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.
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."