The woman who was one of the most polarising figures in American politics now has a glowing 65 per cent approval rating among Independents and healthy 57 per cent among Republicans.

Even sworn enemies on the Right marvelled at her toughness in refusing to concede to Obama until the bitter end in the summer of 2008 and now view her as more hawkish than the president…

Mrs Clinton can afford to be assiduously loyal because her critique of Obama – “a lot of talk, no action” is how she acidly described him in March last year – is already out there and increasingly resonant. She now has unassailable credentials in the one area where she appeared weak in 2008 – foreign policy.

She has been able to stay out of the contentious debates over health care, Wall Street bailouts and the spiraling deficit while her husband, confounding many, has been a low-key apparent model of propriety since she took over at Foggy Bottom.