Hillary 2020?

Hillary Clinton is hinting about maybe running in 2020 again. Is she serious, or is this just a publicity stunt?

With the midterm elections heading into their final week, attention is already turning to the 2020 election and what is likely to be a hard-fought race for the Democratic nomination to face-off against Donald Trump two years from now. We’ve already seen a number of names popping up, including familiar names such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris and unfamiliar ones like Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, and even Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti. Now, there’s likely to be a new round of speculation about the Presidential ambitions of another blast from the recent past, Hillary Clinton:

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during an event over the weekend left the door open to a possible 2020 run, saying that even though she doesn’t want to run, “I’d like to be president.”

Clinton’s comments come as speculation has increased over whether she will launch another bid after the midterm elections.

“Do you want to run again?” Recode’s Kara Swisher asked during a Friday night Q&A with Clinton.

“No,” Clinton replied quickly, sparking laughter from the audience. But when Swisher pressed her further, she added: “I’d like to be president.”

Clinton went on to say that “there’s going to be so much work to be done” after a Democrat “hopefully” wins the next presidential election.

“The work would be work that I feel very well prepared for having been in the Senate for eight years, having been a diplomat in the State Department,” she said, listing off the qualifications that she often touted during her previous run.

She added that she’s not going to think about a possible run until after the upcoming midterm elections.

Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, announced this month that they will be embarking on a 13-city tour over the next year, hosting discussions about current events and politics across the country.

Clinton in September released a few afterward for her campaign memoir, “What Happened,” criticizing the Trump administration’s policies and expressing concern that the nation’s democracy is “in crisis.”

She has stepped up her presence in the national spotlight, appearing in media interviews with greater frequency to criticize the GOP and President Trump.

Longtime Clinton aide Philippe Reines in a Politico profile earlier this month said there is a “not zero” chance that the former Secretary of State will run against Trump.

“It’s curious why Hillary Clinton’s name isn’t in the mix—either conversationally or in formal polling—as a 2020 candidate,” Reines told Politico. “She’s younger than Donald Trump by a year. She’s younger than Joe Biden by four years. Is it that she’s run before? This would be Bernie Sanders’s second time, and Biden’s third time. Is it lack of support? She had 65 million people vote for her.”

This speculation comes notwithstanding the fact that when she was on her post-election book tour last year, Clinton appeared to make it clear that she was done running for office. As I noted at the time, this was hardly a surprising announcement on Clinton’s part. With the possible exception of Joe Biden, few people who have lost campaigns for President have managed to make a successful political comeback, and Clinton’s losses in 2008 and 2012 both came in situations where, at least at the start, it seemed as though there was no way she could lose. The situation in 2008 was far different from what happened last year in that Clinton had merely come in a very close second in a race for the Democratic nomination with the candidate who ultimately went on to win the Presidency. In 2016, though, Clinton entered the club of candidates who lost a General Election and did so notwithstanding the fact that, right up until the night before the election, nearly everyone in the country expected her to win handily. With the exception of Thomas Dewey, Adlai Stevenson, and Richard Nixon, nobody in recent American history who has lost a General Election for President has managed to make a significant political comeback of any kind, and none of them have managed to win the nomination of their party again. Additionally, Clinton would be 73 years old in 2020, making it seem unlikely that she would be in the mood to launch another grueling campaign for her party’s nomination and, if she won, a General Election Finally, the ongoing ideological battle inside the Democratic Party seems to be turning decidedly against the center-left position that Clinton represents and the resentment over her treatment of Bernie Sanders during last years primary would likely mean that her reception in the party would not be nearly as rapturous as it was in 2008 and 2016.

All this being true, what’s to explain Clinton keeping the door open in this manner, and how might a third Clinton bid for the White House be received by Democrats?

On the first count, part of the answer lies in the fact that Clinton is just being Clinton. As noted, she and her husband are set to begin an ambitious self-promoting tour of the country during which they’ll be engaging in speeches about, well, who knows what. If there’s a question mark hanging over Hillary as a potential 2020 candidate, that is only going to increase the interest of members of the public and the media in what the Clintons have to say, which is likely to inure to their financial benefit in the years to come. Even if she doesn’t end up running, and I honestly think that this is what she’ll ultimately decide to do, keeping that speculation open means that the public and political pundits would be paying more attention to her and her husband. It is, in other words, classic Clinton behavior and they are betting on the fact that the news media, the pundits, and the rest of us, will fall for it. And they’re probably right.

Additionally, I think it’s true that, on some level, Clinton really does still want to be President. Heck, she’s made no secret of that fact ever since becoming a Senator, and arguably long before that during the final years of her husband’s Presidency. Twice she’s run, and twice she’s lost to candidates that she no doubt were far beneath her. The idea of trying again has no doubt been on her mind quite a lot since the night of November 8, 2016, when a campaign that seemed to be headed toward the ultimate conclusion of the election of the first female President in American history ended in shock and disappointment. While losing the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama in 2008 hurt, the loss to Donald Trump of all people has no doubt hurt even more. Given that, the idea of a rematch with Trump in which Clinton emerges victorious, which would by no means be certain, has most likely crossed her mind more than once.

All that being said, it seems clear to me that a third Clinton Presidential bid would not be received nearly as warmly by Democrats as her bids in 2008 and 2016 were. For one thing, as I noted above, candidates who have lost Presidential bids twice rarely are able to make a successful third run at the office, and that is likely to be as true for Clinton as it was for two-time losers in the past. In addition to the drumbeat of history, the fact of the matter is that the Democratic Party has changed significantly from what it was in either 2008 and 2016, and in no small part that means that the brand of center-left politics that the Clintons represent is largely out of favor now. What’s in favor is the so-called “progressive” politics of Warren, Sanders, and others, and the people with whom those policies resonate made their feelings about Clinton quite well-known during the 2016 campaign. Finally, the 2020 race for the Democratic nomination is likely to be a much more crowded field than what we saw in 2016. Unlike two years ago, candidates who see President Trump as vulnerable are unlikely to sit out the campaign if Clinton runs or continues to make it known that she’s considering running. Several of these candidates will be people who will be able to do a much better job than Bernie Sanders did at attracting the Democratic base vote that helped push Clinton over the top in 2016. Anything is possible, I suppose, but it seems likely that a third Clinton bid for the Democratic nomination isn’t going to be well-received.

All that being said, in the end I don’t think Clinton is actually going to run in 2020. That’s not going to stop the media from slavishly following her and Bill around the country, giving them and their “speaking tour” tons of free publicity. Which is, I think, the real motive behind Hilary pretending to open the 2020 door just a crack.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Democracy, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Slugger says:

    Let me repeat what I have said before. I would support an amendment setting an upper limit on age for eligibility for President. We have a minimum, and I think a maximum of 62 would be good. The 2016 election showed ample reason for this. Large corporations don’t make struldbrugs into CEOs, and neither should the nation.
    In a rational world, both parties would seek out a few 48 year olds to train for leadership. One of the failures of our system is that incumbent Presidents do not groom successors. Even in their second term when fear of creating a rival should not be much of a factor, we see little succession planning.

  2. steve says:

    She was a bad candidate in 2016. She would be a bad candidate in 2020. She should go away.


  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    If she is serious…maybe someone could arrange a campaign kick-off meeting at the Saudi Embassy in Turkey?!?!?
    Kidding…I joke.

  4. Kathy says:

    If necessary, she should be physically restrained from running again.

  5. sam says:

    Jesus Christ, No.

  6. Stormy Dragon says:

    As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is repeating the same actions and expecting different outcomes.

  7. Jen says:

    I hope she’s just poking Trump with this. It’d be annoying as heck to win the popular vote and then watch what this doofus is doing to the country, but no–the Democrats need new ideas, new faces. No Bernie, no Biden, and no Hillary.

  8. gVOR08 says:

    OK, wouldn’t be my first choice, but on electability grounds. She doesn’t have great charisma, but is that a front line qualification for doing the job? Otherwise what do we have against Hillary? Or rather what do we have against Hillary that isn’t a product of the RW character assassination machine. My point being that we shouldn’t be allowing the RW to pick our candidates. Too late for Hillary, complete nonsense like Benghazi and EMAILS!!!! has done it’s damage, it even seeps in here. Dems need to get a lot better at fighting the RW propaganda machine. They’ll do the same thing to any Dem that rises to prominence. They’d do it to Jesus or Gandhi. I moved to FL just in time to see the crap they’re throwing at Gillum.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    Kevin Drum has a good, actually quite hopeful, post up that everyone should read. A short summary of the three reasons Hillary lost:
    1. Fundamentals. A party almost never holds the WH for three terms anymore.
    2. Russians and that self righteous asshat Comey.
    3. Hillary’s flaws.

  10. Kathy says:


    OK, wouldn’t be my first choice, but on electability grounds. She doesn’t have great charisma, but is that a front line qualification for doing the job?

    Your question is answered by the first sentence. it’s may not be a qualification for the job, but it certainly is a qualification for getting the job.

    Do people who lose presidential bids rarely try again because they have proven they can’t win? or some other reason?

    In other countries things tend to be different. In Mexico Cuauhtemoc Cardenas ran twice, in 1994 and 2000, and lost both times. Manuel Andres Lopez Trump ran three times, 2006, 2012, and 2018, and won on the third try.

    Why? Well, for one thing there are no primary elections like in the US. Candidates can be chosen by the party leadership, or by a vote of the party members. And Lopez Obrador first dominated one party, then set up his own.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    “On some level she still wants to be President.” How about on the level where she said in the interview that she would like to be President? And “I would like to be President” is simply not equivalent to “I want to run for the Presidency”. I figure it is much more likely she is angling for a spot in the next Democratic administration. And I hope she gets one.

    And can you cut the snide comments about how she’s only in it for the money? She started her political career as a teenage Republican visiting black neighborhoods to campaign for Goldwater. What she learned by listening to those people led her to her disillusionment with the Repubs and by the time she reached college she was spending her school holidays going down to Louisiana to campaign for civil rights, during the Mississippi burning era. BTW, that’s how she met Bill, who was doing the same thing. She and Bill then went on to campaign and win elections in frickin’ Arkansas on civil rights and feminist platforms. This endless snark about how the Clintons are nothing but political opportunists that never stood for anything in their life is Repub swift boating of the highest degree. You can disparage Hillary for ego, or ineptness, for obsessive preparation or for under preparation, but as someone who pays attention to politics you really shouldn’t be signing into the “She’s only in it for the money” brigade.

  12. Guarneri says:

    1. Its real. They are that arrogant. Feel that entitled. And are willing to crush that many weak ballxs to do it.

    2. Kiss #metoo goodbye. And very few Democrats will object. After all, what’s a rape or two thousand for power? Eggs, omelettes……

    3. Please. Oh, baby, please, please, please.

    4. Please. Oh, baby, please, please, please…………….make me the campaign ad designer for the Republicans.

  13. Hal_10000 says:

    Here’s the thing about Clinton. I know a lot of Democratic women for whom the 2016 election night was a gut punch. They were not only going to get the first woman President, she was going to triumph over a misogynistic sexist pig, a man who, in the words of one friend, represented everything bad about men. Prognosticators (at least the idiotic non-Silver ones) said she was 98% lock. And then she lost. On a technicality, true, but she still lost.

    And I’m still sore at Clinton about that. For all the talk of Russian bots and hacked e-mails, she lost that election. It was very winnable. But she made choice after choice after choice — not campaigning in the Midwest, not having a coherent issue that defined her, making her campaign more about Trump’s awfulness than her ideas — that led to that catastrophe. After hoping and praying and goading the press to make sure he was the nominee, she ended up making him President. Trump did what he was supposed to — tried to win. The GOP voters did what they were going to do — vote Republican even if they nominated a complete moron. She didn’t.

    That’s hard to get over. There are other things: her age, her character, her baggage, her stance on the issues. But that’s the thing keeps lingering in my head. I don’t want to give her another chance to blow it.

  14. Moosebreath says:


    “Do people who lose presidential bids rarely try again because they have proven they can’t win? or some other reason?”

    Presidential candidates who lose in the primaries often win the second time around, especially on the Republican side (including Reagan, Bush the Elder, McCain and Romney). It’s rarer for a candidate to be nominated, lose and be nominated again, though Nixon would be the most modern exception.

  15. Jay L Gischer says:

    I’ve voted for Hillary in multiple primaries and in the general election. I contributed to her campaigns. I have no plans to do that again. I’m not particularly angry with her, nor do I blame her for the outcome in 2016. (I did experience it as a gut punch, even though I’m male).

    AND, I am not interested in having her run again. I do not plan to support her again, or vote for her. Mostly, that’s about her age, but it’s also about her message. Times have changed, and we need a message that keeps up.

  16. MarkedMan says:


    Do people who lose presidential bids rarely try again because they have proven they can’t win?

    FWIW, Reagan ran two primary campaigns that he came very close to winning before his third one in 1980 that took him into the presidency. Before him, Nixon famously lost to Kennedy before his return in 1968. Historically it is not that unusual for nominees to get more than one tilt at the golden ring. But it is true that they are not usually successful on that second time around. And in the era of the modern primary system, it seems quite unlikely.

    FWIW, I think Hillary Clinton’s fundamental flaw is that she does not present as a leader. She would have made a fantastic president, but she didn’t make a good candidate. So how did she get the nomination in the first place? By focussing on the things she was good at. By lining up supporters years in advance. By campaigning for other candidates and raising money for them and helping them make the contacts they needed. By going to every organization that could be considered Democratic or neutral, asking them what they needed and helping them get it. And she was very no-nonsense and no BS in the way she did it.

    There was a video I’m pretty sure was from her primary against Obama that I thought was totally indicative of the Hillary I saw as my Senator. There were a group of young African Americans (was that too early for Black Lives Matter?). And they were pressing her on an issue. So she didn’t pander. She treated them like people who wanted to create positive change but who she felt was focusing on the wrong things. She told them that she had learned that changing hearts and minds get you nowhere. That what matters is changing laws. They should find out whose vote is crucial and target those people. They should hold every elected official at every level accountable to their issues and not let up. They kept coming back to how awful people were and how people needed to change. And Hillary kept coming back to changing the laws and not worrying about the minds.

    I think it didn’t become viral not just because it was early days for that. More importantly it didn’t match the stereotype people on either side had in their heads about the “real Hillary”. But I knew people that had the exact same type of interaction with her when she was a Senator.

  17. MarkedMan says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I agree, 100%

  18. Stormy Dragon says:


    Or rather what do we have against Hillary that isn’t a product of the RW character assassination machine.

    She lost to Trump. We can’t afford her losing to Trump again.

  19. SKI says:


    “On some level she still wants to be President.” How about on the level where she said in the interview that she would like to be President? And “I would like to be President” is simply not equivalent to “I want to run for the Presidency”.


    c’mon Doug…. She got asked a question. Unambiguously said she wasn’t running. Was pressed and admitted to wanting to be President but reiterated that she wasn’t going to run.

    There is ZERO chance she runs. Period.

    Your entire article depends on calling water dry and snow hot. Just stop beating the dead horse.

  20. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: That was my general experience with her running for Senate — she was real, even when it seemed a little cold. Real and pragmatic. She would also open up about herself. It was an amazing combination.

    And I think she hated it.

    Had she run for President that way, I think she would have won.

    Anyway, she’s a billion years old, and we shouldn’t have people that old as President. If Gilliard runs and wins, Clinton would make a fine Caretaker Senator for that seat.

  21. Robert C says:

    @steve: She was a bad candidate in 2008 AND 2016.
    Yes, she needs to move on. We have.

  22. Kathy says:


    FWIW, I think Hillary Clinton’s fundamental flaw is that she does not present as a leader. She would have made a fantastic president, but she didn’t make a good candidate. So how did she get the nomination in the first place?

    I knew Reagan ran in 76 against Ford, but I’d no idea he’d run previously.

    You may add Grover Cleveland. He won an election, lost reelection, then won another election.

    I think a factor with Clinton in 2016, may be that no one else may have really wanted to try at a third straight term for their party.

    Hillary was the best qualified candidate since 1992. Her cardinal sin was losing against the most UNqualified candidate ever. By the time people get past that, she won’t be able to run even if she wanted to.

  23. Mister Bluster says:

    …she lost. On a technicality…

    Please reveal which of the clauses in this excerpt of Our Great Charter are a “technicality”.
    (Whatever that means.)

    Article II Section 1
    1: The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:
    2: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress:…

    Amendment XII
    The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;—The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;—The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. (And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. See Amendment XX Sec.3) —The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

  24. Franklin says:


    After all, what’s a rape or two thousand for power?

    What are you trying to talk about? I’m not aware of Hillary raping anybody. However, judging by his own quotes, Trump has almost certainly sexually assaulted women.

  25. Moosebreath says:


    Other people who were nominated by a major party after previously being nominated and losing include Thomas Dewey (Republican 1944 and 1948), William Jennings Bryan (Democratic 1896, 1900 and 1908), Henry Clay (Whig, 1832 and 1844) and William Henry Harrison (Whig 1836 and 1840). Out of that list, only Harrison joined Nixon and Cleveland in winning the second or later time.

  26. al Ameda says:

    I just purchased some Dry Cleaning Futures.
    The very prospect of Hillary running in 2020 is going to cause tens of thousands of Republican men and women to orgasm and cream out.

  27. Kathy says:


    Out of that list, only Harrison joined Nixon and Cleveland in winning the second or later

    Only because you let the voters rather than a newspaper poll elect Truman over Dewey 🙂

  28. Chris Childers says:

    She is running. As in now. That’s why she’s on TV non-stop blabbering saying things like “Trump is destroying our traditions and institutions!” followed by “We should abolish the Electoral College.”

    That aside, she’s actually a better choice than the new open borders socialist Dems. Open borders and free health care. What could go wrong?

    She’s running.

  29. Kari Q says:

    Oh honestly. She said “No.” She’s not running.

  30. An Interested Party says:

    That aside, she’s actually a better choice than the new open borders socialist Dems. Open borders and free health care. What could go wrong?

    Hmm…anyone who spouts this bullshit nonsense doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously with any predictions he makes…

  31. MarkedMan says:

    @Kari Q: She is not running for President but, like Romney, she no doubt fantasizes that everyone will see the error of their ways and beg her to run again. Of course she (and Romney) realizes that while there will always be a few people whispering in her ear, there is not going to be an upswell. But fantasies are human nature.

    What she is running for is a significant appointment in the next Democratic administration. I would make a special Asian ambassador position for her and let her assemble her old team. They were magnificent and it will take a decade or more of grinding work to undo Trump’s damage.

  32. Mister Bluster says:

    @An Interested Party:..anyone who spouts this bullshit nonsense doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously with any predictions he makes

    You cannot predict the future.
    Stephen Hawking

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kari Q: She said that she wasn’t running in 2014, too. Right before she formed her exploratory committee. I’ll believe her when it’s 2020 and she didn’t run, but only for 2020.