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 ClintonDemocrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate Democrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate House Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally 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 SandersConfused by polls? Watch early primary states — not national numbers Confused by polls? Watch early primary states — not national numbers Biden leads in early voting states, followed by Warren, Sanders: poll 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 John TrumpTrump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Trump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment MORE

In the past two months, Clinton met with many of the 2020 Democratic candidates, including former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden calls for equal pay for US women's soccer team Biden calls for equal pay for US women's soccer team Yang: Standing next to Biden on debate stage would help boost name recognition MORE and Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBiden calls for equal pay for US women's soccer team Biden calls for equal pay for US women's soccer team Confused by polls? Watch early primary states — not national numbers MORE (Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden calls for equal pay for US women's soccer team Biden calls for equal pay for US women's soccer team Trump steadfast in denials as support for impeachment grows MORE (Mass.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Julián Castro defends going on Fox: I'm focused on 'the people out there watching' 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 ClintonCampaign dads fit fatherhood between presidential speeches Dems eye repeal of Justice rule barring presidential indictments Dems eye repeal of Justice rule barring presidential indictments MORE know from their histories and recent American history how important it is to build coalitions from the center out.”