Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is the subject of accusations in court documents that her campaign spied on Donald Trump, but supporters in her party are shrugging off the claim ahead of her much-anticipated speech before the New York State Democratic Party Convention on Thursday.
Democrats say the bombshell accusations from special counsel John Durham are just more reckless attacks, and they won’t let it spoil daydreams about Mrs. Clinton standing in for President Biden in 2024 if necessary.
“I think this is going to be met with an eye roll,” Dora Leland, chairwoman of the Chemung County, New York, Democratic Committee, told The Washington Times. “People are tired, or at least Democrats are tired, of all the incessant attacks on her, and a lot of them just come up warrantless and without any basis in fact.”
Mrs. Clinton is scheduled to be a keynote speaker at the state party’s annual nominating convention in New York City this week amid chatter among some Democrats that she might make a comeback.
Democratic Party strategist Doug Schoen and former New York State Assembly member Andrew Stein wrote in The Wall Street Journal last month that, based on statements from Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, “We can infer … that Mrs. Clinton would seize the opportunity to run for president again if an opening presents itself.”
Speculation that Mrs. Clinton would jump back into presidential politics follows weeks of dismal polling for the Biden administration and congressional Democrats, who face potential disaster in the midterm elections. Questions have been raised about whether Mr. Biden, 79, will run for a second term and whether Vice President Kamala Harris has what it takes to top the ticket.
“If the midterms are as bad as they say they’re going to be for Democrats, then I believe the party will be looking for an alternate candidate than Biden,” Mrs. Leland said.
Aside from Mr. Biden, most of the lineup of potential 2024 candidates fizzled quickly in the 2020 Democratic primary elections. Ms. Harris quit the race before competing in any primaries or caucuses.
Mrs. Clinton, who served as secretary of state and was a U.S. senator from New York, could be in a position to fill the void if Mr. Biden steps aside.
In a People magazine interview in December, Mr. Clinton labeled his wife’s 2016 loss “one of the most profound mistakes we ever made” and called her “the most qualified person to run for office in my lifetime, including me.”
Mrs. Clinton hosts a podcast titled “You and Me Both,” featuring interviews with celebrities and political leaders. She has said nothing about getting back into politics but has warned in television interviews that the party should not abandon less-liberal Democrats by shifting too far to the left.
Although New York Democrats are skeptical of the rumors that Mrs. Clinton will run again, they acknowledge that she maintains a huge base of loyal followers who might be thrilled to see her make a third attempt at winning the White House.
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“I don’t know what the reaction would be, except that I know that she’s extremely popular, still, with the party faithful,” Erie County Democratic Committee Chair Jeremy Zellner said in an interview.
Democratic Party insiders cite several reasons why Mrs. Clinton is not likely to run, including her statements and a lineup of younger and more liberal Democrats who want a chance to win the nomination.
“I don’t know that she’s any less polarizing than she was in 2016,” Mrs. Leland said.
Democrats aren’t concerned about Mrs. Clinton becoming embroiled in a federal investigation of Democratic operatives spying on the Trump campaign and the Trump White House.
In a court document filed last week, Mr. Durham said he had evidence that the Clinton campaign paid for technology experts to access the Trump campaign and later White House computers to find damaging information about Mr. Trump to advance claims that he colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.
Trump supporters said the court filing reinforces their belief that Democrats spied on the Trump campaign and White House, but major media outlets, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, so far have ignored the bombshell court documents.
Instead, Democrats say, it’s Mr. Trump who deserves scrutiny for wrongdoing, including his role in encouraging U.S. Capitol rioters on Jan. 6, 2021.
Mrs. Clinton’s supporters, including Mr. Zellner, said her 2016 message and warning about a Trump presidency “resonates, if it’s not more clear today than ever, and that while Mr. Trump won the Electoral College, Mrs. Clinton surpassed him in the popular vote.”
“Let’s not forget that,” Mr. Zellner said. “Anything could happen in this political world, and I’m happy to have that discussion. And I remain a staunch supporter of Secretary Clinton.”