She did not sound like someone contemplating another campaign. “I’m looking forward to working as hard as I can until the end of my tenure as secretary of state, and then will look forward to some time to collect myself and spend it doing just ordinary things that I very much am looking forward to again,” Clinton said, “like taking a walk without a lot of company — not that I don’t love seeing you all — but just having the time to set my own schedule and pursue a lot of the interests that I have pursued my entire life, particularly on behalf of women and children.”
The questioner persisted. “No politics?”
“No politics,” Clinton replied.
She has offered some version of that response for years now, always suggesting that her service as America’s top diplomat will be her final official role in public life. But that hasn’t stopped the speculation about what she should or shouldn’t do.
There was the chatter earlier in President Obama’s term that she might consider a primary challenge against the president for the 2012 nomination. (An absurd notion, her advisers said.) Or, more recently, that she would swap roles with Vice President Biden. (Even more absurd, advisers to Biden, Clinton and Obama declared.) Or that she might take over the World Bank or the Pentagon, or join the Supreme Court — none of which has come to pass.
But what of 2016? Has Clinton given up on busting though that glass ceiling, or will her ambition and influence move her to run for president once again? In recent days, prominent Democrats such as former House speaker Nancy Pelosi, former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, have speculated aloud that she just might.
Guessing about Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions has been a game since at least 2003 — when she began laying the groundwork for a run — and has never stopped. Back then, her friends admit, she had to be coy. Now, they say, Clinton truly does not think she will run again.
The speculation today stems from her soaring popularity — in a Washington Post-ABC News poll in April, her favorability rating stood at 65 percent, her highest ever — as well as from her success as a Cabinet official and from the residual affection she earned during her presidential campaign, not to mention what some Clinton advisers call the “buyer’s remorse” of Democrats who wonder whether she would have been a better president.
Philippe Reines, a longtime Clinton aide who is now deputy assistant secretary of state, described the chatter as mere “cable catnip.”