Hillary Clinton runs to Puerto Rico, not the White House

Image: Hillary Clinton
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets well-wishers following an appearance with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 7, 2019, at Barnard College in New York. Copyright Kathy Willens AP
By Alex Seitz-Wald with NBC News Politics
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Those close to the former presidential contender are tamping down a report that she might be considering a bid.


WASHINGTON — People close to Hillary Clinton are downplaying a report that the former secretary of state is open to a possible presidential bid in 2020.

After CNN reported that Clinton has told friends she's leaving the door open on a third White House run, a source close to Clinton on Monday splashed cold water on the idea, telling NBC News that it "seems like supportive chatter from people and not much more than that."

It's not the first time Clinton aides and allies have scratched their heads about reports that she was eyeing a political comeback.

The loudest drumbeat of speculation about a Clinton 2020 bid has come from people not in a position to know and who may have ulterior motives in claiming to.

For instance, Mark Penn sparked a flurry of headlines in November when he wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal arguing not only that Clinton should run for president, but that she had already committed to a run.

Penn was once a top strategist for Clinton's 2008 presidential bid, but was banished years ago from her inner orbit after being saddled with much of the blame for her loss. He was not invited back to her 2016 campaign.

More recently, Penn has since become a vocal defender of President Donald Trump in the ongoing Russia probe, and promoter of some of the questionable criticism Trump lodges at Clinton during the 2016 campaign.

Conservative media outlets like Fox News, which continue to cover Clinton closely, have also given oxygen to the renewed 2020 speculation, with some Clinton allies seeing her as too useful of a villain for them to give up.

Whenever asked, Clinton herself has rejected the idea that she would run again. "No, I'm not going to run again," she said more than a year ago, giving a version of an answer she has repeated several times since.

And instead of visiting Iowa or New Hampshire, the former Democratic presidential nominee is currently in Puerto Rico with her husband, former president Bill Clinton, taking in a production of the musical "Hamilton" and supporting their foundation's recovery efforts from hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Still, she has acknowledged recently that she would still "like to be president" — though she proceeded that answer by saying "No. No," she did not want to run again.

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