- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has said she has “zero” interest in trading her Senate seat for a high-profile job in an Obama administration, but that hasn’t stopped some of her fervent supporters from dreaming.

Many women want to see her on the Supreme Court, largely to protect Roe v. Wade; health care advocates think she’d make an energetic secretary of Health and Human Services; and there is talk of her becoming secretary of State or ambassador to the United Nations.

“I know she’s going to take a big job with Obama,” said Mary Margaret Salkin, a beautician waiting to cast her vote in Lower Manhattan Tuesday.

“I don’t know if it will be a Cabinet job or something bigger, like, you know the Supreme Court. But he owes her after today,” she said.

In an Obama administration, some advocates say, it would be important to get someone with Mrs. Clinton’s passion and experience onto the Supreme Court to hold the center. Others think she would make an excellent substitute for the current majority leader of the Senate, Harry Reid of Nevada.

But the former first lady and runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination says she wants no part of that.

In an October appearance on the television show Fox & Friends, Mrs. Clinton said she has “zero” interest in a number of Washington jobs. “I’m not seeking any other position except for being the best senator for New York that I can be,” she said, a comment that her press staff and campaign advisers have repeated frequently.

“We have a majority leader who Senator Clinton respects and fully supports, and she’s looking forward to working with Reid and President Obama and a hopefully expanded Democratic majority in the [Senate] to bring about real solutions to the problems left in the wake of eight years of failed Bush policies,” wrote Clinton adviser Philippe Reines in an e-mail to The Washington Times.

Despite the fervent feedback, Mrs. Clinton may really not be eager to change jobs, now that the White House is out of reach for at least four and maybe eight years.

She is a popular and powerful senator, able to influence her peers by virtue of her committee appointments and her prodigious ability to campaign and raise funds. The junior senator from New York also seems to enjoy the upper chamber, where she serves on committees overseeing the armed services, environment and health, education and labor.

When not campaigning for office, she has been effective in voicing New York’s concerns, winning funding for projects as diverse as building the National Women’s Hall of Fame outside Rochester ($246,100), a downpayment for a future Second Avenue subway line in Manhattan ($168 million), cash to combat the hungry Asian Longhorned Beetle ($19 million), plus millions more for at-risk youth and recovery from the 9/11 attacks.

While there has been chatter about a top diplomatic post for the former first lady, “She’s not on the top of any list for secretary of state; her committee is armed services,” noted Jeff Laurenti, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation in New York. “I don’t think she would view the U.N. permanent representative to being comparable to what she can do in the U.S. Senate.”

Should Mr. Reid step down, however, “she has enough juice that she could be a contender for majority leader,” Mr. Laurenti said, “but I don’t know that lining up votes is what she wants to do in her life.”

Mr. Laurenti, who has advised the Obama campaign on foreign policy issues, said that Mrs. Clinton is more likely to want to quarterback health care and energy bills through the Senate. Given her passion regarding health care, she may seek to assume the role of the ailing senior senator from Massachusetts, Edward M. Kennedy, who is preparing a health care initiative of his own.

The New York Observer, a weekly newspaper with acute political antenna, plants the senator firmly on Capitol Hill.

“Mrs. Clinton is poised to become a giant in the Senate,” the Observer predicted.

If she does chose an adversarial role, the paper said, “the Democratic president is in for four rocky years.”

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