Hillary Rodham Clinton, the woman seemingly born to become the first female president of the United States, on Monday again ruled out a race for the top office in 2016 and insisted she is ready to return to private life.
In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show, Clinton squelched the latest boomlet for her presidential ambitions, emphatically answering “No, no,” when interviewer Savannah Guthrie asked her whether she would ever run again for president.
As President Obama’s approval rating has been falling in the polls, rumors of Clinton’s return to presidential politics have resurfaced, taking on the status of political urban legend, one of those things that everyone seems to think is true despite all evidence to the contrary.
There was even a version that said she and Vice President Joe Biden were going to change jobs in the next Obama administration, giving her a chance for another national campaign. Why anyone would want to run a national campaign for vice president after having lost a grueling race for the top spot made little political and emotional sense.
As she has in the past, Clinton shut the door and drove heavy nails into the jamb on Monday.
“I’m very privileged to have had the opportunity to serve my country,” Clinton said. “I’m really old-fashioned. I feel I have made my contribution. I have done the best I can. But now I want to try some other things. I want to get back to writing and maybe some teaching, working on women and girls around the world.”
People will have to “watch and wait” to see what she will do next, Clinton said. “I have made my contribution. I’m very grateful I have had the chance to serve, but I think it’s time for others to step up.”
Clinton has previously made it clear that she wants to stay on as secretary of State until the end of Obama’s current term and then leave. She joins Chief of Staff Bill Daley, who is not expected to return if Obama wins a second term as president. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner also reportedly was ready to step down, but was persuaded to hang in for another year.
But Clinton was in a special category as an insider. She entered the 2008 presidential cycle as the front-runner, backed by the Democratic establishment. A successful lawyer, best-selling author, former first lady and U.S. senator, she had the experience and standing to become the first woman president – until Barack Obama upset her in a fiercely fought primary season.
Despite that loss, Clinton has remained very popular. In a March Gallup poll, she had a 66% favorability rating, significantly higher than Obama’s, which is currently in the 40% to 45% range. Of course, part of that is that she is not president, hence gets little blame for the poor economy.
Interestingly, that strong approval rating is similar to the about 67% high point she had in December 1998, when her husband, Bill Clinton, was impeached by the House of Representatives and Hillary was viewed as the betrayed but loyal spouse.