June 27th, 2008
04:51 PM ET

The Fall…and Rise of the Clinton Empire

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/27/art.obamaclinton.jpg]
Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

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?

Filed under: Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Raw Politics • Tom Foreman
soundoff (163 Responses)
  1. Teri

    Great article! I still believe that there should be an Obama/Clinton ticket IF the dems want the big house. There's no way Obama can win this without her – or former President Clinton. Like it or not – the underdog's on top!

    June 30, 2008 at 3:01 am |
  2. Ron Chapman and Family

    My family and I have been Democrats our entire lives.

    We will not vote for Barack Obama.


    June 30, 2008 at 1:38 am |
  3. BernieO

    What people often overlook is that Hillary did as well as she did despite the Clinton hatred permeating the mainstream media. This has been going on for a long time yet both Clintons have managed to survive and prosper because too many Americans, when given a chance to hear directly from the Clintons, like what they stand for. The celebration going on in the media over the supposed demise of the Clintons is unprofessional and bizarre. Does anyone think that there will be similar ecstasy over the demise of the Bush dynasty when George is out, even though the father was mediocre and the son has been a debacle.

    June 29, 2008 at 11:56 am |
  4. Carol 17

    No Hilliary VP on the ticket no Obama vote from me.

    June 29, 2008 at 11:53 am |
  5. Sean

    I hope that the Hillary Supporters come around and help get Barack Obama into the White House. After all, "Change You Can Believe In" is NOT voting for John McCain, which would be like the next term of George Bush. Hillary said it best: "George Bush and John MCCain are two sides of the same coin and that does not amount to a whole lot of Change."

    June 29, 2008 at 11:44 am |
  6. Tim

    To the supporters of Sen Clinton who is planning on voting for Mccain. Do you realize you are hurting Sen Clinton just as much as you are hurting Sen Obama. Sen Clinton does not want Mccain to be elected president. How can you say you believe in Sen Clinton and her policies and vote for someone who is the complete opposite of what she believes in. We as a country must step back and look at the big picture and realize that our country is at stake.

    June 28, 2008 at 11:20 am |
  7. Constance

    Hillary looked great as usual at the fake unity event. I doubt you will be seeing BO and Hillary on the same stage in the future. She has so much more experience, class, speaking ability, and depth and being on stage with her makes BO look like a poor choice. I love Hillary but will vote McCain in 2008

    Regarding the abortion issue that liberal Democrat men think they can use to snap women into line.
    1. Because paternity testing is now cheap and accurate (unlike 1970) men will not throw out the right to abortion because now women are not the only ones who will pay for unwanted pregnancy.
    2. The many formerly radical women who fought for abortion rights in 1970 are no longer fertile and could not possibly need an abortion making other issues more important to them, like a non sexist media.
    3. Birth control is more available, effective and safe than in 1970.

    June 28, 2008 at 11:18 am |
  8. Independent

    It is good that those 2 people have moved beyond their frustration.
    They are going to combine their force to save this sinking boat.

    June 28, 2008 at 10:35 am |
  9. gab

    Obama did not win anything – Obama was crowned by the media and the Democratic left-wing leaders. If he does not pick her as VP, I know one person here that will NEVER vote for him – and hopefully I speak for others!

    June 28, 2008 at 8:16 am |
  10. simple truth

    The truth is, we need to try something and someone else other then the republican party which has had its way with this country for 8 years now. The big question is, are we better off for it? I think most people would find it very hard to answer that question with anything except...No!

    June 28, 2008 at 8:16 am |
  11. Ron

    It's interesting to hear all this talk about Hillary being the VP for Obama. It would be the worst thing that he can do for "his" presidency. Why? Because Hillary likes the limelight too much to ever make it work. I don't believe she would ever accept being the second in command and have to work in the background. Being second fiddle is not in her personality.

    June 28, 2008 at 8:13 am |
  12. Wrensis

    What must really irk him is how badly he needs her support right now. All of a sudden his acceptance of gender politics is biting him in the butt. Lots of luck buddy

    June 28, 2008 at 8:12 am |
  13. Bobby from MS

    I hate to break it to all of you Hillary supporters but in several states Rush Limbaugh had his operation going and SEVERAL SEVERAL republicans voted for Hillary because even though she was the better canadite the whole goal was to have the Democrates fight to the death.

    Will she come back? Who cares! Liberal Democrates are destroying this country by giving rights to terrorist who try and kill Americans, to having law makers in MA say they will tear apart children who have been raped, to having the ACLU try and take away rights from Christians and only Christians, to not wanting to drill off the coast of the US to save the enviroment... oh wait China is already drilling there so the enviroment is getting destroyed anyway, ..... WOW wait to go.

    So as far as the Clintons or for that matter any democrate is concerned who really cares.

    June 28, 2008 at 8:12 am |
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