The editor and publisher of an election forecasting newsletter that has been dubbed “the bible of the political community” told Business Insider he’s “sceptical” Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016.
Charlie Cook, who heads the Cook Political Report, wrote about his doubts in a column for National Journal that was published on Monday. Cook’s column was mainly about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) potential GOP campaign, but there was an interesting tidbit on Clinton buried inside. In his piece on Perry, Cook predicted the odds of Clinton, who is widely considered the Democratic frontrunner, “passing up” on the race are “rising … to perhaps as high as 50-50.”
In a conversation with Business Insider on Wednesday, Cook explained the reasons for his increasing doubts about the inevitability of a Clinton campaign.
“I think the people who just assume that there is a 100% chance she’s running just fall into two categories, they’re the people that desperately want her to run and then they’re the people that just think she’s a robot,” Cook said.
Cook went on to explain he believes Clinton’s decision to run will be a “close call” that is “not so much politics as just about quality of life.”
“She’s got to decide, I can live in total comfort and affluence, I can do things around the world through the Clinton Global Initiative, I can not have people carping at me, not having to grovel … not having to beg for money, not having to kiss rear ends … and, you know, enjoy a grandkid,” said Cook. “The alternative is running for president, it’s just a miserable experience and no one has to explain to her what’s involved.”
Cook said his analysis of Clinton’s thinking was based on his experience with political campaigns as well as a conversation he had with “one of her very, very top people” about six to eight months ago. According to Cook, that person said there was about a 30% chance Clinton would decide not to run for president in 2016.
Since Cook’s conversation with the Clinton confidante, she went on a tour promoting her memoir “Hard Choices” that has been widely viewed as a soft launch for her potential campaign. Cook argued Clinton’s experiences on her book tour, which has subjected her to intense press coverage including criticism over her speaking fees and comments she made about her personal fortune, would have actually made her even less eager to run.
“I don’t think anything that’s happened in the past month or two will make it more likely. … The book tour was not a smashing success … sales weren’t exactly going crazy,” he explained. “This was going to be kind of an initial exercise for her to see, does she still like this? Is this really what she wants to do? And I don’t know that anything that happened would be encouraging for her to want to do this.”
Cook suggested the book tour would have given Clinton an “infinitesimal” reminder of what she would experience in 2016 and could lead her to question whether she still has “the appetite for doing this.” He also noted the media environment has changed since Clinton last ran for president in 2008 and is far different than what she experienced when she lead the State Department. Cook proceeded to rattle off some of the issues that resulted in some negative coverage during Clinton’s book tour.
“Lots of problematic questions, maybe not handling them in the optimal way, being criticised for having handled it, having a press corps that isn’t nearly as docile as the State dept press corps,” said Cook. “The totality of the experience is pretty ugly and she got just a tiny taste of it and has to decide now, do I really want to do this or not?”
Cook also pointed to the fact Clinton is 66-years-old, which he said would factor into her “quality of life” calculation.”
“People in their late 60’s don’t make nine year commitments lightly,” he said. “They think long and hard about it.”
However, Cook specified that he doesn’t think Clinton “would be too old to run” and merely believes her age could contribute to the way she evaluates the decision.
“She will be, on election day in 2016, precisely the same age Ronald Reagan was,” said Cook.
Cook also pointed out he’s not arguing Clinton shouldn’t be considered the Democratic frontrunner if she chooses to run. Instead, he’s suggesting the Clinton candidacy might not be the foregone conclusion many seem to think it is.
“If she feels up to running, she’ll do it and if she doesn’t, she won’t,” Cook explained. “If she runs, she would obviously be extremely diff to beat for the Democratic nomination.”
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