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 ClintonGOP struggles with retirement wave Overnight Energy: Trump to revoke California's tailpipe waiver | Democrats propose bill to revoke Trump endangered species rollback | Trump officials finalize rule allowing fewer inspectors at pork plants Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? 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 SandersJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency 2020 candidates keep fitness on track while on the trail Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? 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 TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE

In the past two months, Clinton met with many of the 2020 Democratic candidates, including former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency 2020 candidates keep fitness on track while on the trail Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? MORE and Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? Biden leads in new national poll, Warren close behind in second place MORE (Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? Katie Pavlich: The Democrats' desperate do-overs MORE (Mass.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharMark Mellman: The most important moment in history? Democrats press for action on election security Antitrust enforcers in turf war over Big Tech 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 ClintonRNC spokeswoman on 2020 GOP primary cancellations: 'This is not abnormal' Booker dismisses early surveys: 'If you're polling ahead right now, you should worry' Words matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump MORE know from their histories and recent American history how important it is to build coalitions from the center out.”