.
From there, she'd be off to locking up support in early primary states, with the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary just about a year away. If Clinton remains as strong in a Democratic primary as she's expected to be, the general election might also get under way even sooner than usual, with Republicans looking to take shots at her.
It seems far away, but the election is sneaking up every day. There may be pockets of rest somewhere here and there, but unless Clinton drops out before then, she's looking at a marathon to 2016 that kicks off in just over a month.