Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Run Un-Officially Began Yesterday

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton gave a speech that will most likely be remembered as the start of her 2016 Presidential campaign.

Hillary Clinton at 2013 ABA

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Since she stepped down as Secretary of State in February, Hillary Clinton has been keeping a relatively low profile. That changed yesterday when she gave the first in a planned series of high profile speeches on a range of policy topics.

Writes the AP:

Hillary Clinton kicked off a series of speeches on Monday with a call to combat what she called an “assault on voting rights.”

She spent most of her 45-minute talk to about 1,000 members of the American Bar Association assailing a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a significant part of the Voting Rights Act and discussing what she sees as “deep flaws in our electoral system” as it relates to racial discrimination at the polls.

The former U.S. secretary of state spoke in San Francisco after receiving the group’s highest award for service to the law. She said her upcoming speeches would look at national security and U.S. global leadership.

Next month, she intends to speak in Philadelphia about the “balance and transparency necessary in our national security policies as we move beyond a decade of wars to face new threats.” Later, Clinton said she would discuss the implication of American’s global leadership and the nation’s moral standing around the world.

Given the range of topics to be covered these planned speeches, and the fiery tone of this first address, it seems pretty clear that this is the first public steps of her 2016 presidential campaign.

Speeches like these play two important roles in the lead up to a campaign.

First, they provide the candidate with an opportunity to develop and learn to articulate clear policy positions. While the primaries are over two years away, its never to soon to start the long process of crafting one’s positions. And, given the emphasis currently placed on televised debates, it’s more critical than ever for a candidate to be able to reliably express any of their key positions at a moment’s notice (call this “Perry’s Law”).

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, these speeches serve as an opportunity for the candidate to reintroduce herself to pundits, the press, and key party influencers and activists. While Hillary Clinton is a household name, its important to note that her work for the last four years has focused almost exclusively on foreign policy. The result is we’re in a moment where Clinton gets to press the proverbial “reset” button by reestablishing her positions on a wide range of issues.

It also is a moment in which Clinton can reestablish her liberal bona fidies among Democrats. Across these speeches, we will most likely see the emergence more liberal Clinton than has been on display for the last decade. One of the critiques, fair or not, of Clinton’s 2008 primary loss, was that Obama was able to successfully run to the left of her on a number of key issues. I think it’s fair to assume that Clinton will do her best to follow that aspect of the Obama game plan this time around and, at least initially, try to energize the more progressive elements of the party. And since she is no longer holding public office or any government positions, she’s able to start putting forward ideas without any expectation of actually having to make them happen (a luxury that most of her current potential rivals don’t have).

Looking out over the next few years, it’s pretty easy to see how Clinton is laying the groundwork for 2016. These speeches, which I expect to continue for most of 2013, are the first step. Then, in June of 2014, her latest memoir will be published. Based on the description of the book –  Hillary Clinton’s candid reflections about the key moments during her time as Secretary of State, as well as her thoughts about how to navigate the challenges of the 21st century — we know that at least half of it will be dedicated to policy positions as well. And finally, either in conjunction with that book’s publicity tour, or immediately following, she’ll announce her candidacy. This time around, I doubt that she will even go through the motions of forming an “exploratory committee.”

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Hillary Clinton, Politicians, Politics 101, US Politics, ,
Matt Bernius
About Matt Bernius
Matthew studied Cultural Anthropology at Cornell University, researching the intersection of technology and culture. Prior to Cornell, he earned a Masters in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and was a visiting professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He started writing at OTB in May 2013. Follow him on twitter @mattbernius.

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    “…Hillary Clinton kicked off a series of speeches on Monday with a call to combat what she called an “assault on voting rights“…”

    What she calls an assault on voting rights Republicans call their “only hope at winning”.

  2. James Joyner says:

    One wonders when she’ll begin, if she hasn’t already, the really crucial part of the campaign: raising money and building a staff. She did a poor job of the latter in 2008.

  3. Caj says:

    Of course Hillary will run. That’s why Reince Priebus is running scared with his mafia style threats! Republicans don’t even come close to having someone smart enough to run against Hillary. They can kiss goodbye to the White House for another eight years. The party can’t change their way of thinking or their policies that’s just who they are. Dinosaur material really!

  4. anjin-san says:

    She did a poor job of the latter in 2008.

    Hillary is a smart woman. My guess is that she will be able to do successful failure analysis on her 2008 campaign and bring people in that can build a strong staff. Patti Solis Doyle struck me as someone with ego issues, a successful campaign needs leaders that are all about the candidate.

  5. Matt Bernius says:

    @James Joyner:

    One wonders when she’ll begin, if she hasn’t already, the really crucial part of the campaign: raising money and building a staff. She did a poor job of the latter in 2008.

    I have a hard time thinking that this work hasn’t already begun.

    What I suspect will have changed since 2008, in terms of staffing, will be where the public emphasis is placed. Part of the reason I expect shes going to tack to the left over the next two years will be to take a play from Obama and work to cultivate grassroots activists and bring many of them aboard as staff members.

    On the money side, I expect that this is going to also manifest itself in a push towards Obama style micro-dontations (while still courting folks with deep pockets).

    Generally speaking, Hillary 2016 is most likely going to be one of the most coordinated and well planned campaigns in US history. In many respects, I suspect it will be — in terms of how it’s run — the polar opposite of Romney’s campaign in 2012. By that I mean that significant evidence has come to light suggesting that, despite the fact it might have appeared on the outside that Romney had been running since Obama took office, Romney himself only decisively decided to run relatively late in the process.

    Hillary, on the other hand, seems to have made the decision while still Secretary of State, and has laid out then next few years to carefully position herself for the run — not to mention addressing many of the issues from 2008.

  6. stonetools says:

    I suspect that a lot of the folks in Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns and Elizabeth Warren’s 2012 campaign will be working on the Clinton campaign. She may even be able to get Plouffe and Messina. If so, she’ll roll like Sherman rolled through Georgia.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    As long as she doesn’t re-hire Mark Pann…she wins.

  8. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I believe that part of Clinton’s problem in 2008 was a reliance upon Friends of Bill and folks who had cut their teeth in the Clinton White House, whereas Obama’s campaign was dominated by scrappy upstarts who understood how technology, social media, and community organizing all overlapped on a Venn Diagram. I think that part of the difference for her this time around will be that the scrappy upstarts have spent the past several years becoming the new establishment folks, and that most of them will be more than happy to put their time and effort into her campaign.

  9. Moosebreath says:

    @Gromitt Gunn:

    “I think that part of the difference for her this time around will be that the scrappy upstarts have spent the past several years becoming the new establishment folks, and that most of them will be more than happy to put their time and effort into her campaign.”

    I am not sure about this. It depends a bit on who her alternative is, at least in the Democratic primary. I think if it is a contest between her and Biden, you are likely right. On the other hand, if there is a younger challenger (O’Malley? Schweitzer?), they may go for the challenger. I think many will be willing to sign on for the general election, though.

  10. Todd says:

    Unless something really dramatic happens over the next couple of years, I can’t imagine many scenarios where Hillary Clinton won’t be the next President.

    … mainly because I can’t imagine many scenarios where the current Republican party actually nominates a credible candidate. After watching what’s happend the past two cycles when they nominated “moderates” (who had to pretend to be conservatives during the primaries), I think they’ll just go ahead an nominate the real deal this time. And Ted Cruz won’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of beating Hillary Clinton … especially if the economy continues it’s slow steady improvement.

  11. Tyrell says:

    Does that mean that we can break out the cigars?

  12. Matt Bernius says:

    @Gromitt Gunn:

    whereas Obama’s campaign was dominated by scrappy upstarts who understood how technology, social media, and community organizing all overlapped on a Venn Diagram.

    This is the conventional wisdom, but I think it gets dangerously close to making “scrappy upstarts” into the “special sauce.”

    Obama’s wasn’t the first scrappy-tech-upstart campaign. Dean’s was. And we all know how that ended.

    What Obama and Alexrod managed to do was assemble the right mix of up-and-coming establishment types and new talent (particularly on the organizing and tech side). However, what was equally important was that they also smartly publicly pushed the “new talent” side of the equation, helping create an image of the campaign as being run by all the bright young things.

  13. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Matt Bernius: I do agree with your addendum. I am working on a project today against a deadline, so I wasn’t being as comprehensive in word on the topic as I am in thought.

  14. Neil Hudelson says:

    @anjin-san:

    Patti Solis Doyle struck me as someone with ego issues

    Have you met political operatives before?

  15. anjin-san says:

    @ Neil Hudelson

    Perhaps “ego issues that interfered with her work” would be better. She strikes me as a self-promoter, which is nothing new, but the time for a campaign operative to self-promote is after winning the election. Not before, not during.

  16. bill says:

    with nothing to run on she’ll have to make up something like “voting rights” to stir up the double digit iq crowd. that was settled not long ago- and was way overdue.

  17. An Interested Party says:

    …that was settled not long ago- and was way overdue.

    Please, what delusional la la land do you live in…if that was really “settled not long ago” than why are Republican governors and state legislators trying to make it harder for minorities, among others, to vote…

  18. GFRF says:

    To think that this shrew could be our next prez.
    An absolutely repulsive thought!

  19. anjin-san says:

    @ GFRF

    Yes, she is a woman, and no, she does not look like a sex toy. We realize that for this reason conservatives have little use for her.