Watch Jeff Zeleny at 1:07 of the clip below. I thought we’d almost turned the corner on “Hillary 2020” nonsense.
But every now and then a little birdie pops up and starts chirping to remind us that she’s still out there. Watching. Waiting.
As tone-deaf as she is, it’s inconceivable to me that she actually believes she’d stand a chance at being handed the ball again after she fumbled 2016 at the goal line. Show me a scenario in which Democrats double down on her and her gruesome poll numbers instead of ordering one of the 50 other presidential options on their menu. Maybe in her mind it’s this: Primary voters deadlock six different ways; Biden collapses in the polls due to his old baggage; then Mueller coughs up something pointing to direct collusion between Trump and Russia three years ago. Hillary diehards race into the breach, screaming that she was robbed and deserves a do-over. A paralyzed Democratic electorate slowly begins to shift her way. Infuriated progressives vow to stay home this time, denied once again a nominee to their liking, then grudgingly relent and turn out for her anyway in the name of ousting Trump. Voila — President Clinton.
A lottttttt needs to go right for that scenario to happen, starting with a blockbuster Mueller report. But even if everything lined up, nothing would change the fact that she ran a poor campaign the first time. Nothing would take away her own baggage. Nothing would counter the argument that a presidential nomination isn’t a consolation prize, especially when you’re widely disliked among the public and your team wants to play its strongest hand to take back control of the White House from a despised adversary. A deadlocked Democratic primary is a recipe for a bland but broadly agreeable nominee like Amy Klobuchar, not human lightning rod Hillary Clinton.
I think the “Hillary’s keeping the door open” chatter is just a way to preserve what little relevance she still has in the coming primary. She’s been meeting with potential Democratic candidates. Obviously she wants her endorsement to be seen as prized. She may also be trying to hedge against becoming a whipping boy on the stump for her party. So long as she’s still kinda sorta relevant, with would-be nominees lining up to kiss her ring and diehard fans murmuring about a possible late entry into the race, populists like Bernie may avoid flogging her for alienating too many working-class voters last time. She’s doing what little she can to protect her legacy.