Clinton’s Countless Choices Hinge on One: 2016

Published December 8, 2012

You’re one of the most famous women on earth, and you’re jobless for the first time in decades. You’d like to make money, but you don’t want to rule out running for president. So what do you do all day?

Right now, aides and friends say, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s plan looks like this: exit the State Department shortly after Inauguration Day and then seclude herself to rest and reflect on what she wants to do for the next few years. Those who have invited her for 2013 engagements have been told not to even ask again until April or May.

She and her husband would like to buy a house in the Hamptons or upstate New York, several friends said, and Mrs. Clinton will finally have more time for everyday activities like exercise (last summer, between world crises, she was squeezing in 6 a.m. sessions at a pool with a trainer).

She is likely to use her husband’s foundation as at least a temporary perch, several former aides said, and she has been considering a new book — not a painful examination of her failed 2008 presidential bid, as she once proposed, but a more upbeat look at her time as secretary of state.

For the moment, Mrs. Clinton may appear to be a figure of nearly limitless possibility, and her name has come up for prestigious jobs: president of Yale University, head of George Soros’s foundation. But being Hillary Clinton is never a simple matter, and her next few years are less a blank check than an equation with multiple variables. Her status is singular but complicated: half an ex-presidential partnership, a woman at the peak of her influence who will soon find herself without portfolio, and an instant presidential front-runner (a title that did not work out well last time).

Mrs. Clinton may find that her freedom comes with one huge constraint. The more serious she is about 2016, the less she can do — no frank, seen-it-all memoir; no clients, commissions or controversial positions that could prove problematic. She will be under heavy scrutiny even by Clinton standards, discovering what it means to be a supposedly private citizen in the age of Twitter. With the election four years away — a political eon — she will have to tend and protect her popularity, and she may find herself in a cushy kind of limbo, unable to make many decisions about her life until she makes the big one about another White House try.

“If you’re thinking about running for president, does that affect everything else?” asked former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York, who once agonized over the same choice and whose son Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo may find his own prospects shaped by what Mrs. Clinton decides. “Yes. Once you make your decision, everything clears up.”

Still, Mrs. Clinton faces some immediate choices, which nearly two dozen current and former aides, friends and donors described:

Should she team up with her husband again?

Last summer, Bill Clinton expressed doubt about whether his wife would join forces with him at the foundation that bears his name. “She has to decide what’s best for her,” he said in an interview. “It might be better for her and she might have a bigger impact if she has a separate operation.”

The question is a fraught one. The climactic moment of Mrs. Clinton’s career came in 2000, when after years of supporting her husband’s campaigns and jobs, she struck out as a solo artist. Would rejoining his team be a step backward? Many aides said no. “She’s revered and admired as her own person,” said Lissa Muscatine, her longtime adviser.

Still, some former aides said it was difficult to imagine Mrs. Clinton comfortable at the foundation in its current form. It is organized entirely around the former president, the endowment is small, and even supporters acknowledge that it lacks the organization of, say, the Gates Foundation. The group has made strides lately, with a new director of fund-raising and more involvement from Chelsea Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton could do a trial run there, “testing the structure,” as one former aide put it. That way, she would have a home for the longtime advisers who are expected to stay with her. And by joining her husband’s operation, she could save the considerable time, money and effort it would take to start her own — which might be disbanded anyway if she runs in 2016.

Should she do what she wants or what makes the most political sense?

Of all the issues Mrs. Clinton has worked on over the years, the one nearest her heart is improving the status of women and children around the world. As the first lady of Arkansas, she brought Dr. Muhammad Yunus, later a Nobel Peace Prize winner, to set up a micro-lending program there. She turned her tenure as secretary of state into a sustained argument that women’s welfare is central to security and economic stability, championing projects like milk cooperatives in Malawi and support networks for self-employed women in India. Now her desire is to be “a professional advocate,” as her daughter put it to a reporter.

Ann Lewis, a longtime adviser, echoed that. “In the last four years, she has seen firsthand the difference she can make for women and girls,” she said.

But even if Mrs. Clinton returns full time to her activist feminist roots, it is not yet clear exactly where she would begin: the topic is diffuse by its very nature. Nor is a campaign for, say, safer cookstoves in China the obvious way to win over voters in Iowa — and her work could touch on issues, including reproductive health, that could prove sensitive.

But former aides say that Mrs. Clinton drew a lesson from her 2008 run: she believes that the country approves of her, and of female candidates in general, when they appear to be serving others rather than seeking power out of personal ambition. By that logic, Mrs. Clinton’s interest in helping poor women around the world would not hurt her politically in 2016 and might add to her current politician-above-politics luster.

Her former aides also agree that she was too cautious in the early months of her last campaign and hurt herself by hiding her real passions. Regardless of whether she runs, telling Mrs. Clinton not to focus on women would be like “telling Al Gore not to talk about the environment,” said Paul Begala, a longtime adviser to Mr. Clinton. (Mr. Gore did not always emphasize his knowledge on the subject in 2000, which later looked unwise.)

What is the most dignified way for her to make money?

Being a Clinton is expensive, and when the former secretary leaves office, she’ll want a staff and the ability to travel on private planes, friends say. The Clintons — who already own costly homes in Washington and Chappaqua, N.Y. — love renting in the Hamptons in the summer, according to friends, and buying their own home there could easily run well into the seven figures. Though friends say Mrs. Clinton could easily make a lot of money at a law firm, advising foreign countries on geopolitical risk, or at an investment bank or a private equity firm, none of those pursuits would be likely to wear well in a presidential campaign.

Instead, Mrs. Clinton is expected to take on lucrative speaking engagements — maybe even joint speeches with her husband, which could command record prices — and write one or more books. After she lost in 2008, she was on the cusp of signing with her old publishing house, Simon & Schuster, for a book about her failed bid, for slightly less than the $8 million advance she earned for her 2003 memoir, “Living History,” according to someone involved in the negotiations. In meetings to discuss the book, that person recalled, she was quite critical of Mr. Obama. But then he drafted her for his Cabinet — and it is unclear if she will ever share her true feelings about that race.

How should she navigate the nonstop speculation about 2016?

For her last presidential run, Mrs. Clinton declared her candidacy nearly two years before Election Day — but the timing did not feel right to her, because it made the race endless, say former aides who hint she would wait much longer if she made a bid again.

The enormously disciplined Mrs. Clinton has stuck to the same story in public and private: She’s not running. That is what she told Elie Wiesel, the Nobel laureate and an old friend, when she and her family dined with him recently, according to Mr. Wiesel. Others close to her emphasize that no one knows otherwise, not even Mrs. Clinton herself. “Be very wary of those pretending to bear actual knowledge,” said Philippe Reines, her State Department spokesman.

Bill Clinton, however, sometimes cannot keep himself from verbally gaming out another campaign for her, said a friend who recently spent time with him. “Every indication is that he would really want her to run,” the friend said.

The speculation is not without its advantages. If Mrs. Clinton is not running, she is a widely respected figure whose chief accomplishments are mostly behind her; if she may be running, she glows with White House and historic potential. “Nobody interacts with Hillary Clinton like she’s fading off into the sunset,” Mr. Reines said.

Michael Barbaro and Amy Chozick contributed reporting.

A version of this article appeared in print on December 9, 2012, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Clinton’s Countless Choices Hinge on One: 2016.

Posted by villager4ever

43 thoughts on “Clinton’s Countless Choices Hinge on One: 2016

  1. Helllo Everyone,

    Happy Birthday Taylor and many many more!!!!!!!!!!! Have a great time in Vegas and i hope you hit the big one LOL and we hear about on Fox LOL! Wow 12-12-12 that’s gotta be lucky.

    Normita, i have been hearing this story all week and we can only dream that she will run again and be The first Women POTUS! because we all know know she would show BHO what A real President is.

    i have been so busy keeping up with The Village Kids, i haven’t been able to be hear as much as i would like to!!

    But we love you all

    Teri and The Village Kids

  2. Teri and the Village Kids, the village glows when you are here. Stay busy, this is Christmastime. Joyous time!

    Our dreams will come true when our girl says, “Yes, I am proud to announce my candidacy for President of the United States.” Can you imagine the 18 million villagers who will come together again? God bless America.

  3. Thank you for the birthday wishes. I do like Las Vegas at the holidays with their lights and tinsel. We went to see an amazing show Le Reve last night that is similar to Cirque with swimming and water thrown in. Unlike Cirque none of the gymnasts are Oriental and muscled. They performed in a round theater with a pool in the center. Tonight we are going to the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Show.

    We sat next to a guy from Ireland about 40 and had a nice conversation. He had just come from LA where he visited with an American penpal that he had written to he was 10. Another interesting comment he said was that Americans need to move to Europe so they would have the time to see their country since Europeans have more vacation time.

  4. Good Morning, Villagers…lots of clouds on the cruise, cool temps, about 54 degrees and it’s a breezy day too!!

    Taylor….belated Happy Birthday to you and many, many moooorrreee! Las Vegas is the perfect spot to celebrate….so much to do….enjoy! About that Veteran’s Hospital you spoke of…I don’t visit any hospital except Stanford…so I can’t help with that…sorry.

    Christmas is up at my house…finally…now I need some presents to put under the tree…

    Enjoy your day….

  5. Good morning. Beautiful day here. It rained, and today the sky is crystal clear, deep blue.

    Normita, did you see the interview with Hillary and Barbara Walters? In that one Hillary said she really did not intend to run in 2016. She will be 69 in 2016. If I were her, I would not think going through the grilling process of a campaign fun at that age. Plus, I am reading that Bill is not that well. I think she wants a “global” job, one where she can address the global problems. I think she is tired of US politics.

  6. Anyone have any thoughts on the massacre in Connecticut? This is just evil. Why the children? Why the hatred to the schools?

    Everyone is up in arms talking about gun control again. I say we start a counter movement to really address the problem.

    The problem to me is our current lifestyle. Why do we let our adolescents spend their days with violent video games, see violent movies, take away God from our teaching? I would rather we work their buts off doing hard labor. We expect nothing from our kids. They while away their time thinking about all the bad things that have been done to them. Mom did not bake cookies every day for them to eat when they got home! With the teachings of the church, they learn respect for other human beings. What these agnostic, atheist liberals do not understand is that with nothing as a foundation for love and understanding, you get a lost culture of meaningless lives, and evil can easily creep in.

  7. No words can express how this incident occurred at a school. Yet the words from the politicians from a question on what to do about controlling guns that need a straight Yes or No are evasive to say the least. The WH said this is not the time, the CT senator a dem, said he will talk to his colleagues. These people from both sides are in bed with the industry who controls them instead of them protecting the citizens.

  8. The tragedy in CT is senseless and I agree that lifestyle, violence in movies, video games, TV and reality shows are major contributors. Lets ban those but Hollywood is protected. Actually mental health is probably at the center. Kids at my high school regularly had hunting guns in their cars but no one shot irresponsibly.

    I feel for the Newtown. There is no six degrees of separation in a community this small.

  9. We went to see the movie Lincoln which I recommend. It will add an historical perspective that was brushed over in our history classes.

  10. Really cold night here today, for L A standards. Snowing in the local HILLS. We are going to a Christmas dance tonight. Getting gussied up.

    But I can not stop thinking about those children in CT. Something needs to change. I have had enough of this. When I think that he mowed them down, just like they do in the video games they play. How many can you kill? more points if you kill the babies. Adults get points, but babies are double! He was the big winner that day. His name is first on the winners list. How cool can that be! I am sick to my stomach. I feel like the next time I see one of these kids playing these kill games I am taking a hammer to that game.

    I grew up amongst guns. All the people around me had guns, to hunt. These people would be the first to protect these babies, would be the last to hurt them. There has always been mental illness, but people were compassionate to those sick. The sick ones can tell the difference. Nowadays, even through our supposed belief to protect their civil liberties, we mostly laugh and ridicule their illness, all in a pretense to embrace their mental incapacities. We live in a very twisted, sick culture.

  11. After seeing Lincoln, the movie, I was haunted by the loss of lives during the war and was left questioning how we define greatness. So many times it is bestowed on overseers of war and tragedy. How much greater would Lincoln have been if he could have been able to achieve emancipation without the bloodshed. Do we give enough honor to hose who work silently to achieve change without the war?

    I think we should take a few days to purely honor those that were lost in CT before we begin the necessary task of addressing the why.

  12. Hello My Village Family,

    I too am very upset and mad about this loss of babies and good people (Heros) trying to save them!
    I can’t even try to pretend to say i can come close to feeling what they must be feeling!

    I’m with Mary on this i would love to help you hold the hammer as it goes down on those video games, with Shae being 13 now i see what kind of awful things are in this violent games and it is way tooooo much!
    And prayer out of schools and everything else.

    I feel just sick about this as i look at Star age 8 and Sunnyjune age 5 and can only imagine the pain!

    I just if CT knows any of these Victims or not? She is the 1st one i thought of the day this happened.

    Well i love each and everyone of you


  13. I finaly finished the boxes to my family this afternoon so I’m glad that is done. I gave all my nieces and nephews foldup laundry bags that they can keep in their suitcases for their travels. Scott and I have one that we have been using for 20+ years and it has traveled with us everywhere and has carried alot of dirty clothes. I always keep it folded and clean in our suitcase for the next trip.

    Normita, I heard that Sen. Daniel Inouye died today. May he RIP.

  14. I am so sick thinking of the babies of Newtown, it’s a nightmare to even think of so many innocent lives lost and the grieving families. I listened to the potus speech at the service. Accdg. to Wolf Blitzer the word ‘gun’ was never mentioned. Something must be done about guns in this country and it’s overdue.

  15. Taylor, I heard about Senator Daniel Inouye’s passing. I met him a few times while we were living in Hawaii and will never forget his kind smile and humility. When you talk to him, he was so focused on you as though there’s no one else around. Rest in peace. Aloha, Sen. Inouye.

  16. I will we would hear from Kathy and Tanya about Newtown. They may know someone, like Teri said.
    Maria posted in her Facebook about Hurricane Sandy that devastated New Jersey and now Sandy Brook Elementary in Newtown. Quite eerie, she said.

  17. You know, Normita, perhaps something needs to be done about guns, but the issue is bigger than the guns. Adam Lanza was a really sick person, could not relate to anyone for all his life. Have you read the comment posted by the woman ” I am Adam Lanza’s Mother”? Really chilling tale of her daily struggles with a 13 year old son who threatens her when he gets angry at being disciplined. He has pulled a knife on her to the point that she carries the knives for the home constantly with her. I am reading that Adam and his mother had the similar problem, he was extremely hard to deal with on a daily basis. We will never know if he threatened her life before this incident. His mother devoted her life to his care. As a child she would sleep outside his room because he wanted her there.

    So the question is who helps families like these? No one. The mother commenting on her 13 year old son relates the struggles she has to even get him medical help. We have turned our back on the mentally ill. The police will not intervene until he com mitts a tragic act. What is wrong with committing them to a mental institution for help? We hospitalize our sick children all the time. And the problem worsens when they reach 18 and are adults. They can only be hospitalized voluntarily. We know. My step daughter is bipolar. When she was in her 20s she rebelled, would stop her medication and turn manic. No one could control her, and we could not commit her. She had to step into the facility voluntarily. We got very creative on how to get her to do that. At times I feared for our safety.

  18. Guns are not the problem, people are. The moral fabric of this country is ripped to shreds and these shootings are a direct result of that. End of story.

  19. Hello everyone. I don’t need to tell you how much the events in Newtown has affected the state and especially the area we live in. Newtown is a short drive from where we live and in the next town over from Newtown is where my husband has his business. A few kids my husband recognized as customers. This is not the kind of town where anything like this happens. Its actually a very pretty, New England kind of place. There is little. if any, crime, no ghettos, not much of anything really except people living there. The town is known for their big flagpole for pete’s sake! Yet, this unspeakable tragedy happened here and a nation is grieving. We may never know what really happened or what caused the shooter to go on this senseless rampage against these babies. What I do hope is that something does happen from this. We need to something about the proliferation of guns in our society and we need to address mental illness in a way we have not done before. Could any family really care for someone who is has a death wish against everyone around him? I am not sure they can.

    I pray for the families who had their children and loved ones taken from them. I cannot begin to fathom their grief.
    Good night everyone and count your blessings.

  20. CT thanks for sharing your insights into the beauty of Newtown. I thought of you today when we saw a Virginia license plate that said 2CTKIDS. But a moment later I thought that everyone who sees the plate now will now think of the kids in Newtown. The key word you used was “senseless” and it appears that mental health may have contributed to the deaths just as it did it Tucson, VA Tech, Aurora, etc. Lets hope the country has a real discussion of all the issues. Just as you don’t leave matches around for young kids to accidentally burn down houses, guns are dangerous around the mentally challenged.

    What happenend in Newtown is part of the discussion but the slaughter happening in Chicago is also a part of the narrative. Over 400 people have been murdered in Chicago this year, a 25% increase. While Newtown appears to be related to mental health, what is happening in Chicago has completely different causes.

    After this Newtown tragedy, I am also hoping that families dealing with issues such as autism and Asperger syndrone are not immediately shunned out of fear. Two of my friends have children with these challenges and they work very hard to provide opportunities for growth for their kids.

  21. Hi CTKey, thank you for your insight. Taylor, yes, the killings in Chicago are not even noticed. I still think about that pretty little girl last summer that was gunned down sitting in front of her house.

  22. Did you know that because of killings in China, I think last year, of children and teacher, that guards are now posted in their schools?

  23. Good Morning, Villagers…crisp and cold, mostly blue skies, highs in the mid 50’s…there’s plenty of frost…remember Jack Frost???

    I have plenty to chime in about the tragedy in CT, but I chose not to right now…I, too, pray for the many little ones whose lives were cut short and those families that are grieving…this whole travesty is beyond words.

    Kathy you’ve been on the minds of many Villagers this past week…thank you for dropping in and sharing your thoughts…we do need to count our blessings…

    I’m in worldwind of activity…today, it’s baking til I drop…I hope you find time to enjoy what the season has to offer…

  24. I decided tonight that I will make Maryland Cream of Crab Soup and a nice salad for Christmast Eve. Then in the morning I will make Paula Dean’s Baked French Toast casserole that my family loves. It is convenient because you can maker it the night before. I will also make an egg and hashbrown casserole for our brunch since we skip dinner on Christmas.

    Karel, I still want to make some cookies but haven’t found the time. What did you bake?

  25. Taylor all your recipes are yummy. I wish I had a big family to eat them. This year I am standing down. When I bake or cook stuff like that there is only my husband and I to eat it. We had a great medical yearly physical this year, and I want to keep it that way. We had sandwiches, salad, and fruit for lunch. Light meals all week. We will have our holiday eating starting Saturday when we go out for dinner with friends, then a Christmas concert, then Christmas eating, and opening gifts that I know are full of goodies.
    So no cooking fir me this year.

  26. I took the time today to read about the heroic actions of the teachers and staff at Sandy Hook. It is hard to do without tears. After the VT murders, Virginia Tech did a very nice online memorial to honor the lives of the victims which I try to read at least once a year. I hope they find a way to honor the lives of the Sandy Hook victims as well.

    My friends who have lost children say their great fear is that their child will be forgotten so it is important to mention their names often and remember the good times.

  27. Good morning. Is it raining in SF yet? We have rain coming in tonight. I was reading that our reservoirs are finally filling up. It would have been disastrous if we had not had this rain this year.

  28. The snow they received in the MW was also welomed for the same reason but they need much more. All my family appear to be able to travel to the holiday events except my sister who had pneumonia last week and needs to rest.

    My son sent me a few pictures of their goats that they had taken for their Christmas card. I will probably email you a couple. I need to finish my wrappying and bagging as well.

  29. Merry Christmas to you all. Thank you for the cards I received, Mary, Teri, Karel and Taylor. I appreciate your thoughtfulness. My mind and heart are sad and stuck in the mire of deaths of innocents; and reliving my brother’s gunshooting death 25 years ago this December. I memorized the name of the children and teaching staff and am saying their names with each Hail Mary as I say my rosary prayers each day; also praying for all the helpers, responders, funeral director, medical examiner, etc. CT Key I loved what you wrote here a few days ago. Beautifully said.
    Normita, I continue to LOVE the softly floating snowflakes!

    Taylor, I am sorry I forgot your birthday and so auspicious one too 12/12/12..Happy Birthday dear friend.

  30. Hello My Dear Village Family,

    I wanted to tell you all that we love all of you.

    Have a Very Merry Christmas Eve and Day, we will open presents at my Mothers house since my uncle is still in a hospital bed at her house and its much easier.

    Wow i just got all the bags and packages wraped as i have to do it when the kids are not peeking around the corner LOL!
    But they are so excited they can hardly wait we open our gifts on Christmas Eve , as My Sisters Birthday is on Christmas Day.

    At Church tonight the kids went up to the pastor without my Sister knowing and they told him that their Meme is born on the same day as Jesus lol so he had the church sing Happy Birthday to her, and the kids were thrilled.

    God Bless all of you and God bless the families of Newtown!

    Love you Teri and The Village Kids

  31. Hi everyone. Merry,merry Christmas. Tanya, please don’t be so sad. The children who died are in heaven, it is the living parents for whom I mourn. My mother used to say that God will not give you a cross you can not bear, but this one is especially hard, may God bless them.

    Teri, in my mind I see you sneaking around to wrap presents, and it makes me smile. Those little sneaks need one with coal!

    Yes, Taylor, I hope your sister is better. We had our Christmas concert yesterday, and it was just wonderful. I invited my neighbor who just lost her husband, and we got her to smile and laugh. My stepdaughter who was hospitalized came to the concert in a new outfit looking good. We had our Santa too Teri ( my husband) sneaking around at the last minute last night wrapping presents, and then late last night we opened presents. I got a new sonogram picture of our grand baby in the other daughter’s Christmas card. So this year we have a lot of reasons to give thanks.

  32. Mary, I thought of Tom’s concerts and Karel, I thought of your sons artistic talent when we saw the Mannheim Christmas show that combined the orchestra talents with a a film interpretation of the music playing in the background. I loved the combination and thought of all the great talents that could be merged. It would also be interesting to experience how many different ways the music would be interpreted on film.

    Tanya, thank you for your birthday wishes. I just mailed a note to my friend whose 20 year old daughter died of cancer 7 years ago on Dec 27th. I sent these thoughts that I recently read: “A life well-lived leaves behind a beautiful bouquet of memories:.” Please share with the village a favorite memory bloom that your brother left with you.

    We start Christmas tonight. I have the table set and will start making the soup and salad shortly.

    A very Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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