[quote]Hillary Clinton 2016? Women Look Ahead To ‘History In the Making’
Jan 16, 2013
[quote]After Hillary Clinton left 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, supporters anticipate that she can smash through it in 2016. Paul Alexander reports. Women see in Clinton a female candidate who could not only run for but win the presidency.
The day after she returned to her job as secretary of state following a month-long medical leave, Hillary Rodham Clinton held a press conference, her first since she had sustained a concussion, due to a fall, that lead to her absence. When one reporter asked if she was going to retire once she left the State Department, Clinton countered: “I don’t know that that is the word I would use, but certainly stepping off the very fast track for a little while.”
For Clinton watchers who parse each of her comments for any clues about a possible 2016 presidential bid, this one delivered. “Hillary Clinton Rules Out ‘Retirement,’” one headline read. “Onwards to the White House?” another asked. By the end of the week, despite her recent health problems, a poll showed Clinton the prohibitive frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination and a formidable challenger to Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, in a possible general-election match-up.
Friends close to Clinton say that her longstanding plan has been to take a break after leaving her post as secretary of state before laying the groundwork for a second run for the presidency. Her recent medical episode underscores her need for a sabbatical. At the same time, though, rarely has there been such a palpable groundswell of anticipation for a politician’s potential run for office.
The reason is simple: Women see in Clinton a female candidate who could not only run for but win the presidency.
“When we look at 2016,” says Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily’s List, a group devoted to electing Democratic women to office, “we see this very much as a time to have a woman on the ticket for The White House. The jobs she has done as secretary of state, senator from New York, and first lady make us believe Hillary Clinton would be an excellent president. There would be massive energy surrounding a Clinton presidential campaign.”
Betsy Gotbaum, the former New York City public advocate who knows Clinton through New York political circles, agrees. “Women will be galvanized by her candidacy,” she says. “So many women will be excited, it would create a wave of support nationally she can capitalize on. Right now, she’s the one woman who has the chance of breaking the glass ceiling. We don’t want to miss this opportunity to make history.”
Indeed, the political stage seems to be set for a second Clinton run. “The last election resulted in historic numbers of women elected to Congress,” says Schriock, pointing out that for the first time 20 women serve in the United States Senate (16 of them Democrats) and 81 in the House of Representatives (61 of them Democrats). “We see the last election as a mandate for women leadership.”
In fact, Clinton’s presidential bid in 2008 may have contributed to these record numbers. “Women were inspired to run for the House and the Senate by her first presidential campaign,” Schriock says. “That’s why breaking the glass ceiling would be such a big deal.”
For Hillary Clinton, a second presidential bid would look much different than her first. In 2007, as the strategy for her campaign was taking shape, a decision was made, generally attributed to her chief political architect Mark Penn, for Clinton to run on her qualifications and downplay her gender and the groundbreaking nature of her campaign.
“There is an age-old problem women candidates have,” says Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. “Which is: ‘Do I run as the best person for the job and ignore my anatomy or do I run as a woman?’ There is no clear-cut answer.”
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