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Hillary Clinton is out, but she won't be invisible

Hillary Clinton is out, but she won't be invisible
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Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAmerica departs Afghanistan as China arrives Young, diverse voters fueled Biden victory over Trump McConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' MORE is officially out as a 2020 presidential candidate. But that doesn't mean she’ll be invisible in the Democratic primary and the general election. 

Sources close to Clinton say the 2016 Democratic nominee will seek to be an active presence in the race by fundraising, working to unify a splintered party and even making an endorsement when the time is right.

“The trajectory is to do what she did in 2018 and more,” said one longtime Clinton friend, adding that she is still figuring out the best ways to be helpful.

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“I think that she is in a position to help the party come together, and depending on how things play out, that is something that she can do sooner than when she secured the nomination in 2016,” the friend added. “If Democratic voters and activists start to coalesce around someone early, she can play an important role in bringing candidates together around that individual.”

Sources say a primary endorsement could be on the table too, though it’s unclear when that might happen. 

“I imagine she would, but there’s a big difference between the week before Iowa and April,” said Philippe Reines, Clinton’s longtime adviser.  

For months, Democrats wondered if Clinton would run for president again.

While she said time and again that she wouldn’t make another bid for president, it seemed like she left herself some wiggle room to change her mind. 

But in an interview Monday, Clinton appeared to close the door for good.

“I'm not running, but I'm going to keep on working and speaking and standing up for what I believe,” Clinton, 71, said in an interview with News 12, a local New York television station. 

For now, Clinton is taking in the race from the sidelines, Reines said.

“The best way to describe Hillary right now is the same as millions of other Democrats: an undecided voter. She knows them all to varying degrees, considered some as her running mate, ran against some,” he said. 

“But she wants to hear their ideas, see them in action, decide who she believes is best suited to defeat Trump and start repairing the damage,” he added. “Once she does, she’s going to do everything she can to encourage her 17 million voters to follow suit and get every Democrat pulling for the nomination.”

That may prove to be easier said than done, particularly if the nominee is Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel On The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push Symone Sanders 'hurt' at being passed over for press secretary: report MORE (I-Vt.). 

Tensions have grown between the two former rivals and their aides. Sanders said last week that he would not seek advice from Clinton like other 2020 candidates have in recent months. 

“I think not,” he said on ABC’s “The View.” “Hillary and I have fundamental, you know, fundamental differences.” 

Clinton aides immediately scoffed at the comments. 

“I don’t know who our nominee is going to be but I am damn sure that beating Trump & getting America back on the right footing is going to require a unified Democratic Party, so crap like this 613 days before Election Day is irresponsible, counter-productive, & sets us all back,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill wrote on Twitter

Clinton allies have said in recent days that neither Clinton nor her husband thinks Sanders can defeat Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal MORE

In the past two months, Clinton met with many of the 2020 Democratic candidates, including former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Manchin, Biden huddle amid talk of breaking up T package Overnight Energy: 5 takeaways from the Colonial Pipeline attack | Colonial aims to 'substantially' restore pipeline operations by end of week | Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE and Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisOde to Mother's Day Warren says she'll run for reelection to Senate In honor of Mother's Day, lawmakers should pass the Momnibus Act MORE (Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns Warren says she'll run for reelection to Senate MORE (Mass.) and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThis week: Congressional leaders to meet with Biden amid GOP reckoning Democrats hit crucial stretch as filibuster fight looms Strengthen CBP regulations to reduce opioid deaths MORE (Minn.) to discuss their candidacies, according to CNN.

The meetings prove that candidates not only value Clinton’s advice but also want her endorsement, given her victory in the popular vote in 2016, when she won more than 65 million votes. Candidates also could tap into her much-coveted donor network. 

“She understands how important time and money is on a campaign and how important it is to beat Donald Trump,” the longtime friend said. 

Allies say she can play a big role in helping to heal a fractured party.

“I think she could be helpful in identifying ways to build bridges between the disparate factions of the party — fissures which, if they widen, could threaten the ultimate candidate's ability to win in 2020,” said one longtime adviser. “That would mean emphasizing issues where common ground exists as well as ideas for resolving differences over policy. 

“I am concerned about the party's leftward move, and while she may not feel the same concern about that, it will be important to keep the party — and its ultimate candidate — from being too far removed from the middle of the political spectrum, where the path to victory travels through,” the adviser added. “She and Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonNever underestimate Joe Biden Joe Biden demonstrates public health approach will solve America's ills McAuliffe rising again in Virginia MORE know from their histories and recent American history how important it is to build coalitions from the center out.”