COMMENTARY | According to CNN, former President Bill Clinton is playing coy when it comes to a solid answer on whether his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will run for president in 2016. The question becomes increasingly pertinent as an improving economy and an ongoing and heated Republican primary heighten the chances of the Democratic incumbent being re-elected to the White House. With Obama likely holding the office until 2016, that election year will see a nonincumbent from both parties running as relative equals.
Hillary Clinton has an impressive resume, but her age and divisiveness make it unlikely she will run. She would be 69 years old on Election Day in 2016, the same age as Ronald Reagan, currently the oldest president, upon inauguration. In 2008 Republican nominee John McCain, at 72, faced scrutiny over his advanced age. It is unlikely Clinton would escape such scrutiny.
Age aside, Clinton's lengthy tenure in and around Washington might also play against her. Going from first lady to senator to secretary of state will brand Clinton as a "Washington insider" and "career politician." Obama, a fresh face in 2008, escaped such branding.
Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee for 2012, also escapes such branding because he was a governor and not a congressman. George W. Bush was a governor, as was Bill Clinton. Only in 1988, with the election of George H.W. Bush, did a "Washington insider" and "career politician" last take the White House.
Romney did not win the Republican nomination in 2008 but is back for more, and might finally eke out a victory. He is likely to lose the general election by a considerable margin because the GOP remains divided and many conservatives doubt Romney's mettle. Since Hillary Clinton failed to win the Democratic nomination in 2008, would she struggle in 2016 to clinch it just as Romney struggles today? I predict she will. Running too hard for an office smacks of desperation and greed, neither or which bodes well for a politician's reputation.