Former President Bill Clinton visited “Good Morning America” Monday morning to weigh in on topics from the 2012 election to the Supreme Court’s pending decision on the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. No conversation that mentions Clinton, health care, and elections in the same sentence would be complete without asking, “Hillary 2016?”
President Clinton was as convincing in his denial as former President George H.W. Bush was in his recent endorsement of Mitt Romney. “I believe that she’s being absolutely honest with you when she says she doesn’t think she’ll go back into politics. But if she comes home and we do this foundation stuff for the rest of our lives, I’ll be happy; if she changes her mind and decides to run, I’ll be happy.”
There are four factors working against a “Hillary 2016” presidential run: age, money, electability, and history.
Hillary Clinton would be 69 on Election Day 2016. Only Ronald Reagan was older. And to put an updated spin on Lloyd Bentsen’s famous 1988 debate line, “Senator, you’re no Ronald Reagan.” Yes, she would be three years younger than John McCain when he secured the nomination in 2008. ButMcCain lost to a much younger, much more virile Barack Obama, who voters perceived as the future, not the past.
Winning elections, especially primary contests, is all about the money. The 2008 Clinton campaign ended the race just over $25 million in debt. Of that, half was money loaned to the campaign by Clinton herself, a loan she forgave.
Paying down the balance was further complicated by the Hatch Act, which prohibits Federal employees, which Clinton became when sworn in as Secretary of State, from directly soliciting or accepting campaign donations. The Clintons, however, reported income of $109 million between Bill leaving office in 2001 and Hillary beginning her campaign in 2007. The question is not if they can afford it, it is if they wish to spend it.
Would she actually win? Hillary won two easy Senate campaigns after the Republican frontrunners (Rudy Giuliani – 2000 and Jeanine Pirro – 2006) both dropped out leaving less well-funded political newcomers to face Clinton. There can be no disputing the 2008 Clinton campaign got caught off guard when it actually became a race, and ran poorly.
Mirroring the ballot qualification issues and delegate strategy shortcomings Rick Santorum has experienced in 2012, the 2008 Clinton campaign was not in it for the long haul. The difference being Santorum expected to be out by Super Tuesday, Hillary expected to be the nominee. Hillary has not proven the ability to win a tough fight.
Most importantly, history is not on her side. Since the election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, there have been five elections with an incumbent President not seeking re-election. The party of the incumbent lost four of those five. The lone exception was Bush v. Dukakis in 1988.
As Barack Obama showed Hillary Clinton in 2008, we Americans are a restless electorate.
We want change.