Hillary Clinton Says ‘I’m Not Running’

Does it depend on what the meaning of "running" is?

News12 The Bronx (“‘I’m not running’: Hillary Clinton rules out 2020 bid for first time on camera in exclusive interview with News 12“):

Hillary Clinton ruled out a 2020 presidential run for the first time on camera in an exclusive interview with News 12, pledging instead to take an active role by working with the candidates in the crowded Democratic field.

“I’m not running, but I’m going to keep on working and speaking and standing up for what I believe,” she told News 12’s Tara Rosenblum.

There’s quite a bit more at the story, including a video of the 5-plus minute interview but that’s the key quote.

I suspect Clinton is in fact not going to make another bid for the White House. She’s 71, is rich and world famous, and has already failed twice as the overwhelming favorite. Last go-round, no serious Democrat even bothered to run against her for the nomination. (Bernie Sanders, who wound up being a bigger threat than anyone predicted, doesn’t identify as a Democrat.) While she would, of course, be a top-tier candidate were she to run again, there are already a large number of well-known candidates in the race. They’re not going to bow out at this point.

Still, having paid rather close attention for the past 28 years, I speak Clinton rather fluently. She didn’t say “I’m not going to run” or “I categorically rule out a run” or anything of the kind. Rather, she said, “I’m not running.” That’s present tense. It’s conceivable that she would swoop in at the 11th hour if the current myriad crop of Democratic contenders turn out to be a disaster and offer herself as the party’s savior.

UPDATE: Doug Mataconis was writing about this, using different sources, at the same time. He’s less skeptical of Clinton’s denial although, to reiterate, I believe that she’s not running now and is therefore ruling out a traditional campaign for the nomination.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Hillary Clinton, Quick Takes, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Teve says:

    Hillary:

    “I’m not running”

    James:

    I suspect Clinton is in fact not going to make another bid for the White House.

    I’m at a loss for words.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    James, your CDS is showing.

    ETA 😉

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  3. Kylopod says:

    If she were somehow to run and managed to win the nomination, I don’t think it’s at all a given that she would lose to Trump again. But anyone clamoring to test that hypothetical is either mad or a Russian.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    The interesting question is, who will she get behind? She has an incredible network. My guess is that she will wait until the candidate is chosen and then throw in support. On the other hand, if there is someone on her short list looking strong and they offer a significant cabinet position or a Supreme Court seat, I could see her getting in early.

  5. @MarkedMan:

    Kirsten Gillibrand has long before close to the Clinton world since before she was appointed to fill Hillary’s seat in the Senate after Clinton became Secretary of State.

    Just sayin’.

  6. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    James, your CDS is showing.

    I don’t think so. I take her at her word that she’s not running now, for reasons cited in the first substantive paragraph of the OP. I just note that she’s leaving herself wiggle room to mount a non-traditional campaign if she sees the opportunity. Which, frankly, strikes me as a perfectly reasonable course of action for someone in her position.

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  7. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: She’s highly qualified to sit on the Supreme Court but would be, at youngest, 73. It would be foolish, indeed, to spend one of the greatest assets of one’s presidency on her. For that matter, she’s already been Secretary of State, a post she resigned after one term. What’s left in terms of a cabinet post that would enhance her prestige?

  8. Kylopod says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Kirsten Gillibrand has long before close to the Clinton world since before she was appointed to fill Hillary’s seat in the Senate after Clinton became Secretary of State.

    I’m sure her op-ed where she stated that Bill should have resigned during the Lewinsky scandal has done wonders for her relationship with the Clinton people.

    /s

  9. Kathy says:

    My (ha ha) heartfelt condo(ha ha)lences to the (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha) GO(ha ha ha)P (ha ha ha ha).

    Seriously, One need not run in order to be the power behind the throne. But such things work even moderately well in less democratic regimes.

  10. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    What’s left in terms of a cabinet post that would enhance her prestige?

    I was thinking about this myself. I don’t think it would need to be a step up. As you said, she is into her 70’s now. But she has literally been involved in government since she was sixteen, when she campaigned for the Republican Goldwater. (Ironically, the committee people sent her into black neighborhoods, which ended up turning her into a civil rights crusader and eventually, a Democrat.) And while I think Bill is fairly happy be an influencer and advisor at the highest levels, my gut feeling is that Hillary won’t be happy until she is back in the mix. I always thought her most Hillary-ish moment was when she was caught on phone camera talking to young Black Lives Matter activists and she essentially said, “Screw changing hearts and minds. Change the laws.” FWIW I think that sentiment explains both her greatest accomplishments and her greatest failures.

    So, bottom line, I could see her taking SoS for a second time (and would be very happy if she did), or Homeland Security or Defense. I wouldn’t rule out Health and Human Services either, or Housing and Urban Development, or Labor, simply because she is passionate about those areas.

  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The CDS is strong in this one…

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  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s conceivable that she would swoop in at the 11th hour if the current myriad crop of Democratic contenders turn out to be a disaster and offer herself as the party’s savior.

    James, I am trying, really really trying, to envision a scenario in which all of the present DEM candidates would not only flop, but flop so badly that Hillary could present herself as the party’s savior. I. can’t. do. it. And something tells me neither can she. That you can….

    Well, CDS.

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  13. dmichael says:

    I always look forward to see what you “boys” are going to say about a woman political figure. Joyner’s sub-head is a snide reference to Bill Clinton’s attempt to avoid directly answering a question about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Doug’s is a snide reference to Dick Nixon’s final comment in a press conference after he lost the California governors race in 1962. You guys do write these headings don’t you? You just can’t resist.

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  14. Mike in Arlington says:

    First, she ain’t running. The 2016 race was a tough race, but for her especially. I would be stunned if she wanted to go through that again.

    Second, even if she did run, she would get smoked in the primary. I see little desire among democrats to get behind Clinton again. The democrats underestimated her negatives in 2016 for a variety of reasons, and I see no desire to make the same mistake again.

    Third, there’s a desire to get some young(er) blood into the democratic party leadership because it’s become stagnant, making a strong showing for Clinton in the primaries almost impossible.

  15. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: If Biden runs, I think it unlikely.

    Otherwise, we seem to have Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren vying for the Left Populist vote and a passel of lesser-known candidates vying for the Establishment Democrat vote.

    If Warren knocks Bernie out, I don’t see Hillary entering the fray. If it looks like Bernie is the likely nominee? You betcha.

    Similarly, I can’t imagine Hillary coming in to oppose one of the more traditional Dems, particularly the women. But maybe they cannibalize one another and that leaves Bernie winning primary after primary. That’s pretty much happened on the GOP side in 2016.

  16. Pylon says:

    What’s left in terms of a cabinet post that would enhance her prestige?

    I don’t buy your assumption that prestige is a motivating factor for HRC. I think she wants to do good and that she thinks she’s able to do so. At worst, she’s got ego about her abilities.

    If you listen to the interview, taking into account the question, her tone and the context, it’s obvious she means that she is not going to run for president. She isn’t parsing and picking her words carefully. If someone says to me “are you following The Bachelor” and I say “I’m not watching that”, I’m not playing around or leaving myself an out. It’s just a not uncommon parlance for an activity in which I’m not participating now or in the future.

  17. al Ameda says:

    I suspect that Fox, Sinclair, and all other conservative talking point networks, will keep the dream alive. They know that the mere mention of Hillary Clinton – the very words ‘Hillary Clinton’ – is enough set their viewers and listeners off. It’s their twisted version of motivational speaking.

  18. Kylopod says:

    @Pylon:

    If someone says to me “are you following The Bachelor” and I say “I’m not watching that”, I’m not playing around or leaving myself an out. It’s just a not uncommon parlance for an activity in which I’m not participating now or in the future.

    This ignores the fact that there’s a long history of politicians seeming to deny they’ll enter the next presidential race before going on to do just that–including Hillary herself. That’s why pundits are always parsing words and not taking anything short of “Shermanesque” denials at face value–they’ve been through it too many times before.

  19. Mike in Arlington says:

    @James Joyner: Do you really see any desire on the part of the democrats to run her again? I don’t see any desire to re-make the mistake from 2016, regardless who is in the race.

  20. James Joyner says:

    @dmichael: I’m not sure what your point is.

    Yes, my subhed is a deliberate play on Bill Clinton’s infamous quibble about Lewinski. But I’m not insinuating that Hillary Clinton is doing anything more scandalous than keeping a remote option open. She’s a seasoned politician and attorney; she could certainly have been more definitive and precise had she desired to do so.

    Yes, Doug’s headline is a nod to Richard Nixon’s famous feel-sorry-for-himself reaction to losing an election. But Nixon did go on to win an even bigger election—twice.

  21. Pylon says:

    @Kylopod:

    That number is dwarfed by the number of politicians who say they aren’t running for something and then don’t. But to your point, the number who actually say something as blunt as Clinton, and then turn around and reverse course is pretty darned small. They are far more equivocal.

  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I believe that she’s not running now and is therefore ruling out a traditional campaign for the nomination.

    On the 5th of March in the year 2019. (Just thought I’d clarify my take on it. As I noted at Doug’s post, I’ve seen this show before and reserve the right to remain skeptical.) I don’t think James’ statement represents HDS. It’s merely cynical.

    But, the final sentence of James’s comment to @ Marked Man where he discounts the possibility that she would do something simply for the good of the nation without any personal aggrandizement potential probably does count as HDS. As much as I was disgusted with Bill “didn’t inhale” and have always found Hillary off putting at best, I’ve never believed that they did what they do only for personal gain. Politics doesn’t pay well enough for that in the US (although they certainly have made hay while the sun was shining and I congratulate them on their good fortune).

  23. Gustopher says:

    Bloomberg also announced that he isn’t running for President. Seems suspicious that they would both be making the same statements at the same time…

    Are they not running for President together?

  24. James Joyner says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    But, the final sentence of James’s comment to @ Marked Man where he discounts the possibility that she would do something simply for the good of the nation without any personal aggrandizement potential probably does count as HDS.

    That wasn’t a Hillary-specific assessment. I can’t think of a person in the modern era with anything like her stature who has taken on a cabinet post. She’s already been Secretary of State, which is traditionally the most prestigious. I suppose there would be some value to being the first woman Secretary of Defense—but I don’t think she’s particularly interested in defense issues. Plus, she’s going to be 73 years old at the time. That’s awfully late in life to take on such a huge job.

    Now, I could see her agreeing to head up a blue-ribbon commission or be some kind of policy tsar. That’s a much shorter project, would allow her to serve in an elder statesman role, and serve the country in an area where she’s genuinely passionate. But I’d be shocked if she took on, say, Health and Human Services.