Reid Wants Clinton to Drop Presidential Bid, Be Minority Leader

Steve Clemons has either an intriguing scoop or has been the target of misinformation:

Some high level Democratic Party political insiders have shared with TWN details of a potential shift in vectors for several of the major political stars in that party.

First of all, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, whom most give high marks for the manner in which he has stewarded the Dems in the Senate despite the absence of a clear Democratic Party chief, has sent private signals to Senator Hillary Clinton and other stalwarts of the party that he “would like to” step down from his post in early 2009. Reid has not stated definitively that he will — but he apparently prefers “whipping” the Party from behind and the side rather than serving as commander-in-chief on the Senate floor.

In an update to the post, “Senator Reid’s office has called me this morning and asked that I post on this note that Senator Reid denies this case — and denies it in the strongest possible sense.” Clemons stands by his report.

While Clinton would be an able floor leader–in my view, better than any the Democrats have had in either house since Tip O’Neill–I can’t imagine she’d go for this, if true. While I agree with Clemons that she has major hurdles to overcome if she hopes to be president, she is the odds-on favorite to get her party’s nomination.

Rather clearly, her Senate career has been a stepping stone to a presidential bid; she brought too much name recognition to the table to be content with being one of 100, even if it’s the Minority or Majority Leader position. And, frankly, the longer she stays in Congress taking positions on controversial issues, creating a confusing record of voting for things before she votes against them, the less likely she is to realize her presidential ambitions.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies 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.


  1. What makes you think Hillary would be good as Minority Leader?

  2. James Joyner says:

    She’s highly intelligent, a good speaker, very disciplined about staying on message, and has developed a pretty keen ability to position herself shrewdly within the mainstream without alienating too much of the base. She has, by all accounts, been an excellent senator in the sense of actually being informed on the issues and doing hard work rather than just doing photo ops.

  3. vnjagvet says:

    An outtake of her performance at this morning’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing might not help in the realization of her Presidential ambitions.

    Rumsfeld laid her open, IMHO, in a gentle but firm tone.

    She was not amused.

  4. James,

    I would give you everything but the “good speaker” bit. I think she would make a great staffer, but I have trouble seeing her being great on her own.

    I guess it is also what you are looking for. If you want the most triangulating position oriented person, great. If you want someone in the minority who can make deals to get the most they can, she’s not the right person. Reid has been running circles around Frist as far as being a obstructionist. I don’t think Hillary would be any better at that.