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What's Next for HRC?

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. speaks during a campaign rally in downtown Scranton, Pa., Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008 as Democratic vice presidential candidate, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del. left, and his wife Jill Biden listen. (AP Photo/Jimmy May)

UPDATE, 1 p.m. ET: The reader mail has been pouring in suggesting an overlooked option for Clinton -- Supreme Court Justice. Of the nine Justices, five are 70 years of age or older and a sixth -- David Souter -- is 69. Assuming there is at least one opening -- and likely more -- over the next four years under an Obama presidency, Clinton would almost certainly be in the mix for an appointment.


Hillary Rodham Clinton started this election cycle as not only the de facto Democratic presidential nominee but also the strong frontrunner to be sworn in as the next chief executive on Jan. 20, 2009.

She ends it as neither, and yet remains one of the most intriguing -- and oft-speculated about -- figures in American politics. At least once a week (sometimes more), someone asks us what's next for Clinton.

While the New York senator has been largely silent about her future plans, she opened up -- a bit -- this morning during an interview with "Fox and Friends."

Asked by host Gretchen Carlson whether she might run for president again, Clinton said the odds were "probably close to zero." On her interest in a run for Senate Majority Leader -- a job currently held by Nevada Sen. Harry Reid -- Clinton also predicted there was "probably zero" chance she would wind up in that job, adding: "I'm not seeking any other position except for being the best senator for New York that I can be."

While some observers -- including Fix friend (and the king of Nevada politics) Jon Ralston -- have sought to paint Clinton's comments about majority leader as a sign that she is plotting a bid, all of her remarks this morning seem relatively innocuous to our eye.

The truth of the matter is that Clinton spent the last two years (and, in truth, far longer than that) preparing to run and win the presidency. With that dream deferred -- and perhaps gone forever if Barack Obama is elected in the fall -- Clinton is clearly still trying to figure out what comes next.

"Senator Clinton is focused on being the best Senator she can be and looking forward to working with President Obama from the Senate on solving the challenges we face," said spokeswoman Kathleen Strand.

At 60 -- she will be 61 on Oct. 26 -- Clinton still has a number of productive political years in front of her. And, while she has been in and around national politics for many years, she is only in her eighth year of elected office -- a relative newbie when compared to some of her colleagues.

Although Clinton clearly has a future in politics, it's more difficult to see exactly what that future will be.

Let's run through her options:

Governor: Interim Gov. David Paterson's (D) is seeking a full term in 2010 and Clinton has ruled out a primary challenge. Paterson may well have the Democratic field to himself as state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo could also pass on the contest.

Senate Majority Leader: This seems, to our mind, the most far-fetched of the potential next steps for Clinton. Those who argue that she could walk into the position as the top ranking Democrat in the world's greatest deliberative body don't understand the Senate all that well. Reid is well liked and well respected by his colleagues and if he (with a major assist from Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer) guides Democrats to 60 seats -- or close to it -- this fall, it's hard to imagine that his position wouldn't be strengthened.

President: If Obama comes up short in three weeks time, the conventional wisdom is that Clinton would be a near-certain candidate in 2012. But, as an Obama victory looks more and more likely with each passing day, Clinton's shot at the presidency narrow. If Obama is elected and then runs for re-election, the next open Democratic presidential primary would be in 2016 -- when Clinton would be 69 years old. Is that too old to run? Absolutely not. (John McCain is 72.) But, it remains a real question whether Clinton would want to put herself through another presidential bid at that age.

Senate: By far the most likely path for Clinton is to seek re-election to the Senate in 2012. By all accounts she enjoys her job in the Senate and her status as first among equals due to her national presence and fundraising ability. Given those factors, It's hard to imagine Clinton facing a serious challenge in 2012 or, for that matter, 2018.

What we know for sure is that Clinton will almost certainly remain a major figure in both the Democratic Party and national politics. We eagerly await her next move.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 14, 2008; 12:20 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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I think Hillary should move to Alaska and run for governor.

Posted by: bokonon13 | October 15, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

How about Secretary General of the United Nations?
With her husband's work with the Clinton Foundation, she could pull the support of the developing world easily, and it would be a huge step for the UN to have a female Sec Gen. Russia and China would object I am sure, but it is a possibility.

Posted by: AndyR3 | October 15, 2008 4:26 AM | Report abuse

First, I know it won't help, but, 37andO alley, as about 18 posters have informed you, O was editor in chief of the law review and his job was to "edit" the review, not write. When editors do write they don't sign their names to the articles. That said, O did write a "note," an important indepth analysis of caselaw on a subject. But go ahead and continue your idiotic, racist off-topic spamming.

Second, on the HRC topic: who cares?

That she and WJC are still in the media conversation is an unhelpful distracting element. If campaigning is vigorously and passionately telling the public why your candidate is good and why his opponents are bad, Mr. and Mrs. WJC have yet to "campaign" a single day for O. Don't have to at least mention O's name once in your stump speeches. Their presence in battleground states serves only to remind people of the well-known litany of 127 grievances against O, Bill Richardson, the Man, Patti Solis Doyle, and, oh well, you know the rest...

Their reappearance is coming at a time when the polls are good and O seems to be closing the deal. Possible HRC appointments? US Court of Claims. Special Assistant to the Deputy Undersecretary of State for Sub-Sahara projects. Ambassador to Zimbabwe. Ambassador to Burma. Administrative Law Judge for the Department of Health and Human Services. Coach of Maryland's Women's Basketball Team. No, seriously, HRC, run for reelection to the Senate and win back the support of progressives and AAs among whom you as popular as George Corley Wallace.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | October 14, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

HRC has got to be the most overrated politician in American politics. She has a long history of making terrible , terrible decisions , we saw it again in her campaign which is why she lost. She snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
By the end of the campaign , both Evan Thomas of Newsweek and NPR's Nina Totenberg , came out and directly said she can't make decisions and she makes terrible decisions.
You have to evaluate people as verbs not as nouns , by what they do , not who they say they are. They she is viewed otherwise is an ongoing mystery to me.

Posted by: jes_fine | October 14, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

While not impossible, Clinton's nomination to the supreme court is highly unlikely. In the modern era, all successful nominees have been jurists and legal scholars. She is neither. What kind of rating would she get from the ABA? By most accounts, she is a fine senator, and she might make a good president, but a supreme court appointment is not in her future. I would bet she will run for re-election to the senate in 2012.

Posted by: wmw4 | October 14, 2008 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: parsonsscott | October 14, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Sec of state? Never in an Obama admin if it happens.If Obama looses,HIllary2012!

Posted by: ron1231 | October 14, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm afraid that her deliberate falsehoods about her Bosnia trip and her questionable ethics as a young attorney during the Watergate hearings may sink any chance of SCOTUS.

Posted by: DaveBrax | October 14, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

If Obama wins I think that in four years he may have to ask her to be his VP running mate. This might not sound logical but the econmoy is not going anywhere substantially in a positive direction for at least two years by then Obama may need to shake up the ticket to get reelected. Also, there is the possibility that Joe might stick his foot in his mouth. This may also encourage her to make a Presidential run in 2016.

Posted by: christm1600 | October 14, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

she has to stay in the Senate with the other criminals. We don't tolerate crooks on the court.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | October 14, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Hilary us a perfect fit for the U.S. Court.
She wants to leave a legacy and the court is the best place to do it. Court decisions are harder to overturn. Presidential decisions are easily overturned by new administrations.

She can better protect the rights of women as a Supreme Court Justice than as President of the U.S.

Posted by: Nevadaandy | October 14, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

She's doing great as a Senator.

She could easily run for POUSA in 8 years. 68 is young for a woman. Golda Meir was elected to PM in Israel at age 71 and served 5 years (brilliantly).

Posted by: wpost4112 | October 14, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

None has mentioned Sec. of State, on maybe even National Security Adviser. After Rice came up as one of the worst NSA's of all time, and the jury is out on her as SS, HRC would kick ass. Take that Putin!

Posted by: crossroadsnow | October 14, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't really want to see Clinton on the Supreme Court. Plus she'll be past 60 if and when Obama becomes President and it's typical to look for Supreme Court Justices in their 40's and 50's so they have a shot at lengthy tenure.

However, Secretary of Health and Human Services might be offered to her. It would be interesting to see whether she would accept.

Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN | October 14, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Hillary missed her chance to be Tonto - maybe she can be the sheriff somewhere.>........

Posted by: glclark4750 | October 14, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

"I'm surprised no one seems to have suggested that she serve as head of one of the Departments in an Obama administration, such as the Department of Health and Human Services"

Jeez, can we stop the Hillary pandering? She is not god. You want experts in these fields. You want people who have been working on this stuff forever and know the minutae inside and out. Hillary might be smart, but she's no expert in anything.

Posted by: DDAWD | October 14, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I think it't time for the Clintons to ride off into the sunset. I appreciate their service but now it's time for others to lead us forward.

Posted by: ngray2 | October 14, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I hope she runs again. If she does I think she'll be the favorite over a Joe Biden, Mark Warner, or Brian Schweitzer. I don't think anyone can argue she's done more for our country and Party to deserve that position above anyone else.
How great would it be that after eight years of a potential Obama presidency that it would be followed up with a Clinton one?
She won over a lot of people during the primary season. I think she would be tough for any Democrat to beat, and even tougher for a republican in eight years (if that party's still around).
SPC Jimmy Dunphy

Posted by: jdunph1 | October 14, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton will never be president or vice-president -- that is now certain.

Barack Obama will be a two-term president. As the article mentions, that puts her at 69 in 2016. Sorry to be a sexist woman, but as a woman, that makes her too old. Image is everything in our society, and an image of a shrill, 69-year old Clinton in pant suits that no longer hide her age won't cut the mustard with a yonger electorate.

Her loss, though, has opened the door to her best opportunity in her career -- to actually show us what she can do; to choose a cause and make a real difference, not a paper difference; a difference based on passion and commitment, not on a means to her other ambitions.

Her eleventh-hour support of Barack Obama smacks of more self-absorption: anything to prevent another woman from being the first vice-president; anything to buy herself a cabinate post on Obama's team.

But America will not forget her vicious campaign of untrue diversions thrown Obama's way, now taken up by Palin in a vacuous but treacherous frenzy.

So whatever her cause, she will better serve America by following it in the private sector.

Posted by: Neva1 | October 14, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

In my opinion, Sen. Clinton's strength lies in the Senate. With the ill health of Sen. Kennedy, Sen. Clinton is in the postion of accepting and carrying the liberal message. She has been an untiring advocate of the poor and of human rights. In this she could be a force for great change. On the other hand, she could and would serve admirably well on the Supreme Court. I do not think she should accept any cabinet position in an Obama administration.

Posted by: dpavsek | October 14, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised no one seems to have suggested that she serve as head of one of the Departments in an Obama administration, such as the Department of Health and Human Services, working to spearhead some type of universal healthcare for all Americans. This would enable her to move into more of an executive-type role. She could then realize her dream, albeit not as president.

Posted by: AtlantaSW | October 14, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Of the 4 options you give, NY Senator is indeed the likeliest. But there are others, and not just the SCOTUS. How about a Cabinet post under Obama? She could drive a big initiative like healthcare, or energy/global warming. Although I am not sure that Obama would want her in the Cabinet anymore than he did as VP. SCOTUS is actually attractive: real impact on policy, as long as she wants in office, intellectually stimulating, lead a resurgent wing of the Court...

Posted by: franckj1 | October 14, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton is quaified for either United States Secretary of State or US Attorny General. She has my vote for either.

Posted by: msreginacomcastnet | October 14, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton is one of the most intelligent people in politics today and has so many options open to her.

She could stay in the Senate and easily assume the role that Teddy Kennedy has played for so many years.

If the Democrats do reach 60 she could get a Supreme Court appointment and be confirmed should she want that.

She could eventually become the President of a major university should she want to do that.

She could re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment and spend time leading a revitalized woman's movement in this country and around the world.

She could retire after this term and just become even richer than she is and lead a great life as a senior political analyst on television. She clearly knows a hell of a lot more than most of the idiots who are doing it now.

I think the world is totally open to her. And should she decide to stay in the Senate and work on issues of interest to her she would still make a viable candidate for President in 2016 at the age of 69. Lets remember women live longer than men and if she is still healthy and interested I think that she can take her place on the world stage at that age.

In fact in a second Obama adminstration she could become Secretary of State

Posted by: peterdc | October 14, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

It is possible that SOME day she could be Senate majority leader , but first she would have to build up a number of "chits" with her colleagues. Her best bet is to be an excellent senator. She has a safe seat in NY.
All this talk about the Supreme Court is nonsense. She is less qualified as an attorney , much less judge than Harriet Myers was. A Supreme Court appointment is not a political patronage job. It is a lifetime appointment to teh highest court in the land and those appointed should be the very best. Once again, the Hillary supporters underestimate the extent to which she galvanizes the Republican base. I doubt that she could get confirmed. Besides, an appointment by President Obama would look like a political payoff or an attempt to pre-empt a challenge from Clinton.
Let go of the silly notion that she would be nominated, much less be a good choice.There are many, far more qualified female jurists in the country , on and off the bench, who should be considered for nomination before Hillary. Please get over teh Hillary fixation and let her be a really good senator. Lord knows there aren't enough of them now.

Posted by: jmsbh | October 14, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

The HRC-for-Supreme-Court argument has been floating around ever since the primaries concluded, and for the life of me, I still can't see the case for it. I say this as a liberal, an attorney, and a Court-watcher. If a President Obama wants to appoint a woman, he has many preferable choices, and should not choose HRC for the following reasons:

1. She's too old. Granted, she's not that old, but my point is that she's too old for the type of long-term influential Justice some Democrats would prefer. We want a pick that has the same potential for longevity as the Roberts, Alito, and Thomas picks. President Clinton made excellent selection in Justices Ginsburg and Breyer, but didn't wring full advantage from those vacancies. When you appoint Justices in their 60's and 70's, their impact--and thus YOUR impact--is diminished. I love Ginsburg and Breyer, but I'd rather have a Ginsburg that can serve for 30-40 years than one that can serve for at most 20.

2. She has no judicial experience. There are a great many qualified women that do. Sonia Sotomayor (2nd Circuit), Kim McLane Wardlaw (9th Circuit), and Diane Wood (7th Circuit) all fit the bill at the federal level, and there are many more serving on State Supreme Courts.

3. She hasn't established the academic bona fides. By this, I don't mean the schools she attended, which are unquestionably excellent. Nor do I question her intelligence. Rather, I mean that if a nominee has no judicial experience, then one needs to have some other intellectual record (read: publishing, a written record of analysis) to support an argument that the person is a heavyweight. I'm thinking here of Harvard Law Dean Elena Kagan, and former Stanford Law Dean Kathleen Sullivan (well, at least pre-CA Bar failure Kathleen Sullivan). While HRC is certainly intelligent, and we have her experience in the Senate and as First Lady, that's not the type of experience I'm imagining here. Her record is impressive, but it's the kind of record that suggests she'd be a good Senator, President, or other elected official. It's not the kind of record that suggests she belongs on the Court. In other words, she's a political heavyweight, but we don't know her judicial class.

Posted by: BlueOx | October 14, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

As a former Hillary supporter I would love to see here land in an even greater position of prominence. But as far as I can see the most likely desitination is the most "uninteresting". She will be the next Edward Kennedy; to much personal baggage for higher offices, but too intelligent and politically skilled to be ignored by either party in the Senate.

Posted by: bidalah | October 14, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

A syndicated daytime Judge show.

Posted by: bondjedi | October 14, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

What is all this about Clinton becoming a Supreme Court Justice? She has never even served on the bench. I don't know how common it is for a Justice to have no prior Judgeships, but all nine of the current ones. Hell, even O'Connor had a little bit of judgeship experience.

I have no idea whether Clinton would be any good (although I guess its hard to be worse than Thomas) but picking her would, at the least, be out of the ordinary.

Posted by: DDAWD | October 14, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Why can't you all leave her the f--k alone? Why are you all still bitter about her? Move on people....

Posted by: onehitwonder | October 14, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Give her Harry Reid's job. She would make a great Head of the Senate.

Posted by: thebobbob | October 14, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Talking head show on FOX opposite the MSNBC woman?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 14, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Bsimon -- rudy? How about Queen of England. Or maybe Zouk.

Posted by: drindl | October 14, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

If Senator Clinton is smart she will stick to her seat in the Senate where she could do a lot of good for her constituents. Ted Kennedy has the good sense to stay in the Senate where he has accomplished a great deal for his party and for his country. That's what politics should be the goal of becoming the "king of the hill".
Daria Case

Posted by: valleygirl1501 | October 14, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the early front-runners, I can't help but wonder...

What's next for Rudy Giulianni?


Posted by: bsimon1 | October 14, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Going from being the Queen of America to being 1 of 100 senators is probably not going to cut it for Hillary.

That's like asking Colin Powell to take the NSA position in the next cabinet.

Hillary can rule from Albany, while her husband makes ungodly sums of money - as special envoy to the middle east - in pipelineistan.

Posted by: jrob822 | October 14, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

To me, Majority Leader is actually more plausible than most of the other options. Harry Reid may be popular in Democratic circles in DC, but he's wildly unpopular in his home state.

He won re-election in 2004 with 61% of the vote, which seems impressive, until you realize that he didn't have a serious challenger. His popularity in Nevada has plummeted over the last four years or so, and is now in the mid 30s. The GOP will have a bullseye on Reid's back in 2010.

Being in New York, Clinton is reasonably insulated from losing enough favor with her constituents to put her seat in jeopardy.

Posted by: cam8 | October 14, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

You can tell that the Clintons now think Obama is going to win. They've come out of their cave and stopped pouting (well, Hillary has at least) long enough to work Penn. and elsewhere for Obama--putting in their bids for the political payola come January, as it were.

Posted by: greener_pastures | October 14, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I too think that she'll be Obama's first nominee for the Supreme Court. Here's why I think so: (1) BO has hinted that he wants someone with pragmatic legislative experience which she has; (2) BO is certainly aware of the loss of O'Connor and the inequity in having only one female justice; (3) her confirmation would be expected given her relationships in the Senate; (4) it would be a great exclamation point on a historic career -- her supporters would love it; (5) she is qualified both academically and intellectually; (6) she would be a stalwart ally on the court on liberal issues for years to come.

I had many criticisms of HRC during the primaries but I think she'd be a great SCT selection for BO.

Posted by: lavoinha | October 14, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

--"Although Clinton clearly has a future in politics, it's more difficult to see exactly what that future will be."--

Well I think you mean to say "I can't see any change in her future, other than becoming a force of nature in the Senate."

Posted by: DonJasper | October 14, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Though I did not appreciate the style of her campaign and I grew reluctant to listen to her, after a few C-Span rallies with Governor Palin, it's becoming a LOT more welcome to hear from the New York senator. Though she may have gotten a little heady and dizzy with her ambitions, she's had a humbling shock and may now be very much more welcome than before in Obama cabinet or in charge of healthcare reforms. We will see Obama's inclusiveness and Clinton's rebound very soon.

Posted by: GaiasChild | October 14, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

What about Supreme Court Justice? Secretary of State?

Posted by: thetruth31 | October 14, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Hillary can certainly stay in the Senate (and would probably be re-elected quite easily). There may be a Cabinet post in an Obama administration or a spot on the Supreme Court. I don't see her as being elected Senate Majority leader as she hasn't been around much in the Senate due to her campaign....

Posted by: RickJ | October 14, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Why not a cabinet post? or UN ambassador? The head of Health & Human Services seems like an obvious choice.

Posted by: ath28 | October 14, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I once again bow to your infinite wisdom, CC.

HRC has done a lot of good work in the Senate. She can do a lot more. The Senate needs another smart and fearless reformer.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | October 14, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Wow, really? Every week someone asks what's next for HRC? And who might that be, besides your pals on MSNBC? Here's something people are asking that you might be able to answer: How come, in your interactive poll map, a state that polls showing McCain leading by 6% (GA) is shown as 'leaning Republican' and yet not one, not two, but THREE states in which Obama has a higher margin (PA,IA,NH) are show as 'battleground'? How about answering THAT instead of trying to get into Matthews' good graces by looking in Hillary's underwear drawer again.

Posted by: drasmusesq | October 14, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I think HRC would make a fantastic Supreme Court nominee. She would be in an unprecedented position to put her policy expertise and intellectual acumen to work to affect policy. It would also allow her to get over the hurdle of the Republican Party machine that would wage an extraordinary effort in any general election to keep HRC from being elected President.

Posted by: capeeliz | October 14, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Ever wonder what would happen if MTV hosted a presidential debate, well now you get to find out.

Seems McCain may be asking Palin to take his place in the debate tonight.

Posted by: pastor123 | October 14, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Now, having posted a 'serious' response, I'll offer my true thoughts.

The Fix asks
"What's Next for HRC?"

Who cares?

Posted by: bsimon1 | October 14, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I still think Sen Clinton should focus on the Senate. Have that sit-down with Sen Kennedy & learn how to revise your ambition in the face of disappointment.

Posted by: bsimon1 | October 14, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

As is evidenced by the fact that the Clinton's first reaction to losing the democratic nomination, after having mismanaged their campaign into bankruptcy, was to ask poor and middle class America to pay off their campaign debts (when they have made over $100m in the past 8 yrs and will doubtless make more over the next 8), one can suspect that ***the Clintons want to make money***. Lots of money. Ungodly sums of money.

So Bill will ask for, if he hasn't already received, the post of special envoy to the middle east. That way he can run and profit from the next big deals in pipelineistan.

The Clintons are not tough to figure out. Money and Power.

Posted by: jrob822 | October 14, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I got one for ya... HRC for the Supreme Court! {WINK! WINK!} You betcha!

Posted by: AJ2008 | October 14, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Good idea, wrong person, Zouk. Now John McCain on Dancing with the Stars would be must-see TV for everyone. Did you see him sashay around that town hall debate? Put him on the dance floor and let's see what he can do.

Posted by: ManUnitdFan | October 14, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Dancing with the stars.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | October 14, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

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