Published in Athens Views (print – no longer in circulation) on 19 September 2014
“Hello Iowa, I am back!” was the opening line of Hilary Clinton’s speech in Iowa which restarted the speculation of Hilary’s presidential candidacy in 2016. Her appearance in Senator Tom Harkin’s final Steak Fry, a public picnic and fundraiser, in Indianola, Iowa last weekend might not have been that coincidental. Iowa was the state the Hillary Clinton came in third during the Democratic primary run in 2008, behind Barack Obama (37.6%) and John Edwards (29.7%) with 29.5% of the vote; thus she might want to give the message that things will be different this time.
Hillary’s presidential candidacy speculation never really wore down even when she was the US Secretary of State during Barack Obama’s first presidential term. Although Hillary is very much loved by the US public and especially by Democrat voters, she has yet to confirm her candidacy. It might be too early, yet she does not have too much time as we are already at the middle of Obama’s second term.
If she decides to run, there are some obstacles that she will need to overcome to become president; her election at the Democratic Party’s primary, the Republican Party’s opponents, and the shaping of a clear political agenda. Although there are not many final candidacies at the moment, various polls started appearing since the beginning of this year.
Potential candidates of the Democratic Party include Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Vice-President Joe Biden, and the Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo. From those three Hillary clearly leads the polls with an estimate of 65%. Her most difficult opponent would be Joe Biden, a vice president who is rather close to the public. The Republican side on the other hand might be easier to win. Potential Republican Candidates include Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Governor of New Jersey Chris Cristie, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Paul Ryan who was the former republican Vice President nominee. Yet none of these seem to be a threat to Hillary as she leads all early polls at the moment.
The important issues is where Hillary has to focus and needs to formulate a clearer strategy. First of all she should have a stronger view on gender issues this time. During her 2008 run issues like LGBTQ rights or reproductive rights were not a priority on her agenda. But as the 2012 presidential run has shown things have changed. During the 2012 election gender issues were on top of the list at almost all important debates for both parties.
Additionally, although she is considered a rather popular Secretary of State she needs to start taking a more liberal stance as she has been criticised that she was closer to the neoconservative model of foreign policy of America’s exceptionalism rather than the ‘multipolar’ foreign policy that the current US President seems to prefer. Hillary’s foreign policy will probably be one of the issues the Republican Party will try to hit her hard with their all-time favourite issue– Benghazi, especially as she is now being accused of ordering her staff to get rid of documents concerning the incident.
As speculation rises Hillary clearly needs to make a final decision. If she decides to run she needs to have clear views on all important issues, she needs to be able to deconstruct any form of criticism, she needs to come even closer to the public, and she needs to be fiercer than ever. But first and foremost she needs to make the long awaited announcement. If all that happens no one would be capable enough to fight the “Hilary Machine”.