Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Hillary Clinton's Hardest Choice Still Lies Ahead Hillary Clinton's Hardest Choice Still Lies Ahead

This ad will end in seconds
 
Close X

Not a member? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation
 

 

Off to the Races

Hillary Clinton's Hardest Choice Still Lies Ahead

As her book tour kicks off, she can decide whether the high personal costs of a presidential campaign are worth it.

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

photo of Charlie Cook
June 9, 2014

A virtual cottage industry has developed from journalists who do little else but cover—or perhaps the better term is obsess over—Hillary Clinton.

Every week there seem to be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of words written about her, particularly as she kicks off her new book tour Tuesday. Considering that she is not president of the United States and no election for the job will be held until 2016, that is a pretty remarkable feat, and arguably an unprecedented one.

Now that the tour has begun, and reviews of her new book Hard Choices are appearing every few minutes, it’s like a Niagara Falls of words. Many having read the book or even just excepts are parsing its words the way Kremlinologists in our intelligence community used to examine every message from Moscow to determine the intentions of Soviet leaders. They mostly conclude that she is certainly running, while a few have creatively found what they think are unmistakable indications that she won’t.

 

Personally, I think all of them should take a deep breath.

The one article in recent days that seems to make more sense to me than any other is “Hillary Clinton’s Gut Check,” by National Journal’s Alex Seitz-Wald. The article posits that Clinton’s tour, with at least 20 stops in 10 U.S. cities plus two more in Canada, offers an opportunity for the former secretary of State to test the waters, not so much in political as in personal terms. As an unnamed former aide to Clinton said in the article, “What she’s going to be asking herself is, am I having fun? Am I enjoying this? Do I really want to do this again and potentially risk losing again?” Seitz-Wald then makes the point, “While Clinton is more familiar than nearly anyone with what it’s like to run a presidential campaign, a lot has changed since her last bid eight years ago: She’s older, and the other personal costs have never been higher. Even as she’s clearly leaning toward a run, it’s a chance for due diligence.”

In my view, she almost certainly hasn’t decided whether to run, nor does she need to do so before the end of the year, and the decision could easily slip into early next year. Quite simply, there is no need to decide any sooner, so why should she? Back in February, this column pointed out that the choice to run for president is effectively a nine-year commitment. It takes about one year to run for the job. Then, if you win, you serve for four years, and we’ve almost never seen a first-term president who didn’t want to have a second term, so four more years is needed for that. This is not to argue by any means that Clinton is too old to run. After all, if elected, Clinton—who is currently 66 and will turn 67 in October—will be 69, which is exactly the same age that Ronald Reagan was when he was first elected in 1980. That works out to 73 at the end of a first term and, if reelected, 77 at the end of a second. This is a commitment for someone in her late 60s that would require almost a decade, at a time when most people are starting to think about slowing down and enjoying life a bit.

In the end, my guess is chances are 70 percent chance that she will run, but that one important data point will be how she enjoys, or doesn’t enjoy, the taste of being on the road and back in the fray.

Job Board
Search Jobs
Transportation Planner
American Society of Civil Engineers | Salinas, CA
Biomedical Service Internship Position
American Society of Civil Engineers | Flint, MI
Fire Sprinkler Inspector
American Society of Civil Engineers | Charlotte, NC
Deputy Director of Transit Operations
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Jose, CA
Structural Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | New Haven, CT
Assessment and Remediation Team Lead
American Society of Civil Engineers | Regina, SK
Professional Development Program Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Farmington Hills, MI
Assistant Professor - Water Resources/Ecological Engineering
American Society of Civil Engineers | Auburn, AL
Quality Systems Manager
American Society of Civil Engineers | Greensboro, NC
Rail Field Construction Inspector
American Society of Civil Engineers | Jacksonville, FL
Manager, Quality Assurance
American Society of Civil Engineers | Memphis, TN
Sr. Controls Systems Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Grand Island, NE
Quality Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Attica, IN
Civil Engineering
American Society of Civil Engineers | Steamboat Springs, CO
Commissioning Intern
American Society of Civil Engineers | Chicago, IL
 
Comments
comments powered by Disqus