Inside Hillary Clinton’s Plan to Come Out of the Woods

he April 6 discussion between Hillary Clinton and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof at Tina Brown’s annual Women in the World Summit showed the candidate, after having suffered perhaps the most devastating loss in American political history, fully back to normal: a placid exterior not at all concealing the myriad calculations presumably taking place beneath as she plots her path back. “As a person,” she told Kristof, convincingly, “I’m fine. As an American, I’m pretty worried.”

Everyone in the room—along with everyone in the country—was concerned about where this worry might lead her. So the relief was almost audible when she crisply closed the door on a run for New York City mayor this fall, or, even more unlikely, a rematch with Donald Trump in 2020. She maintained, again convincingly, that elective office is behind her. Asked at the end of the 45-minute discussion if she has plans to run for office again (or to be president of UNICEF, of all things), Clinton said she had “no plans at all” to run again, for anything, and instead wanted to find “interesting things to do” like helping “Democrats take back Congress” and “supporting young people,” especially young women by encouraging them to run for office.

In the absence of the simple, unitary goal—the Oval Office—that has always pulled her and her allies forward, charting a new course is much more complicated. There is now a real-time debate inside Clintonworld about what her role should be in the face of what is obviously shaping up to be Trump’s disastrous presidency. Should she speak out on specific issues? Should she become a spokesman for the “I told you so” crowd? Or should she stay quiet, and allow a new generation of younger Democratic Party leaders to surface—anyone for Chris Murphy? Van Jones? Cory Booker?—to bask in the limelight that otherwise might go to her.

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Chris Alexakisgovernment