On Election Day 2016, Hillary Clinton conceded gracefully, asking America to “give Trump a chance.” That didn’t last long. Months afterward, she came out swinging against the president. Last week, she called him an ”illegitimate president.” On Monday, she claimed he violated his oath of office by pulling U.S. troops back in Syria.
Clinton may just be trying to increase her visibility to sell her latest book, but she may also be positioning herself to enter the 2020 Democratic presidential race if former Vice President Joe Biden falters — or should I say, continues to falter.
Before you scoff, think about the current state of the race: Biden, an aging “moderate” with increasingly radical positions, is dropping as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a Bernie Sanders-style big government radical who riles up the liberal base, rises in the polls and in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Wall Street donors who back Democrats have warned the Democratic Party that they won’t write checks if Warren is the nominee — in fact, they’ll consider backing Trump.
Meanwhile, Biden’s many gaffes — coupled with his bleeding eye — have raised questions as to whether he’s up for the challenge of going mano-a-mano against Trump. Sanders’ recent heart attack is reminding Democrats that their three highest-polling candidates — Biden, Warren, and Sanders — are getting up in years.
At the same time, Democrats are trying to impeach Trump over a phone call between the president and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump asked Zelensky to look into Biden’s son Hunter, who got a cushy $50,000-month job on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma, despite his lack of experience in the energy sector. Biden, then vice president, was Obama’s point person on Ukraine, and he pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor in charge of an investigation into corruption at Burisma.
The whole effort may have the effect of kneecapping Biden by revealing his son’s corruption.
Furthermore, Democrat pollster Paul Maslin called Biden’s polling lead “deceptive,” and Warren has pulled even with the former VP in the polls.
In light of all this, Democrats who identify themselves as moderate may be looking for another option besides Joe Biden, and there may be an opening for Clinton to jump into the race.
I wouldn’t normally consider Steve Bannon — Trump’s former White House advisor — a source worth citing, but he may be on to something when he predicted that Hillary may enter the race. “She is running. She’s just trying to decide how to fit her way in,” Bannon told Fox Business last week.
On Monday, the conservative polling firm Rasmussen Reports released a poll showing Trump and Clinton neck-and-neck among likely voters if there were a repeat of the 2016 election today. Both candidates received 45 percent of the vote, with 11 percent undecided.
Surprisingly, a full 18 percent said Clinton should enter the race, despite losing to Trump in 2016. Most voters said Hillary should not enter the race, and a majority also said she would be unlikely to win the Democratic nomination. Sixty-one percent said Clinton is unlikely to win the nomination, with 36 percent still saying her nomination is likely. Self-identified Democrats were more likely to say Clinton’s nomination is likely (48 percent) than unlikely (46 percent).
While more Democrats said Clinton’s nomination is likely, most also insisted they did not think she should enter the race. Fifty-nine percent said they think she should stay out.
More than half of voters say they are likely to vote against Trump next year. In a matchup with Trump, Clinton would get 76 percent of Democratic votes and 15 percent of Republican votes, according to the poll. Trump would get 81 percent of Republicans and 18 percent of Democrats, while unaffiliated voters proved almost evenly divided.
Many Americans (42 percent) said America would be better off today if Clinton had won in 2016, while 48 percent disagreed.
These numbers are far from a ringing endorsement, but many liberals think Hillary should be president since she won the popular vote in 2016. If she were to run, she would have a decent chance of winning the Democratic primary, especially if Biden dropped out and if Warren continued to alienate moderate Democrats.
Clinton is not likely to enter the race at this point, but she could be laying the groundwork to make another presidential run possible. She may think that Democrat accusations of Trump’s corruption make him a weaker candidate in 2020 than he was in 2016. She may also think that his victory was a fluke and if the election were run one more time, she would win.
Hillary Clinton just released a book about “gutsy women.” It would certainly be gutsy — though ill-advised — for her to run for president one more time.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.