Hillary Clinton’s leading supporters in New Hampshire are slinging arrows through a much-talked-about opinion piece that suggested the two-time presidential candidate would make a third run for the White House in 2020.
“I don’t think she’s running again,” incoming New Hampshire Senate President Donna Soucy, a four-term Democratic state senator who backed Clinton’s 2008 and 2016 presidential campaigns, told Fox News.
“I know the rumors floating out there that that’s a possibility,” Soucy added. “I don’t believe for a second that it is.”
Mark Penn, an adviser and pollster to Bill and Hillary Clinton from 1995-2008, made waves by predicting this month in the Wall Street Journal that Clinton would return in 2020 as a “liberal firebrand,” adding that she wouldn’t “let a little thing like two stunning defeats stand in the way of her claim to the White House.”
The article was instant ammunition for conservative pundits and the story generated a lot of buzz in the ensuing days.
The former first lady, U.S. senator, U.S. secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee has repeatedly shot down suggestions she’d make a third bid for president. But in an interview late last month with Recode, she left the door slightly open to the possibility, saying that even though she doesn’t wish to run, “I’d like to be president.”
Still, big Clinton backers in New Hampshire aren’t buying it.
Terry Shumaker, a leading New Hampshire based attorney who’s been a longtime friend and adviser to both Bill and Hillary Clinton, said he thinks “it’s highly unlikely that she would run.”
And Kathy Sullivan, a Democratic National Committee member from New Hampshire and longtime Hillary Clinton friend and top supporter, also shot down the story, saying “it’s just sheer speculation.”
“Hillary Clinton gave it her all in two races for president. I have a lot of respect for her. I’m just not going to get into a guessing game about whether she going to run or not going to run,” said Sullivan, a former longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party chair.
New Hampshire, the state that for a century’s held the first primary in the race for the White House, was long hallowed ground for the Clintons.
Following claims from former nightclub singer Gennifer Flowers that she had a 12-year affair with Bill Clinton, the then-Arkansas governor’s presidential campaign was at its lowest point in early February 1992, when he arrived in the Granite State.
But in a smoke-filled room at the Elks Lodge in Dover, Clinton appealed to the crowd for a chance at redemption, saying “I’ll never forget who gave me a second chance, and I’ll be there for you until the last dog dies.”
The speech went down in the annals of political history, and Clinton’s strong second-place showing in the primary made him “the comeback kid,” boosting his campaign and lifting him toward the Democratic nomination and eventually the presidency.
The state also resurrected his wife’s 2008 presidential campaign. Then-Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York was the favorite heading into the primary season, but stumbled into New Hampshire after a disappointing finish in Iowa. Clinton’s victory in the primary relaunched her into a historic marathon battle with eventual nominee Barack Obama.
But it was a different story eight years later, as Clinton was trounced in the state’s primary by independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a hero of the party’s left wing. Clinton eventually edged out Sanders for the Democratic nomination before losing the presidential election to Donald Trump.
If – and it’s a big if – Clinton does decide to run again, she could be part of a Democratic presidential field that could eventually reach to twenty or more candidates. And even her most ardent past supporters in New Hampshire don’t appear that they would be in any rush to back her once again.
Shumaker, who was with the Clintons during the former president’s first trips to New Hampshire in the 1992 campaign and who later served as U.S. ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, said of course he’d consider backing Hillary Clinton again if she launched another campaign.
“She would be a strong candidate I think,” he said.
But he added that “I have the luxury this time, for the first time in many cycles, to sit back and watch for a while and I intend to do that.”
Soucy said “I have the utmost respect for her (Clinton). I always will. I always consider her to be a trailblazer for women in politics.”
But she explained that there’s likely going to be “a huge field for 2020. I haven’t made any commitments. There are a lot of women (likely) running, which is great. There is a lot of diversity in the potential field of candidates, which I also think is great for our party.”