Clinton must walk fine line
WASHINGTON – It’s never easy to say goodbye – but the bitterness and intensity of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 17-month campaign against Barack Obama has turned today’s endorsement speech into a political high-wire act, analysts and insiders say.
Clinton is expected to leave no doubt she supports Obama – with no vice presidential strings attached – while staking out a role as a major player in the Democratic Party.
“We all need closure,” said Jennifer Duffy of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
There is pressure on Clinton to reach out to Obama during her noon speech at the National Building Museum in downtown Washington today.
Job one for Clinton is to concede unequivocally and endorse Obama without reservation, prominent Obama backers said Friday.
One Obama backer, speaking on condition of anonymity, thinks Clinton will try to smooth over racial and gender divisions by blaming the media for blowing her statements – and those of her husband, Bill Clinton – out of proportion.
And that raises another question about today’s event: What will Bill Clinton’s role be?
“I’m dying to know if he has a speaking role,” said Duffy. “And if he does, what will he say?”
Where can she go next?
Now that she’s no longer running for president, here are some possible career options for Hillary Rodham Clinton:
Pros: Her popularity with white lunch-bucket voters, Hispanics and women gives Barack Obama better chances at winning states like Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, Florida and Texas.
Cons: Many in Obama’s camp think she’s the embodiment of Beltway malaise, plus the watch-your-back-Barack factor and B-I-L-L.
Health care reform czar
Pros: Few know more about the topic, and she wants to make up for early ‘90s failure.
Cons: Too much baggage, too much potential for upstaging Obama.
Supreme court justice
Pros: Has the gravitas and legal training and would breeze through confirmation.
Cons: Would end her political career – and Bill’s business ventures could cause conflicts of interest.
Secretary of state
Pros: Projects forceful but fair image to rest of world.
Cons: Obama foreign policy advisers think she’s a grandstanding hawk and Joe Biden is more likable.
New York governor
Pros: No one would ever call her a carpetbagger again.
Cons: Would she run against David A. Paterson? Mike Bloomberg? Charles Schumer?
White House rerun
Pros: She’d only be 64 in ‘12 and there’s an “I-told-you-so” factor if John McCain beats Obama.
Cons: Who would want to go through this again?