Several media organizations are reporting that Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former secretary of state, will announce a presidential run this weekend. That would be a relief. Instead of speculation about precisely when her campaign will begin, voters might start hearing more about Clinton's views. On several major issues, including the environment, education and the economy, there are still plenty of questions about just what kind of Democratic candidate she'll be.
If you'd like to keep track of the status of the campaign in the coming days, "Is Hillary Running?" is an excellent resource.
What's in Wonkbook: 1) Clinton announcement 2) Opinions, including Wemple on journalism and the Iraq War 3) What body-worn cameras mean for cops in practice, and more
1. Top story: Clinton's announcement nears
Clinton could declare herself a presidential candidate over the weekend. "Hillary Clinton will end years of speculation about her political ambitions and formally announce she is running for president as early as this weekend, people familiar with the matter said Thursday. In recent months, Mrs. Clinton has been quietly assembling a campaign staff. Her team recently signed a lease for office space in Brooklyn that is expected to be her campaign headquarters." Peter Nicholas and Laura Meckler in The Wall Street Journal.
One source says Clinton will announce the campaign while on a plane to Iowa. "The former secretary of state is scheduled to declare her second run for president on Twitter at noon eastern time on Sunday, the source told the Guardian, followed by a video and email announcement, then a series of conference calls mapping out a blitzkrieg tour beginning in Iowa and looking ahead to more early primary states." Lauren Gambino in the Guardian.
She isn't planning anything big. "When the presumed Democratic front-runner announces her 2016 bid in the coming days, expect a Facebook post, a video, maybe some tweets. Then it’s off on the trail to meet one-on-one and in small groups with voters in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. The approach — described by Democratic strategists and advisers familiar with her plans — is intended to address some of the key shortcomings of Clinton’s 2008 run for the White House, when she often came off as flat and overly scripted before large crowds. The go-slow, go-small strategy, these advisers say, plays to her strengths, allowing her to meet voters in intimate settings where her humor, humility and policy expertise can show through." Anne Gearan and Dan Balz in The Washington Post.
Will recent controversies follow her on the campaign trail? "Two sources close to the Clinton campaign say former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce her candidacy for president of the United States 'as early as Sunday.' ... Clinton has struggled to explain why she used a personal email account and private server during her tenure at the State Department. The Clinton Foundation, founded by former President Bill Clinton after his eight years in the White House, has acknowledged that it failed to properly disclose donations from foreign governments. ... Still, Clinton remains relatively popular, particularly with Democrats. In a March 2015 NBC/WSJ poll, Clinton got a positive rating from 44 percent of Americans, while 36 percent gave her a negative rating." Kristen Welker, Andrea Mitchell and Carrie Dann for NBC News.
She has a new competitor as well. "Lincoln Chafee, a former U.S. senator and governor from Rhode Island, announced Thursday that he is exploring a run for the Democratic presidential nomination. And unlike other potential Clinton challengers, Chafee appears to be spoiling for a fight. In an interview with The Washington Post on Thursday, Chafee did not mince words when he said Clinton's 2002 Senate vote to authorize military action in Iraq should disqualify her from becoming commander in chief. ... Chafee also signaled that he would make income inequality a major theme of his campaign and noted that even as a Republican, he voted against then-President George W. Bush's tax cuts. Asked whether Clinton's coziness with Wall Street concerned him, Chafee said it did." Philip Rucker in The Washington Post.
Other Democrats are worried about what they see as Clinton's centrism. "Hillary Clinton was once seen as a liberal voice pulling her husband and party to the left. Today, on the brink of her announcement that she is running for president, some Democrats think she isn't liberal enough. What troubles them are her ties to Wall Street and Bill Clinton’s centrist economic record. They don’t like that she appears more comfortable with bipartisan compromise than populist calls to fight banks and other business interests, and wonder if she stands with them on other issues." Laura Meckler and Peter Nicholas in The Wall Street Journal.
LEIBOVICH: She isn't any more polarizing than other major politicians. "To say that Hillary Rodham Clinton is a polarizing figure — as people do all the time — is to suggest that politics was like a big campfire singalong until this pantsuited fomenter showed up and turned us all against one another. Not true. No one person is to blame, or thousand people, or president, or talking head. The country has been divided for a long time and for a variety of reasons: the flood of money into the political system; the perverse proliferation and specialization of negative ads; partisan news channels; and the proverbial 'coarsening of our culture.' Clinton is a product of that environment. She has adapted to it and at times thrived in it, but she hardly caused it." The New York Times.
2. Top opinions
WEMPLE: Flawed reporting by Judith Miller of The New York Times helped start a war in Iraq. "'Relying on the conclusions of American and foreign intelligence analysts and other experts I trusted, I, too, got WMD in Iraq wrong. But not because I lacked skepticism or because senior officials spoon-fed me a line,' Miller writes in a typical frenzy of semi-exculpation: Sure, I screwed up, but not for the reasons my critics claim! ... For decades she basked in the influence and prestige of what’s known as America’s paper of record. She used the paper’s influence and prestige to break the scoops that secured her Pulitzer and other distinctions. Then she misused that same influence and prestige." Book review. The Washington Post.
KRUGMAN: Expand Social Security. "There are some things the government does better than the private sector. ... One classic example of government doing it better is health insurance. Yes, conservatives constantly agitate for more privatization — in particular, they want to convert Medicare into nothing more than vouchers for the purchase of private insurance — but all the evidence says this would move us in precisely the wrong direction. ... Social Security is a shining example of a system that works. It's simple and clean, with low operating costs and minimal bureaucracy. ... True seriousness means looking at what works and what doesn't. Privatized retirement schemes work very badly; Social Security works very well." The New York Times.
HIRSH: Police abuse is a systemic problem. "The North Charleston video, which was replayed constantly on TV and video this week, put sharp new pressure on the federal government to increase its scrutiny of what many experts believe is endemic police abuse across the country, especially in black communities—an unseen decades-old abuse that is only now being rendered visible by a new generation of citizen-documentarians, average people equipped with cell-phone cameras." Politico.
3. In case you missed it
The Supreme Court is deciding whether Chiquita can be sued for financing terrorism in Colombia. "Eight years have passed since Chiquita, the global fruit giant, was convicted on felony charges of having financed terrorism in Colombia. The company paid fines to the U.S. government, but for more than a decade, victims have been denied damages in U.S. courts. The reason? It’s simply not yet clear whether U.S. law guarantees foreigners the right to sue companies under U.S. jurisdiction, even for crimes committed, in part, in the United States." Steven Cohen in The New Republic.
Processing footage from body-worn cameras is a hassle for police departments. "While many experts inside and outside of law enforcement agree that body cameras—clipped to officers’ uniforms or glasses—help increase police transparency and may even improve police behavior, police departments and prosecutors are struggling with how to sift through, preserve and share the visual evidence. On top of that, agencies need policies and personnel to respond to requests from journalists and the public to release video under freedom-of-information requests." Zusha Elinson and Dan Frosch in The Wall Street Journal.
Arthur Laffer, the supply-side economist, never runs out of ideas. "No one has influenced Republican candidates’ thinking on the economy for the past four decades as much as Laffer, who is now 75. Laffer says he believes that limiting government and cutting tax rates, especially the rate levied on top earners, will unleash faster economic growth. Since he sold then-candidate Ronald Reagan on that prescription, every Republican presidential nominee has run on a Laffer-inspired economic platform. ... For the first time in a generation, however, Laffer’s “supply-side” strategies are not going without question on the right. Some conservatives believe that America’s struggling middle class needs more targeted policies today than simply broad tax cuts, and that Republicans won’t win back the White House without offering that relief. And mainstream economists, in surveys and interviews, have expressed deep doubt about whether his view of economics is correct." Jim Tankersley in The Washington Post.