I stopped betting against Hillary Rodham Clinton 23 years ago when I watched her crush one man’s ambitions to preserve her husband’s career.
Summoned to a Capitol rotunda news conference by Tom McRae, an earnest Democrat challenging then-Gov. Bill Clinton for re-election, I heard the click, clack, click of the first lady’s low-heeled shoes approach from a hidden marble hallway.
“Tom!” the first lady of Arkansas shouted. “I think we oughta get the record straight!”
Waving a sheaf of papers, Hillary Clinton undercut McRae’s criticism of the Clinton administration by pointing to his past praise of the governor. It was a brutal sandbagging.
“Many of the reports you issued not only praise the governor on his environmental record,” she said, “but his education and his economic record!”
McRae’s primary campaign was toast. Bill Clinton was one step closer to the White House.
The story is relevant today, Clinton’s last as secretary of state, because it serves as a reminder of her immense talent and ambition. Will she seek the presidency in 2016? Clinton doesn’t know. Friends expect her to rest a year or so before taking a final measure of her health and her prospects.
But if you don’t think she wants to be president, you don’t know her. If you don’t think she’s a determined policy wonk and public servant, you haven’t been paying attention. And if you don’t think she has what it takes to win, you haven’t met Tom McRae.
Clinton is a survivor. She has weathered more peaks and valleys than the Alps: Her culturally disparaging remarks during the 1992 presidential race; Whitewater, health care reform, and the Monica Lewinsky affair in the White House; as a U.S. senator, respect and popularity; in her 2008 presidential campaign, failure and family intrigue; and at the State Department, global acclaim, soaring approval ratings and, tragically, Benghazi.
If you wonder whether Clinton would be willing to risk her legacy for another White House bid, let me tell you another story. In late 1998 or early 1999, people close to Clinton told me she was mulling a U.S. Senate campaign. I was stunned: No sitting first lady had ever contemplated such a move, much less one whose husband had been impeached for lying about an affair.
It took me several days to overcome my doubts. When I finally reported that she was seeking the vacant U.S. Senate seat in New York, another news organization quoted several authoritative sources insisting that she was not.
The competition didn’t know what I did: Never bet against Hillary Rodham Clinton.
What We're Following See More »
"Two North Korean shipments to a Syrian government agency responsible for the country's chemical weapons program were intercepted in the past six months, according to a confidential United Nations report on North Korea sanctions violations."
"Corporate fallout over President Donald Trump's comments on the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virgina continues as two more charities announced this weekend they would be canceling gala fundraisers at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida ... In all, 14 have canceled and only two events remain: The Palm Beach Police Foundation's annual Policeman Ball and the Palm Beach County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day Dinner, according to reports."
"Trump administration officials have told the National Academy of Sciences to cease all work on a study of the public health risks for people living near mountaintop removal coal-mining sites in Appalachian, the academy said in a statement late this morning." The Department of the Interior blamed the move on a review of contracts in the wake of a "changing budget situation."
"The Kremlin announced today that Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Anatoly Antonov as Russia’s ambassador to the United States, replacing Sergey Kislyak. Antonov, a former deputy defense minister who has been sanctioned by the European Union for his role in Russia's takeover of Crimea in 2014, will come to Washington with a reputation as a hardline negotiator. He is best known to American officials from his time fronting Russia's negotiations at arms control talks with the Obama administration, which in 2009 produced a treaty renewing U.S. and Russian commitments to cut their nuclear arsenals. From 2011 until last December he also served as a reliable defender of the Kremlin's positions on the Ukraine crisis."
After taking fire for not forcefully condemning President Trump's statements on Charlottesville, Speaker Paul Ryan today issued a statement that takes issue with any "moral relativism" when it comes to Neo-Nazis. "There are no sides," he wrote. "There is no other argument. We will not tolerate this hateful ideology in our society." Ryan participates in a CNN town hall tonight from Racine, Wis.