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Enter Hillary Clinton? Trump, Roe prompt muted talk of White House run

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Hillary Clinton is having her biggest I-told-you-so moment to date. 

The overturning of Roe v. Wade by a Supreme Court that includes three judges nominated by Donald Trump, along with devastating Tuesday testimony to the Jan. 6 panel about the former president’s temper tantrums as a mob attacked the Capitol, have Clinton and his allies seeing new vindication in her 2016 warnings about the mistake of electing Trump.

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It’s made some wonder if a third bid for the White House for is possible. 

“This moment couldn’t be better for her,” said one former aide. “Everything she warned us about has happened, just as she said.”

One longtime adviser to Clinton said it’s in the realm of possibility if Biden chooses not to run. 

“I do not think she would challenge President Biden if he were to continue on the path of seeking reelection,” the longtime adviser said. “If he chose not to run, I imagine attention would focus on a number of potential candidates including Vice President [Kamala] Harris, of course but also Secretary Clinton, among others.

“I do think recent events have caused people to reflect anew on what happened in 2016, as to its impact on 2024, that’s harder to say,” the adviser said. 

The talk has been picked up in the media, partly because President Biden’s poll numbers are underwater and some Democrats have said he shouldn’t run for a second term due to his age.

Some Democrats have also acknowledged having a weak bench for the 2024 race. If Biden chooses not to run, some Democrats say they have their doubts about the viability of Harris against a candidate like Trump or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.  

Enter the discussion of Clinton. Again.

“The whispers of 2024 have started,” CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote earlier this week, citing a John Ellis, a conservative writer, who made the case that Clinton’s moment is now.

Earlier this week, a report in the New York Times indicated that few of Biden’s advisers “think she will mount a challenge against him” if he chooses to run again in 2024. 

In recent interviews, Clinton has poured cold water on the question of another run. 

Asked in a Financial Times interview earlier this month if she plans to run again, Clinton replied, “No, out of the question.” 

“First of all, I expect Biden to run,” Clinton continued. “He certainly intends to run. It would be very disruptive to challenge that.”

During a CBS This Morning interview earlier this week, Clinton also batted down the prospects.

“You know, I can’t imagine it,” she said. “I really can’t.”

“That’s not a ‘no,’” the show’s host Gayle King replied.

“What I can imagine is staying as active and outspoken as I can because I think our country is really on the precipice,” Clinton answered, skipping over King’s aside. 

The former secretary of State issued stark warnings on Trump during the 2016 race. She warned that Trump “pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade” even as some Democrats accused her of using scare tactics to shore up votes. 

In an interview with Charlie Rose that year, she said her rival had “laid out the most dangerous, reckless approach to being president,” something she and her campaign aides reiterated throughout much of the general election campaign.  

“All the evidence was there,” said Democratic strategist Karen Finney, who served as a senior aide on Clinton’s last presidential campaign and doesn’t think another run is in the cards. “In 2016, we certainly tried to make the case for a vision and about the way forward that was about respecting differences and protecting our rights.” 

While Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million votes, she lost the electoral college to Trump after losing key states including Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin. With that in mind, as Democrats mourn the loss of the landmark case Roe v. Wade, there are some in the party who think a third Clinton run would be a mistake. She lost to Trump before, goes the reasoning.

“The reason we’re here in the first place is because Hillary Clinton lost to Trump,” said one Democratic strategist. “We blew it. Why would we do that again? It’s shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Years later, Clinton loyalists remain a tight unit. Earlier this month, several dozens of her former campaign aides gathered at a bar in Northern Virginia to celebrate the anniversary of the day Clinton clinched the Democratic nomination in 2016. The former nominee appeared by video to address her former aides, according to one attendee. 

There was no discussion at the get-together about a possible run, with many aides saying another presidential bid will likely never happen. 

Still, “we all are having that ‘I told you so’ moment,” the former aide said pointing to the news cycles of the last week. “She was the best candidate then and she would still be the best candidate now. 

“I firmly believe she would have made the best president,” the former aide added. “I still think she’d make a great president.”