NY Magazine has a massive front page feature on Hillary Clinton this week—she opens up about the "post-traumatic-stress" of the failed 2008 presidential campaign, her time as Secretary of State, and life at home with Bill ("We have a great time; we laugh at our dogs; we watch stupid movies; we take long walks; we go for a swim."). There's also talk of the complex network referred to as 'Clintonworld,' the fate of Huma Abedin (“Huma has a choice to make,” says a close associate of hers. “Does she go with Anthony, or does she go with Hillary?”), and the rise of Chelsea Clinton ("maybe for Hillary … a shadow campaign manager"). But there's one thing that dominates the piece and lurks in every carefully crafted quote: is Clinton running for president in 2016?
It's not too hard to see that everyone around Hillary—including the author of the piece—thinks she absolutely is. One "longtime" friend told them, "She's doing a very Clintonian thing. In her mind, she’s running for it, and she’s also convinced herself she hasn’t made up her mind. She’s going to run for president. It’s a foregone conclusion.”
There is a lot of talk of learning from the mistakes of the 2008 campaign...and why would anyone learn from mistakes if not to (EXCLUSIVE) run for president?
"She doesn't repeat her mistakes," says Melanne Verveer, an aide to the First Lady who then served in the State Department as Hillary’s ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. “She really learns from her mistakes. It’s like, you want to grow a best practice and then always operate on that. She analyzes, ‘What went wrong here?’ ”
Of course, if Hillary’s future were to be an author, or a pundit, or a retiree, learning from mistakes wouldn’t be an issue. But other outcomes, where executive talents are prized, seem more likely. I ask Clinton the question that trails her like a thought bubble: Does she wrestle with running for president?
“I do,” she says, “but I’m both pragmatic and realistic. I think I have a pretty good idea of the political and governmental challenges that are facing our leaders, and I’ll do whatever I can from whatever position I find myself in to advocate for the values and the policies I think are right for the country. I will just continue to weigh what the factors are that would influence me making a decision one way or the other.”
Clintonworld, however, speaks with many voices—albeit many of them not for attribution. Some of her close confidants, including many people with whom her own staff put me in touch, are far less circumspect than she is. “She’s running, but she doesn’t know it yet,” one such person put it to me. “It’s just like a force of history. It’s inexorable, it’s gravitational. I think she actually believes she has more say in it than she actually does.”
Still, Clinton insists that it's much too early to make any declarations (her staff is also worried about her becoming a front-runner too soon, which, too late!).
“This election is more than three years away, and I just don’t think it’s good for the country,” she says. “It’s like when you meet somebody at a party and they look over your shoulder to see who else is there, and you want to talk to them about something that’s really important; in fact, maybe you came to the party to talk to that particular person, and they just want to know what’s next,” she says. “I feel like that’s our political process right now. I just don’t think it is good.”
Check out the whole piece here, especially if you want to hear anecdotes about romantic dinners between Bill and Hillary in Bogota that end with them going to separate hotel rooms.