A continuous example of a strong, educated, substantive woman, here is an excellent and fun article on Hilary Rodham Clinton from The New York Times Sunday:
Any Thoughts, Mrs. Clinton, on the Year After Next?
Image Source: Reuters
Hillary Rodham Clinton is accustomed to hearing The Question. So if you have a chance to ask it, make it count.
“Can you give us some insight into how the ‘T.B.D.’ in your bio will play out,” a University of Miami student asked Mrs. Clinton last week, a reference to the “to be determined” abbreviation she wrote about her future in her biography on Twitter, which limits responses to 140 characters. “Well, I’d really like to,” Mrs. Clinton replied. “But I have no characters left.”
Last fall, at an event at the University at Buffalo, the moderator asked Mrs. Clinton to “describe for us what the ideal candidate for the presidency would look like in three years.” She replied: “I am not as interested in what the candidate looks like as what the candidate stands for,” and then proceeded to describe Democratic policies.
As speculation grows about whether Mrs. Clinton will run for president again, in 2016, so too has a political parlor game of coming up with creative variations on the same question. The standard will-you-run inquiry no longer suffices. They come up at almost all of Mrs. Clinton’s many paid talks to trade groups, events related to her charitable work and at galas and awards ceremonies.
In interviews with Mrs. Clinton while she was still at the State Department, reporters routinely struck out by asking her directly about 2016. That continued after she left. “I haven’t made up my mind,” Mrs. Clinton told Barbara Walters of ABC News in December 2013. (“Hillary is a master at seemingly answering your question, but not answering,” Ms. Walters said in an interview.) The many non-journalists who have had the chance to grill Mrs. Clinton more recently usually try a fresh approach to the same old question. After all, if Barbara Walters cannot get an answer out of her, the head of the American Society of Travel Agents or the National Association of Realtors, two groups she has addressed in recent months, will surely have trouble, too.
“You’d end up with a blah ending if you said, ‘What are your plans for ’16?’ or ‘Are you in or are you out?’ ” said Dennis R. Black, a vice president at the University at Buffalo who oversees student events and did the interview with Mrs. Clinton there last fall. “You’d end the night without a little bit of splash.”
Mrs. Clinton’s staff does not typically impose limits on what can be asked at her appearances, though they have been known to gently remind interviewers that Mrs. Clinton tends to be long-winded in discussing policy. (“Ask a wonky question, get a wonky answer,” an aide has been known to warn moderators.) In her decades-long political career, Mrs. Clinton has fielded countless questions in congressional and grand jury hearings, from the Washington press corps and from voters in town hall meetings. But, lately, she faces the rhetorical challenge of answering (or not) the same question.
Mr. Black asked Colin Powell in 2005 and Al Gore in 2007 about their presidential ambitions when they spoke in Buffalo. Each gave a response, he said, that sounded as if it were “read off a 3-by-5 index card reviewed by staff in advance.” Mrs. Clinton, by contrast, seems to use her replies to show a witty, gracious side. She almost always responds with a careful but seemingly unscripted repartee that does not rule out a run, but also does not reveal anything particularly newsworthy.
At an event in December honoring Richard C. Holbrooke, the veteran diplomat who died in 2010, David M. Rubenstein, co-chief executive of the Carlyle Group, said he wanted to conclude the event with a question about the “P word.” Then, he asked: “Have you ever considered the opportunity to join a private equity firm?” Mrs. Clinton quipped: “Is that an offer?” The day after the Miami speech, over lunch with media executives at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan, Steven M. Gillon, a historian at the History Channel, said he had “one question about the future” and mentioned a recent New York Times poll showing that 82 percent of Democrats wanted the former first lady to be the party’s nominee in 2016. “You know, you can’t get 82 percent of Democrats to agree on what kind of day it is,” Mr. Gillon said.
“As I’ve said numerous times, I will make a decision at a later time,” Mrs. Clinton said, before Mr. Gillon even got the question out. “Obviously, it’s encouraging to have people be so positive,” she added.
Mrs. Clinton would not need to publicly declare her intentions until late this year or early 2015, according to most experts on the presidential campaign process, so the linguistic lingo could persist all year. That is, unless some enterprising interviewer gets her (or her husband or daughter) to flub and offer a revealing answer. There is no shortage of people trying.
After Chelsea Clinton delivered a speech at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s annual conference in Las Vegas last month, the microphone went to a young woman in the audience named Caitlin. “The obligatory question, slash inquiry, I hope that we can see some presidency endeavors from Clinton women, anybody agree?” she said, to applause.
Ms. Clinton has also honed a go-to response that usually involves a reference to a “crystal ball.” At the Las Vegas event, she said she “will support my mother in whatever she chooses to do” and that “my crystal ball is no clearer than yours.”
Mrs. Clinton’s talk with the National Auto Dealers Association in January made headlines when she said the 2012 attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi, Libya, was the “biggest regret” of her tenure at the State Department.
But Dave Westcott, a Buick dealer in Burlington, N.C., and the former chairman of the dealers association who conducted the interview, did not expect Mrs. Clinton to make the biggest news — about whether or not she would run. “I’d think she’d pick a venue better than a bunch of car dealers for that,” he said later by phone.
Still, like most interviewers, he ended the event by asking the question on everyone’s mind. She responded, predictably, that it was far too early to think about the 2016 presidential campaign.
Then, as the two walked off the stage, Mr. Westcott whispered in her ear. “I didn’t hear a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ out of that answer,” he recalled saying. That time she did not respond at all. She just shot him a wink before moving on to the next event.
An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the university where Mrs. Clinton spoke at an event last fall. It is the University at Buffalo, which is part of the State University of New York system; it is not the University of Buffalo.
For the original article, click here.