Failed 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is reportedly telling close advisers and friends that she hasn't fully "shut the door" on a 2020 presidential campaign.
CNN reports that Clinton "isn't ready to give up her Oval Office dreams."
"Clinton is telling people that she's not closing the doors to the idea of running in 2020," CNN reported Jeff Zeleny told the network Sunday morning on "Inside Politics." "I'm told by three people that as recently as this week, she was telling people that look, given all this news from the indictments, particularly the Roger Stone indictment, she talked to several people, saying 'look, I'm not closing the doors to this.'"
Although, Zeleny added, he does not believe "that there's a campaign-in-waiting, or a plan in the works," or that Clinton is likely to throw her hat into the ring for 2020 unless there's truly a dearth of qualified Democratic candidates.
That said, according to Zeleny, the rumor is a strong one. "I think we have to at least leave our mind open to the possibility that she is still talking about it. She wants to take on Trump. Could she win a Democratic primary to do it? I don't know the answer to that."
The answer to that is likely, "no." Unlike in the two previous contests Clinton entered, she would be competing against a strong field of Democratic contenders in 2020, each hell-bent on being the Democratic choice to dethrone President Donald Trump. And while the party may still be finding its footing, deciding where on the spectrum from progressive to moderate it wants to be while up against the Republican populist President, one thing is for certain: they're looking for fresh blood.
Several Democratic contenders, including Clinton's heir apparent, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), have approached the 2016 presidential candidate looking for help, advice, and access to the Clintons' massive fundraising network — a group of such high level donors, anyone with the Clinton blessing is likely to become the de facto front-runner. But Clinton has kept surprisingly quiet on which candidate she prefers to do the job she failed to do: unseat Donald Trump.
Clinton has regularly hinted at a third run for the nation's highest office, though her top advisers have told conflicting stories to the media. Early on, former Clinton staffers completely ruled out any possibility that Hillary would make another run in 2020, but of late, both Clinton and her close friends have been dropping hints to reporters that the door truly is not closed.
In November, two former Clinton advisers penned an op-ed virtually guaranteeing that Clinton would undertake a third presidential campaign, though the candidate distanced herself from those reports.
But according to Zeleny, Clinton believes that, although she lost quite spectacularly to Trump, and has yet to fully embrace the reasons for her failure — preferring instead to blame the country's supposed "sexism" and "racism" for her difficulties — there's still an argument to be made that she's the strongest candidate in the field, particularly given that she won the national popular vote in her last contest, even if she lost the Electoral College.
She may not be wrong. Gillibrand and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are "Clinton clones," couching moderate ideology in progressive rhetoric. Other than former Vice President Joe Biden, no male is polling close to the top. And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is already causing controversy with his threatened 2020 campaign — so much so that the Democratic National Committee may not tolerate a second run from the Vermont progressive.
Although the field is vast, no single candidate is strong, and Clinton must know that. But how ready is anyone for a third Clinton campaign? A recent poll has her being soundly beaten by both Biden and Sanders.