Tom Foreman | BIO
Just when you thought it was safe to watch political news again, take a look at those pictures of her and Obama standing hand in hand, and brace yourselves, Hillary haters.
All of you out there who are celebrating because her campaign is over, all of you who danced in your living rooms when she made her concession speech, all of you who said “Finally, the era of the Clintons is over.”
And all of you whose hearts were broken by her defeat; raise your eyes.
Because many political watchers here in DC are convinced Hillary Clinton is emerging from this election stronger than she went in, despite her loss... And they’ve got about 18 million reasons to think that way. 18 million voters chose her over Barack Obama. Think about that. Even in a country as large as ours, that is a staggering number of people, and in Washington that translates into clout. In every state where she won big, elected Democrats took notice. Now watch what happens. When those Dems are seeking re-election or grappling with big issues, odds are her name will be riding high on their Outlook contacts list.
All that cheerleading she is doing for Obama, brings some spoils of war with it. Insiders say former Clinton staff workers are taking new positions within Camp Obama every day. Her biggest supporters and donors are slowly stepping up to shake his hand. She is walking alongside him, and with every step she is gaining influence, respect, and power in the next administration if Obama wins the White House.
If she had lost badly, she would be scrabbling around for crumbs. But she played him to a near tie in the popular vote, and that is something that no one in the Democratic Party dares to ignore. If Democrats want to beat the Republicans, (and they do!) they suspect the Clinton Seal of Approval must be stamped on a fair amount of all that happens until November.
Because with that seal (and forgive me for bringing up the now sensitive subject of seals) comes access to the Clinton political machine; top level operatives who know how to rally support in the states where Obama did not connect so well, and with constituencies that he makes uneasy: Latinos, older working class voters, and some women. With Clinton approval comes experience in running a general election campaign against the Republicans; remember, Obama has never done that before and primary battles, like the one he just waged, are wholly different affairs. And with Clinton approval comes the former president, Bill Clinton. It is not yet clear, precisely, what role he will play, and considering all the kerfuffle he raised around his wife’s campaign, Obama may be understandably cautious about how he is deployed…but it is certainly better for Obama to have him on his side.
Make no mistake about it, Obama won the nomination. He came from absolutely nowhere to knock off a sure winner (that would be her,) and stun the Washington power players. He’s not about to give her a co-presidency now. Even all that talk of a Vice Presidential slot has grown muted.
But Hillary Clinton is, as it seems the Clintons always do, rapidly turning her defeat into political cabbage; chopping it ten different ways, slathering it with the sauce of consolation, rearranging it on the Capitol platter, and guess who looks like she is eating steak again?
18 million voters have a way of sweetening the deal for any politician, whether or not he or she ultimately wins the race.
The Clinton Empire over? The political oracles in DC are whispering: Don’t bet on it.
Editor's note: See Tom anchor This Week in Politics saturday 6PM and Sunday 2PM ET. This week, a special edition: The Clintons: what's next?
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