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She the People
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Posted at 06:37 PM ET, 04/25/2012

Will Obama owe Bill and Hillary Clinton's popularity for a 2016 win?

America cannot get enough of Hillary Clinton.

It’s a far cry from four years ago, when she was battling Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination.

In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, Hillary’s favorable rating stands at 65 percent. It’s the highest for her in the poll’s history. Only 27 percent of respondents viewed the secretary of state unfavorably in the poll.

From worshipful memes to insistent 2016 presidential rumors, Hillary is everywhere. That doesn’t surprise some.

Lara Brown, an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University, tells me, “I see her impressive stature not all that dissimilar to the fact that Condi Rice topped the charts among Republicans for the VP spot the other day.”

Brown says that Hillary’s plans for 2016 hinge not only upon whether Obama wins reelection but also upon whom he taps as his heir apparent in a couple of years.

“Although I do not believe that Vice President Biden will be that individual, I am also skeptical that President Obama would back Clinton,” Brown says.

Brown sees U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice possibly leading the Democratic charge in four years. She predicts that Susan Rice may succeed Hillary as secretary of state. But that’s only if Obama loses.

“The Democratic Party would to a certain extent look back to the Clinton years as those that were successful,” she says. “At that point, Hillary Clinton’s service as secretary of state would place her in a stronger position to run for president.”

Meanwhile, many Hillary fans can’t stop thinking about tomorrow – as in four years from now. Even Hillary is joking about it. On Tuesday night at the TIME 100 gala, she joked about her name on the list along with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, both of whom may run for president in 2016.

“The two of them and I have ended up on some other lists this past couple of months,” she said.

Since people are already yawning over Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, Public Policy Polling flashed to 2016 in a recent poll that shows Hillary to be hugely popular. In that poll, she receives an 86 percent favorability rating with Democratic voters. She gets 57 percent of the vote for president to Joe Biden’s 14 percent.

But forget 2016. Say good-bye to Clinton fatigue. Hillary – and Bill – are simply hot wherever they go right now.

On Monday, students lined up for hours at Syracuse University for a policy discussion with Hillary Clinton More than 1,000 people attended.

In a conversation with James Steinberg, dead of the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, Hillary told the students: “Electoral politics is very, very hard but exciting. It’s exciting to have ideas that you would like to work toward. It’s exciting to convince people to work with you towards implementing those ideas.”

While Hillary, in her role as secretary of state, cannot be involved in partisan politics, Bill Clinton can. And he’s also on fire.

Bill Clinton was a big winner in Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary contest for attorney general. He endorsed Kathleen Kane while most of the rest of the Democratic political establishment endorsed Patrick Murphy. Kane won.

He visited El Paso, Tex., on Tuesday to drum up support for incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes. More than 3,700 people attended. Later that evening, he packed a full house at West Texas A&M in Amarillo.

As Politico reported this week, Bill Clinton is serving as a “campaign whisperer” to the Obama campaign and helping them craft their campaign message. Smart move, Bill.

If Obama wins, he owes Bill Clinton – and in part, Hillary – for the win. Will he have the guts to  throw his support behind another 2016 candidate or will the political debt to the Clintons simply be too big?

Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker.

By  |  06:37 PM ET, 04/25/2012

Tags:  Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, 2016

 
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