In the sort of appearance destined to fan speculation about her presidential aspirations in 2016, Hillary Rodham Clinton will speak in Beverly Hills next week at a gala hosted by the Pacific Council on International Policy.
The nonpartisan group, which focuses on international affairs, plans to honor Clinton on Wednesday night with its inaugural Warren Christopher Public Service Award. Christopher, who served as secretary of State under President Clinton, was involved in the council for many years and chaired its board of directors. He died in 2011.
Clinton is expected to speak broadly about foreign policy, with a particular focus on her work on women’s rights, entrepreneurship and empowerment, an event organizer said.
Los Angeles attorney Mickey Kantor, who served as President Clinton’s Commerce secretary, and Robert H. Tuttle, who served as ambassador to Britain under President George W. Bush, are among the hosts of the Pacific Council gala. Other sponsors include Los Angeles’ former First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner and former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Rockwell Schnabel, as well as a number of corporations and foundations such as Marriott International, McKinsey & Co., California Community Foundation and the Occidental Petroleum Corp.
Since stepping down as secretary of State in February, Clinton has studiously avoiding political commentary (with the exception of a video announcing her support for same-sex marriage). She is writing a book about her years in the State Department; last week she accompanied her husband to the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas.
She also is raising her profile on the lucrative public speaking circuit: The night before the Bush library event, she addressed the National Multi Housing Council, a group of apartment firms. The speech was closed to the public.
Her remarks at her public appearances have been largely apolitical—focused on her efforts to expand women’s rights and women’s business opportunities around the world. In early April, she addressed a gala on behalf of the Vital Voices Global Partnership at the Kennedy Center in Washington and spoke at the Women in the World summit in New York, where she called women’s rights “the unfinished business of the 21st century.”
In mid-June, Clinton is scheduled to appear at a Chicago benefit for Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, a group founded by President Obama’s former strategist David Axelrod and his wife, Susan. The Axelrods, who have a daughter with epilepsy, hope the event will raise more than $1 million for research. Susan Axelrod said in a statement that the event would honor Clinton as “one of the founding mothers of CURE.”
Though the 2016 presidential race is a long ways off, California donors from both parties are closely tracking Clinton’s moves as she decides whether to run. The “super PAC” formed to support her potential candidacy—which counts longtime Clinton hands such as James Carville and Harold Ickes among its advisors—is well underway with its fundraising efforts.
Her visit to Los Angeles next week is also likely to draw the attention of the state’s voters, who strongly favored her during the 2008 primary race over the current occupant of the White House. Nationwide she had a 64% favorability rating in a recent Gallup poll, topping Obama (55%) and her potential 2016 Democratic foe, Vice President Joe Biden (45%).
Clinton has so far been mum about her plans for 2016—and that is not likely to change when she speaks in Beverly Hills. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar published in the March issue, she said she had “no idea what I’m going to do,” but looked forward to more down time, particularly with her daughter, Chelsea.
“I have no thoughts for 2016,” she told the magazine. “Beaches … speeches.”