- The Washington Times - Monday, August 19, 2002

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says she will not run for president in 2004. Mrs. Clinton also made a commitment to New Yorkers that she would only consider the vice presidential spot if asked.
Well, during his 1990 campaign for governor, Bill Clinton told the voters of Arkansas that he would complete his full term if re-elected and not run for president in 1992. Two years later he was being sworn in on the U.S. Capitol steps. So much for commitments.
Politics is a brutal business of name identification, money and organization. Today, Mrs. Clinton has all three of these at her fingertips, while years from now she may not.
Hillary's name identification nationally is well over 90 percent today, but over time it will go down into the 70's or 80's. By 2008, there will be a new group of voters ages 18-25 that never voted for her or her husband. The lower her name identification, the more money she will need to get back what she already has today.
Presidential politics is also about windows of opportunity opening and closing on candidates. A missed opportunity by a presidential hopeful can never be made up. That is why Hillary will choose to run in 2004 and not wait until 2008. If Hillary Clinton decides not to run and a Democrat beats President Bush in 2004, she may have to wait a long time before her window opens again. And, while age is not a factor today, it could be in eight or 12 years.
Bill Clinton's national political machine still exists in all 50 states. Hillary can reclaim it and devastate Al Gore's operations at the same time. Bill Clinton's political machine was inherited, not earned, by Al Gore in 2000. Hillary Clinton just has to lay claim to it and she will carve off a large chunk of Al Gore's grassroots support.
This is equally true of her potential fundraising machine. Bill Clinton's national fundraising apparatus is still intact and could be in full swing for Hillary overnight when she announces her candidacy. Again, this devastates Al Gore.
Republicans may not like to hear it, but Democratic primary voters overwhelmingly support Bill Clinton. He still has star power. Hillary may end up reaping the rewards of standing by her man during his darkest hours. Today, Bill Clinton is Hillary's single biggest political asset. He is the No. 1 fundraiser for the Democrat party, and when Hillary decides to run, this fundraising juggernaut will move her straight to the top of the class. The Clinton scandals may be used ineffectively by her Democratic rivals, but will not be serious enough to stop her from winning the nomination. On the other hand, they clearly will be general-election issues. But, even if she loses in 2004, by running she will help insulate herself from these issues in the future.
No other candidate has the name identification and the national political and fundraising machines ready and waiting for them to announce their candidacy. Once announced, she can organize quickly and take the nomination from Al Gore. Other candidates may be able to put together organizations in Iowa and New Hampshire, but Hillary Clinton is the only candidate other than Al Gore that can mount a national campaign for the nomination. The Clintons' handpicked head of the DNC, Terry McAuliffe, can be a great help to her in 2004, but may not be in power the next time around.
Hillary Clinton is also clearly positioning herself to run for president. She recently attacked President Bush on the war, his handling of the economy and specifically corporate corruption. Looking to gain allies, she has also donated nearly a half-million dollars from her political action committee to Democrats running for the House and Senate. This amount is nearly twice as much as other potential nominees have doled out.
Another reason Hillary will not pass up this opportunity: She would have to run for re-election in New York in 2006 and face the prospect of a bruising and expensive race against a popular Gov. George Pataki or September 11 hero and former mayor Rudolph Giuliani. If Hillary loses, she is no longer a presidential contender and her window of opportunity may close permanently.
Today, Hillary comes in a close second to Al Gore in every major poll of 2004 Democrat presidential hopefuls. Former Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey finishes a distant third, and the rest of the lackluster pack is trailing far behind. Gore's support is soft and Hillary is not even a candidate yet. From this political reality, it is clear that only Hillary Clinton can keep the nomination from Al Gore.
Whether you love or hate Hillary Clinton, you must consider each of these important factors and come to the inevitable conclusion that she will be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004.

David N. Bossie is the President of Citizens United, the former Chief Investigator for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform and Oversight and the author of Prince Albert, The Life and Lies of Al Gore.

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