Hillary Clinton Still Mum On 2016, But She Hasn't Slowed Down
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
The bumper stickers shout: I'm ready for Hillary. The pins just say, Ready - with Clinton's face emblazoned above. The Ready for Hillary superPAC is in full gear. It raised one and a quarter million dollars in the first six months of the year. But, of course, Hillary Clinton hasn't yet said she's running for president, and the election is still more than three years away.
To talk about a potential Clinton candidacy, I'm joined by Amy Chozick, who's covering the Clintons for The New York Times. Amy, welcome to the program.
AMY CHOZICK: Hi. Thanks for having me.
BLOCK: Is the assumption, when you talk to people, that it's not if Clinton will run, but when?
CHOZICK: Yeah. I think so. I think people in her circle definitely think that she will run. I mean, of course, she had a health scare. She was hospitalized in January for a blood clot in her head, so there could be some circumstances that would prevent her from running. But I think at this point, they think - you know - all the polls show that she would be ahead, so why not?
BLOCK: Well, let's talk about the superPAC. Who is lining up behind her?
CHOZICK: Well, the superPAC is completely independent, and the Clinton camp is - has insisted that they have nothing to do with it. In fact, they think it's a little bit early for this. But there are some longtime Clinton loyalists - Harold Ickes and others, probably names you've heard since the White House - who have decided to just kind of do their own thing and start raising some money.
BLOCK: Do you think that inevitability - that sense of inevitability could work against her; and the notion that these are a lot of names from the Clinton White House who may bring baggage of their own with them?
CHOZICK: Yeah. Absolutely. I think there's a fear of Clinton fatigue, and so she definitely has to avoid that air of inevitability. That's hard to do, of course, when there's these independent PACs sprouting up.
BLOCK: Well, Hillary Clinton is really busy on the paid-speech circuit. She's been talking to conferences of everybody from private equity managers and car dealers and travel agents. How much is she making per speech - do you know? And what's her message in those speeches?
CHOZICK: Well, she makes about $200,000 per speech, which is in line with what her husband brings in with his paid speeches. And she usually gives a speech about her time at the State Department. And it's kind of a generic inspirational speech about leadership. She peppers it with her own experiences, and phrases like "leadership is a team sport" and "you can't win if you don't show up." It's probably in line with other, you know, Colin Powell's speeches, and these kind of standard speeches that are given, as you said, to trade groups.
BLOCK: Beyond the big money that she is pulling in, do these speeches become strategic if she does, ultimately, run for president?
CHOZICK: These speeches are very smart for a couple reasons. One - as you mention - she's bringing in an incredible salary doing these speeches; but she's also speaking to tens of thousands of people, largely under the radar. There is no political rival there debating her, and it's largely an apolitical setting. But these crowds are huge. There was one in Chicago with human resource managers, that I think was 12,000 people. And if she is laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign, it's a pretty smart way to do it.
BLOCK: Let's talk a bit about the most recent flap. NBC Entertainment has a four-hour Hillary Clinton miniseries in the works. It'll star Diane Lane. CNN is planning a Hillary Clinton documentary. And the Republican National Committee is angry about all this. What's going on?
CHOZICK: Yeah. It's interesting. Of course, Hillary Clinton's camp has no control over this. But there is a lot going on right now, with NBC planning a miniseries based on her life in the White House. And conservatives are already concerned about these; as you mentioned, CNN also has a documentary. And Republicans have already said to me: Is this going to start after Whitewater, and end before Benghazi? You know, they're already seeing a conspiracy in these films kind of setting her up in a positive way.
BLOCK: When you talk to political operatives and to Democrats, Amy, do they tell you that if Hillary Clinton were to run, that basically, that would be an - there would be an understanding that the other Democrats would clear the way, or would we expect a crowded primary fight?
CHOZICK: I think we can expect a primary fight. I think you've got Joe Biden; I think you've got Cuomo. And then, who knows who the upstarts are? But there will be a Democratic primary, and it could be contentious.
BLOCK: Amy Chozick, who covers the Clintons for The New York Times. Amy, thanks so much.
CHOZICK: Thanks for having me.
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