No, Hillary Clinton should not run for president in 2020

No, Hillary Clinton should not run for president in 2020
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Rumors are flying fast and furiously that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary Manafort sought to hurt Clinton 2016 campaign efforts in key states: NYT MORE is considering another run for the White House. But a casual observer of the political scene could be forgiven for thinking that the former secretary of state had already jumped into the race.

Recently there were as many or more mainstream and social media stories about the former first lady than there were about the declared Democratic presidential candidates.

The gossip about the possibility of a third Hillary Clinton presidential campaign originated with the concerns of big Democratic campaign donors about Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides MORE’s failure to take a firm hold on the nomination. The hope for a centrist candidate to prevent the nomination of progressive Senators Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides MORE (D-Mass.) or Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary MORE (I-Vt.) has landed on the shoulders of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.

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Her longtime spokesman, Philippe Reines, teased rumors of a Clinton 2020 race when he told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, “if she thought she had the best odds of beating Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE, I think she would think about it long and hard…”

While these rumors circulated, Clinton inserted herself directly into the Democratic fight when she suggested that one of the Democratic hopefuls, presumably Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardThe Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine Outsider candidates outpoll insider candidates Krystal Ball: Tulsi Gabbard surges, is she the most electable? MORE (D-Hawaii), was a Manchurian candidate who was carrying Russian water downstream into the 2020 presidential campaign. The Russians “are grooming her to be the third-party candidate," she said. "She’s the favorite of the Russians.”

I don’t believe in coincidences in politics, and it’s hard for me to believe that there’s not some design behind all the recent news about Clinton. There are a couple of possibilities.

Secretary Clinton is on a media tour promoting a book she co-wrote with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton. All the publicity about the possibility of a presidential campaign is certainly a boost for sales and her ego.

Or she might really be thinking about running for president, because recent events have vindicated her 2016 presidential campaign. Last week, the Trump State Department exonerated her of wrongdoing in the handling of her infamous emails. On top of that, Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior indicates that everything she said about candidate Trump in 2016 was true, so perhaps now she wants to prove it by beating him in 2020.

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Maybe she feels that she should join the campaign and rise to defend herself since her enemies on both the left and right are still beating her up three years after her campaign ended. Trump’s terrible twitter tantrums regularly vilify “Crooked Hillary.” Online supporters of Sanders still strike out at the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee for beating their champion out for the party’s presidential nomination.

Clinton does have assets that she could bank on if she chooses to run for president for a third time.

Clinton still has a strong following within the Democratic Party, and her warning about Trump's presidency seem prescient. If she defeated the fractured Democratic field, she would be in a better position to beat a beleaguered president in 2020 than she was to defeat candidate Trump in 2016. A victory would allow Clinton to have the last laugh.

As a former first lady who was an active partner in her husband’s presidency, former U.S. senator and secretary of state, Clinton’s political resume is unmatched. Her national security experience would be an asset in a presidency that she would dedicate to restoring American credibility on the international stage after Trump’s fractured foreign policy.

But the liabilities of a new Clinton candidacy outweigh the assets.

She may have won the popular vote by almost three million ballots in the last presidential election. But her decision to ignore the midwestern industrial states after she secured the nomination was one of the many tactical mistakes that stopped her from winning the electoral college majority necessary to stop Trump.

Hillary Clinton is 72 years old. The three frontrunners in the Democratic presidential race are Sanders at 78, Biden at 76 and Warren at 70. The Democrats need another seventy-something candidate as much as Donald Trump needs another scandal.

One of Trump’s major vulnerabilities heading into 2020 is his failure to deliver on his 2016 campaign promise to “drain the swamp.” The swamp creatures in Washington are bigger, uglier and scarier now than they were three Halloweens ago. Clinton is the ultimate Washington insider, which is more of a red flag to voters now than it was then.

Clinton is also an incredibly polarizing figure. Some people love her, and some people hate her. But she will be hard pressed to win over the independent voters who have soured on Trump and are looking to Democrats to provide a suitable alternative.

For these and other reasons, Clinton should – and probably will – pass on another presidential race. She won’t be president. But the events of the last three years have vindicated her.

Her dire warnings about the dangers of a Trump presidency have come to pass. The FBI and Donald Trump’s own department have absolved her of any wrongdoing for her email usage while she was secretary of state.

Hillary Clinton didn’t break the glass ceiling in 2016, but she put millions of cracks in it. If Warren or one of the other female Democratic candidates becomes president, she will owe a debt of gratitude to the 2016 Democratic standard bearer who was and always will be the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major political party.

Hillary Clinton’s legacy is safe and it’s time for her to quit while she’s still ahead.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Deadline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon.