early and often

Hillary Wants Something. Does She Even Know What It Is?


I would be so honored to be your grudging choice for vice-president.”Photo: Getty Images

In her speech last night at Baruch College, Hillary Clinton claimed she was “committed to uniting our party,” but at the same time refused to concede defeat or acknowledge Obama’s victory. Which is confusing a lot of people since, you know, the primary is over, and she didn’t win. Like Lost’s genius mastermind Ben, does Clinton have some kind of crazy scheme up her sleeve (or a time-travel chamber?) to wrest control of the nomination from Obama? Or is it simply that she’s angling for a spot on the ticket? As long as she’s still in the race, she’ll be a nuisance to Obama, and that annoyance, and the range of support she could eventually provide him, is her leverage. But despite giving a nod to the world’s exasperation last night (“I understand that that a lot of people are asking, ‘What does Hillary want? What does she want?’”), we still don’t really know.

• Howard Fineman has it on good authority that Clinton definitely does not want to be vice-president (been there, done that, more or less, as First Lady), and that Obama definitely doesn’t want her. Another thing Clinton doesn’t want: for Obama to pick another woman as VP. [Newsweek]

• Michael Crowley thinks Clinton may be trying to get back at Obama “for perceived slights against her.” Or maybe she has some “hidden goal, like the settling of her campaign debt.” Probably, though, Clinton simply wants to “relinquish the stage on her own terms, at a time of her own choosing.” [Stump/New Republic]

• Adam Nagourney writes that Clinton “used her final hours of the long primary season to make clear that she would be open to being Mr. Obama’s running mate.” [NYT]

• Roger Simon says Obama needs to show some backbone and deny Clinton a spot on the ticket. [Politico]

• Jake Tapper wonders whether Hillary and Bill would even submit to the type of intrusive, thorough vetting process that vice-presidential candidates must undergo. An unwillingness by Bill to answer questions about his finances, ties to the Saudis, donors to his library, etc., could be an out for the Obama campaign. [Political Punch/ABC News]

• Marc Ambinder hears from a close Clinton confidant that she doesn’t necessarily want to be VP but wouldn’t turn it down if it was offered to her because she “would not refuse a chance like that to serve her country.” [Atlantic]

• Andrew Sullivan thinks Clinton is maneuvering for a spot on the ticket — and if she doesn’t get it, she’s “clearly intent on getting Obama defeated this fall.” Even if she does become the vice-presidential candidate, she can claim a loss to McCain wasn’t her fault, and will run again in 2012. [Atlantic]

• Ben Smith notes Obama’s offer in his speech to make Clinton a central figure in reforming health care, which “seems plausible in a way the vice presidency, for a dozen reasons, doesn’t.” [Politico]

• Ezra Klein writes that as long as she stays in the race, Clinton “has the chance, no matter how slim, that lightning will strike, or scandal will hit, or tragedy will fall,” and she will step in and become the nominee. She knows it’s over, but “sees no upside in admitting the end.” [American Prospect]

• Maureen Dowd posits a few theories for why Clinton is open to being veep: She believes Obama is “too black, too weak and too elitist” to beat McCain and is waiting to say “I told you so.” Or maybe she’s banking on something terrible happening and wants to be just a heartbeat away from the presidency. [NYT]

• Joe Klein doesn’t think the way to earn a spot on the ticket is to “demand immediate negotiations and a commitment from Obama,” if becoming veep is really what Clinton wants. Instead, she should demonstrate her “whole-hearted support for Obama.” [Swampland/Time] —Dan Amira

Related: Last Night’s Three Victory Speeches

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

Hillary Wants Something. Does She Even Know What It Is?