Although Hillary Clinton has announced plans to leave her position as Secretary of State in January 2013, and has suggested that she might retire from politics permanently, speculation remains strong that she will run for president in 2016. A re-run for the presidency while pushing 70 years old would really be the cherry-on-top of a remarkable political career.
Clinton has had a tumultuous relationship with the American public even before her husband was sworn in as president. She went from being twice named one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” to being portrayed as a corrupt attorney misappropriating state funds. She snapped back at the accusations, asserting that the only way a working attorney married to a governor could evade controversy would be if she “stayed home and baked cookies.”
Then came outspoken, unprecedented first lady – the only one to ever keep an office in the West Wing among the president’s senior staff. She headed the President’s Task Force on National Health Care Reform and testified before Congress. Later, she was a betrayed wife and not long after, our adored first lady initiated the Children’s Health Insurance Program and successfully increasing research funding for illnesses.
Her Senate career has also been impressive. She extended the period of unemployment assistance to victims of 9/11, funded city projects in response to the disaster and made affordable respite care more accessible to family caregivers.
Next, Clinton went from failed presidential candidate to celebrated diplomat and international superstar. She has orchestrated some of the state department’s top diplomatic achievements: building a coalition to obstruct Muammar al- Qaddafi’s mass slaughters in Libya and prompting Russia and China to help isolate Iran and North Korea.
Despite worldwide animosity and surveillance threats, she and President Obama have led the most amicable national security team in decades.
Clinton has rebounded throughout her career, and if she were to run for president again, she would probably be the most qualified candidate in U.S. history. This woman has already lived in the White House, held a Senate seat and made intimate aquaintances with every government leader in the world. It almost seems predestined that her career should end in the Oval Office.
If Clinton decides to run, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a repeat Bush-Clinton race in 2016, with Republicans nominating Jeb Bush, a successful and moderate two-term governor from Florida. After Romney and the Republican Party were shellacked in the face of a staggering number of Hispanic voters, Bush is exactly what the Republicans need: his wife Columba is Mexican, he speaks Spanish and he supports overhauling the immigration system. He is the voice of a moderate, more inclusive Republican party that is still attached to strong conservative principles.
But Bush does carry some baggage: His name links him to a political brand America has long been fed up with thanks to former president George W. Bush. While he would certainly be competition for Clinton, I think her national popularity, international recognition and many successes at home and abroad would put her a step ahead. It wouldn’t faze me if Clinton again ran a polemical campaign on her way to becoming America’s most praised and pragmatic public servant and first woman president.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Nov. 28 print edition. Raquel Woodruff is a staff columnist. Email her at [email protected]