Democrats say Hillary Clinton would leave void if she opts out of 2016

Democrats say Hillary Clinton would leave void if she opts out of 2016

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE has not missed a Democratic convention since 1968 and her conspicuous absence this year left some Democrats wondering who would fill her shoes if she skips a presidential run in 2016.

If Clinton retires from public service, Democrats say Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusObama cabinet official: Clinton White House doubled down on 'abusive behavior' John Roberts has tough job of keeping faith in Supreme Court Price was a disaster for HHS — Time for an administrator, not an ideologue MORE, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandDemocrats turn on Al Franken Report: Franken will resign Thursday Minnesota's largest newspaper calls on Franken to resign MORE (D-N.Y.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharFranken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Trump-free Kennedy Center Honors avoids politics MORE (D-Minn.) are considered potential successors.

ADVERTISEMENT
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democratic congresswoman from Florida, and Kamala Harris, California’s attorney general, who addressed the convention, also receive mentions.

But there is no obvious front-runner to become the first female Democratic nominee for president in the foreseeable future.

“It’s hard to predict right now. There are women who are outstanding members of the Senate, outstanding members of the House. Clearly Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Regulation: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court battle | Watchdog to investigate EPA chief's meeting with industry group | Ex-Volkswagen exec gets 7 years for emissions cheating Overnight Tech: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court fight | Warren backs bid to block AT&T, Time Warner merger | NC county refuses to pay ransom to hackers Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE if she’s elected to the Senate is someone who will have nationwide notoriety,” said former Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas), a one-time member of the House Democratic leadership.

University of Virginia  political scientist Larry Sabato describes the Democratic Party as the “mommy party” and the GOP as the “daddy party." More women than men have identified themselves as Democrats since at least 1983, according to the Center for the American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. In 2008, 56 percent of female voters backed Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaPatagonia files suit against Trump cuts to Utah monuments Former Dem Tenn. gov to launch Senate bid: report Eighth Franken accuser comes forward as Dems call for resignation MORE for the presidency.

Some Democrats are impatient for a woman to occupy the Oval Office.

“I would like to see a woman president, absolutely, and as soon as possible,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). 

Aside from Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) four-year reign as House Speaker, Clinton has been the most prominent female leader of the Democratic Party for the past 20 years.

The secretary of State has not revealed whether she will run for the White House in four years, saying only that she will not serve another term in Obama's administration if he wins in November. She watched her husband’s speech at the convention Wednesday night from East Timor, following the State Department’s tradition of keeping aloof from partisan politics.

Supporters of her 2008 campaign for the White House say they want her to make another bid, and scoff at questions about whether she might be too old. She would turn 69 years old shortly before Election Day 2016.

“She’s got more energy and stamina than all of us. A couple of years hasn’t changed that, she’s gotten stronger,” said Heather Podesta, a Democratic lobbyist and donor, on her way out of a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee lunch Wednesday. She supported Clinton’s 2008 campaign.

If Clinton opts out, however, there would be a vacuum atop a party that has become increasingly reliant on the support of female voters.

A recent poll for Lifetime Television conducted by pollsters Kellyanne Conway and Celinda Lake showed Obama had a 16-point advantage over Mitt Romney over likely female voters. 

Democratic officials have a ready list of women from their ranks they could see one day filling Clinton’s shoes.

“I always said Debbie Wasserman Schultz from my days in the House,” said Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate ethics panel resumes Menendez probe after judge declares mistrial Judge declares mistrial in Menendez bribery case Menendez jury deadlocked, ordered to keep trying MORE (D-N.J.), when asked about future presidential contenders. “She has proven herself to be an extraordinary advocate for things she believes in. People like Amy Klobuchar have an opportunity to do things like that.

“Kirsten is in that same universe. She comes from a great state and has had a fantastic rise,” he added in reference to Gillibrand.

“Kathleen Sebelius, Janet Napolitano. There are two good ones,” said Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenDems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress The Hill Interview: GOP chairman says ‘red flags’ surround Russian cyber firm Schumer celebrates New York Giants firing head coach: ‘About time’ MORE (D-N.H.).

Democrats see Gillibrand, who is running for reelection, as a strong contender because she represents a large and reliably Democratic state with a rich fundraising base. She reported $10.5 million in her campaign account at the end of June.

She also has Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAmerica isn't ready to let Sessions off his leash Schumer celebrates New York Giants firing head coach: ‘About time’ GOP should reject the left's pessimism and the deficit trigger MORE (D-N.Y.), one of the party’s smartest political strategists, as a mentor. Schumer on Thursday declined to comment on the 2016 race, and noted that Gillibrand said this week that she would not run then.

Gillibrand tamped down speculation about her future this week by telling reporters she had no interest in the presidency in 2016. Instead, she touted Clinton at an Iowa delegation breakfast Thursday.

Klobuchar and other possible White House hopefuls, Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank Comey back in the spotlight after Flynn makes a deal Warner: Every week another shoe drops in Russia investigation MORE (D-Va.) and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, visited the delegation earlier in the week. Iowa is traditionally the first contest of the presidential primary and helped vault Obama past Clinton in 2008.

But Democrats outside Washington’s official circles are less familiar with women other than Clinton who could play on the national stage.

“There are a number of rising stars. Sen. Gillibrand is doing a tremendous job,” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, CEO of MomsRising.org, who introduced first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaObama on social media: You’ve got to ‘think before you tweet’ MSNBC trolls Trump with video montage of Obama saying ‘Merry Christmas’ Overnight Regulation: USDA delays healthy school lunch requirements | Senate panel advances controversial environmental pick | Drone industry pushes to ease rules | Dem commish joins energy regulator MORE at an event held by the Women’s Caucus at the convention center.

Rowe-Finkbeiner said it was difficult to think of others.

“I don’t know. What are other people saying? The list of women in line to run for president needs to be much longer,” she said.