Hillary confirmed today that she is definitely not running for president ever again. “I am done with being a candidate but I am not done with politics because I literally believe our country’s future is at stake,” Clinton said in an interview.
But Doug Schoen, who worked on Hillary’s 2008 campaign, says that’s not enough. In a piece at the Hill, Schoen writes it is time for her to “step off” the stage:
Today, the likelihood of Clinton exiting the national spotlight and allowing a new generation of party leaders to emerge appears to be slim. Clinton’s continued effort to be a leading figure in the party could severely hurt chances for Democrats in 2018, as well as 2020. As I have said before, her terribly unclear agenda, lack of a plan for economic growth and distasteful attacks against Republicans all led to her inevitable loss. She simply does not stand for anything…
The Democratic Party must move on from Clinton and promote an alternative agenda. They need to put the past behind them and get back to work for the American people. Sticking to an unpopular candidate with an unpopular message will only leave the party continuously unpopular. Clinton’s self-promotion deters this process and intensifies the problems that Democrats already have…
To win in areas of the country like the Midwest, Democrats do not need star athletes or Hollywood celebrities, and they certainly do not need Hillary Clinton. It is time for her to step off the stage, find something productive to do and stop pointing fingers.
Hillary clearly wants to remain a leading force in the Democratic Party. Her book tour, her defensive TV appearances, her endorsement of Verrit and her launch of Onward Together all seem like the efforts of someone trying to lay claim to a seat at the table in future political battles, not someone settling into retirement.
It’s not hard to guess why Hillary might want to keep going. She lost a winnable race to a candidate the left hates. If she exits the stage now it’s pretty arguable that Trump’s presidency becomes the last word on her legacy. Hillary clearly is not ready to accept that.
So here’s some speculation about how she might do that: I think Hillary wants to take another run at Donald Trump in 2020, not as the candidate but as one of the leaders of the effort supporting the candidate. She will never be the first woman president but she could help elect the first woman president. And with that done and her party back in power, then she could retire at a high point. She may even have already had conversations along these lines with a potential 2020 candidate.
But as Doug Schoen points out, Hillary remains even less popular than Trump at this point. Her drive for some kind of personal redemption could wind up costing her party more than it helps. Plenty of Democrats are sending her signals that she’s not helping, but it seems as if she’s tuned them out.