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Clinton's Next Step is Up for Debate - From Washington D.C.

Sep 03, 2010


By Michelle Jamrisko

As Illinois Senator Barack Obama officially proclaimed victory in the prolonged Democratic primary fight on June 3, the political future of his opponent, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, bore a giant question mark.

Clinton announced her official concession and endorsement of Obama on June 7, but continues to leave her next place of employment a mystery.

Reporters and political pundits have already begun intense speculation of Clinton’s second choice since her 18-month campaign failed to earn her the Democratic presidential nod. Clinton’s nomination was once widely deemed inevitable, and her fresh defeat has sparked several different ideas about her new role in American politics.

The most popular talking point for Clinton’s next step is the prospect of her earning the bottom slot on Obama’s ticket. The move would fulfill the so-called ‘’dream ticket'’ scenario that many Democrats have lauded as a fitting solution for a party that had such difficulty determining who would face Republican Senator John McCain for the fall election.

While an Obama-Clinton team might help allay Democratic concerns over party unity, some Clinton supporters are showing no sign of reconciliation. A quarter of Clinton supporters have pledged their general election votes for McCain, according to recent polls by CBS News and Gallup.

A Vice President Clinton might also bring considerable baggage to a campaign that has preached a promise of change in Washington. And if the Clintons were to move back into the White House, many analysts say, former President Bill Clinton likely would seize more power than any other vice presidential spouse in U.S. history.

Clinton, currently serving her second term in the Senate since her debut in 2001, might also consider a return to Congress to build power and influence. Such a decision would mimic senior Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, whose failed 1980 presidential nomination set him on track to be a respected Senate party elder.

Despite the once seemingly invincible power of the Clinton family in Democratic Party politics, the idea that Clinton would be anointed Senate majority leader upon her return garnered laughs from the current majority leader, Nevada Senator Harry Reid, who insisted recently that he is comfortable in his post.

Clinton could also represent New York in her capacity as governor if she were to run for the seat in 2010. One obstacle in her path to the gubernatorial title is current New York Governor David Paterson, a Clinton supporter who has earned enormous popularity in the wake of his predecessor’s resignation and who has already formed a committee assigned to his re-election campaign.

Clinton holds a law degree from Yale University and would qualify for a nomination to the Supreme Court, though her partisan image and her age make the selection by a potential President Obama unlikely.

Finally, Obama could find that the best way to incorporate Clinton into his prospective administration would be to offer her a position in his Cabinet. Clinton’s enthusiasm for universal healthcare and her mid-1990s efforts on the issue could earn her the top spot in the Department of Health and Human Services.

With many options to be weighed by each campaign, the candidates themselves are attempting to calm the chatter. Obama spoke for both final Democratic contenders when he asked that they be allowed to ‘’catch [their] breath'’ following the last primaries in South Dakota and Montana only a week ago.

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