Hillary Clinton to Run for Senate Re-Election
Aides Say Senator Clinton Seeks 2nd Term [RSS] (NYT)
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to run for a second term in the Senate in 2006, despite arguments by some Democrats that such a move could complicate her potential bid for the presidency in 2008, her advisers said on Tuesday. Mrs. Clinton’s aides described her plans while she and former President Bill Clinton were assembling friends and supporters for the opening of his presidential library this week in Little Rock, a reunion that was shaping up as a discussion of both his legacy and her future.
The disclosure of her re-election plans seemed intended to stanch what aides said was rising speculation among Democrats, particularly since Senator John Kerry’s loss two weeks ago, that she might need to forgo the Senate race to focus entirely on running for the White House. “It’s not an issue,” said Howard Wolfson, an adviser to Mrs. Clinton. “Senator Clinton has said she is running for re-election. She is raising money and moving forward.” Mandy Grunwald, her longtime media adviser, said, “The questions about the presidency are flattering. but she’ll deal with that in the future.”
Some Democrats close to Mrs. Clinton, who spoke only on the condition that they not be identified, said she should forgo a Senate race, since she would be barraged by demands from Republicans to promise to serve out her term if re-elected. In addition, they said, Republicans would use a Senate race to bloody Mrs. Clinton, and to try to maneuver her into taking positions that might prove damaging in a national race. One close Congressional ally said that if Mrs. Clinton runs for re-election, “the whole Republican apparatus” will focus on knocking her off in 2006 so long as she is a potential presidential contender. “There’s a group that really thinks she should focus on running for the presidency and forget about running for re-election,” this associate said. “It’s hard to run for both, even for someone as talented as she is.” Among the leading Democrats raising concerns, Mrs. Clinton’s associates said, was James Carville, an architect of her husband’s victory in 1992. Mr. Carville called the question of whether to run for re-election a “difficult choice,” but declined to describe his opinions, and said it was premature to even begin wrestling with these kinds of questions. “In the scheme of things, people are trying to get through this past election and the library opening,” he said.
Mrs. Clinton has what several aides described as the burden of a political calendar that leaves her very little breathing room: the Iowa caucuses will be held just 14 months after the Senate election. If Mrs. Clinton followed the schedule that Mr. Kerry followed, she would be signaling her interest in the race for president one month after her Senate campaign was completed.
I had always presumed that she’d run for a second term. And, frankly, the issue of whether she’d finish out the term are virtually irrelevant. She would give the standard coy non-denial denial. Aside from Rudy Guiliani–or maybe Governor George Pataki–it’s almost inconceivable that she’d be defeated in a re-election bid. And given Pataki’s departure from the governor’s chair, it’s rather likely that a Democrat will be governor in 2008 to appoint her replacement.
Update (1123): “Captain Ed” Morrissey disagrees, noting that
The New York GOP has to be delighted with her decision. Granted, she probably wins re-election rather handily unless she faces off against an exceptional candidate; Governor George Pataki has indicated interest, but probably only Rudy Giuliani would be able to beat her. Even if she wins, however, the Republican campaign will be designed to specifically tie her to policy positions that she may later regret during a presidential campaign, when the mass of voters will swing more conservative.
While that’s all true, she’s politically savvy enough to avoid most of these traps. She’s unlikely to face serious opposition in the Democratic primaries, so she’ll feel free to run as a moderate. She’ll essentially get to start her presidential race, including fundraising and gaining free media exposure, a year ahead of the remaining Democratic contenders.