Hillary Clinton leaves her post as U.S. secretary of state today, and unless she is persuaded to change her mind, many who want her to run for president in 2016 just might be disappointed.
“I’m not thinking about anything like that right now,” Mrs. Clinton said earlier this week. “I am looking forward to finishing up my tenure as secretary of state and then catching up on about 20 years of sleep deprivation.”
Two decades ago, Secretary Clinton assumed a position on the wider national stage as the country’s first lady after Bill Clinton’s 1992 election. She was the third woman to become the nation’s top diplomat. Upon leaving the White House in 2001, Mrs. Clinton was elected twice to a New York seat in the U.S. Senate. In 2008, she came close to nabbing the Democratic presidential nomination. That year, she accepted President-elect Obama’s invitation to become secretary of state.
Her career has been widely recognized as stellar, including by Ohio politicians.
“She is the most traveled secretary of state, and that impact alone stands as a pillar to her services,” U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) said.
When she returned to work at the State Department after a month-long absence that began with the flu and included treatment for a concussion and blood clot, her colleagues gave her a football helmet and a jersey with the number “112” on the back. The number represents the 112 nations to which she has traveled.
“As our secretary of state, she has been an extremely capable diplomat and has worked to raise awareness about human rights around the world,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio). “Throughout her career, Hillary Clinton has been an exemplary public servant. I had the pleasure of serving with her in the Senate, where we worked together on a variety of issues, including ensuring workers’ rights during plant closings and increasing the availability of fresh farm food to underserved communities in Ohio, New York, and across the country.”
Others have taken note of her influence and chutzpah. Some women berated her for staying with ex-President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and in December, some claimed she feigned illness to avoid testifying about the September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. In her recent congressional testimony, she accepted full responsibility for the attack.
Despite the criticisms, debates as to whether she will run for president in 2016 are ongoing.
“Whether she runs is purely her choice,” Miss Kaptur said.
Others said she has laid the groundwork to try again.
“Whatever she sets her mind to, she can achieve,” state Sen. Edna Brown (D., Toledo) said. “She would be an outstanding candidate for that position. She has actually prepared for the position.”
Mrs. Clinton has no option, said Siobhan “Sam” Bennett, president and chief executive officer of the Washington-based Women’s Campaign Fund, which for 40 years has financially backed women seeking public office and works to remove barriers that hinder them from public leadership.
“I fully expect her to run for president,” Ms. Bennett said. “It only makes sense. She ran a superb race for president. [President] Obama just ran an even more superb race. ... She was a terrifically effective senator before that. She has been one of the most influential secretaries of state in history. Why on Earth would she not run for president again?”
State Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township) said that women of high stature such as Mrs. Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state under President George W. Bush, help other women see what’s available to them.
“Both serve as wonderful role models,” Ms. Sears said. And whether pursuing a liberal or conservative agenda, taking note of the roles women fill “starts a conversation as to why we are doing things with regards to women’s issues,” she added.
Throughout the years, 44 women have served in the 100-member U.S. Senate, and 20 women are now seated. More than 200 women have served in the 435-member House of Representatives, where 76 are now. There have been 36 female governors, including seven now in gubernatorial seats. Still, Ms. Bennett said there is little reason to boast.
“We are ranked 95th in the world in the number of women in elected office,” she said. “Cuba and Afghanistan have more women in elected office than we do. When we look at Germany and Brazil and Margaret Thatcher — we are so far behind other nations, and the reason women are important politically is they risk-take and decision-make very differently from [the way] men do, and that difference is the point and that difference is what is missing in our political process right now.”
Mrs. Clinton’s ability to survive controversy is proof of her grit, Miss Kaptur noted.
“In our country, running for public office herself and succeeding, and then attempting to become president of the United States, I think American young women and men grew through that process. And when she wasn’t a victor in the primary, she still served her country,” the representative said.
Contact Rose Russell at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6178.