By Victoria Craw
HILLARY, HILLARY, HILLARY.
It seems not a day can go by without speculation Hillary Clinton will run for President of the world’s most powerful nation. This week, it’s reached fever pitch as the former Secretary of State, Senator and First Lady launched her book, Hard Choices, which is widely regarded as a Presidential campaign in the making.
She’s already said America has “unfinished business” when it comes to putting a woman in the top job saying: “I’m certainly in the camp that says we need to break down that highest, hardest glass ceiling in American politics.” But is still refusing to confirm or deny whether she’ll seek the Oval Office.
So why won’t the self-described “pantsuit aficionado” just announce already? Here’s the lowdown on Hillary Rodham Clinton and what will happen if she does.
IN A NUTSHELL ...
The Chicago native is one of the original ceiling crackers of US politics. She’s ranked sixth most powerful woman in the world after time served as a former Secretary of State, Senator and First Lady. She actually started her political career as a young Republican but changed her views during the civil rights movement and joined the Democratic party before going to Yale Law and focusing on children and family issues in her legal career.
She’s a seasoned member of the US political establishment having served initially as First Lady of Arkansas while Bill Clinton was governor, then as First Lady of the United States during THAT Lewinsky scandal. She made history as the first former First Lady to serve as a Senator and also ran against Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2008 which she narrowly lost.
Her book details a secret meeting with Obama after their opposing campaigns where “we stared at each other like two teenagers on an awkward first date.” He later appointed her Secretary of State which she served as for four years until 2012. She’s since been working on the Clinton Foundation and her book ... hence the speculation she’s about to launch her greatest campaign of all.
COME ON, WILL IT REALLY HAPPEN?
Politicos say she’s virtually campaigning already. Her book details her take on international affairs from the Arab Spring to Osama bin Laden and Benghazi, offering “another forum to promote herself as ready for the presidency without being a formal candidate,” The Washington Post reports.
It also outlines her position on issues from climate change to energy, communications and human rights. If she does run, a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll indicates is could be a success with nearly 60 per cent of Americans showing a favourable opinion of her — including nearly 25 per cent of Republicans polled, Forbes reports. She’s considered a frontrunner ahead of Joe Biden and there’s already a Ready for Hillary political action committee staffed by volunteers dishing out bumper stickers in her honour.
United States Studies Centre Associate Professor Brendon O’Connor said releasing a book is a “classic” American tactic used by Obama, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in the past.
“This has become a standard approach for running for Presidency. It’s also a very lucrative way of increasing your bank balance,” he said. Despite the hype, Hillary insists she’s in no rush, telling the ABC’s Diane Sawyer she would make a decision by the end of the year and “certainly not before then”.
WHAT’S ALL THIS ABOUT BENGHAZI?
Her major Achilles heel is a 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, which killed the US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans at the US consulate in Libya. The tragic attack happened under her watch at the State Department and a recent cross party inquiry found there were “known security shortfalls” that could have prevented the attacks, the BBC reports.
Republicans have seized on the issue however Clinton said it has given her an “incentive to run” in 2016. She said: “I do not believe our great country should be playing minor league ball. We ought to be in the majors,” Clinton said. “I view this as really apart from — even a diversion from — the hard work that the Congress should be doing about the problems facing our country and the world.”
WHAT ARE HER CHANCES?
If Hillary does seek the Democratic nomination she’s likely to get it. In fact, Democratic insiders are worried if she draws out speculation and then opts not to run, it could hurt other candidates like Vice President Joe Biden and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.
As a fellow Democrat her agenda is likely to continue reforms Obama has tried to enact — universal healthcare, tackling climate change and reducing inequality. Professor O’Connor said she’s potentially a more “savvy political operator” than Obama who could be better at pushing things through Congress.
“One of the reasons Obama’s camp haven’t been complaining about the book is that they see Hillary as the best way of cementing the Obama legacy,” he said.
He also expects she will continue strong ties with Australia but be tougher on foreign policy and more likely to take an interventionist stance on issues like Libya, Syria and Russia.
But first she’ll have to convince the public she’s not out of touch. Republicans say her role in public life has insulated her from the problems of ordinary Americans. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus used her million-dollar book advances and huge speaking fees this week to say her recent claims of being in debt are “tone deaf” to average people. They’ve also raised the issue of health after she dealt with a concussion and blood clot at the end of 2012. However Hillary has said she’s in good health and will release her health records in line with other presidential candidates if she decides to run.
This article was originally published at News.com.au