Clinton meetings fuel speculation over presidential bid

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Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Hillary Clinton

United States Senator Hillary Clinton has been holding discussions about and interviewing potential campaign staff for a White House bid in 2008. Clinton met with Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer Sunday about support if she chooses to run.

"She said before the election that after the election she would be considering a presidential run," said senior Clinton advisor Howard Wolfson. "Part of that process is seeking the advice and counsel of her colleagues in New York."

One New York Democrat, who asked to not be named, said he was recently called by a senior Clinton team member. While it was not said that Clinton had chosen to run for president, "it was pretty clear."

New York senior Senator Charles Schumer, Clinton's Democratic colleague, told Associated Press (AP) he would be meeting with Clinton in the next week.

"She wants to sit down and talk next week, which we're going to do. It could be about legislation. I have no idea what it's about, and until we sit down and talk that's all I'm going to say about it. I think she'd make a very good president but let's wait and see. Everyone's sort of jumping the gun."

Last week, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack announced he would seek the Democratic nomination. Indiana Democrat Senator Evan Bayh announced Sunday he is considering running for the White House.

Clinton tops every national poll of likely Democratic candidates and had tried to keep private many of her overtures to supporters and new staff. The deliberations have started to become more public in the last week as the field of likely contenders has begun to expand.

Illinois Senator Barack Obama, has attracted tremendous publicity around a possible run without committing himself. He has jumped to second place behind Clinton in many polls.

Obama's emergence as a potential contender has led some observers to suspect Clinton has stepped up her timetable for making a decision about a run. Her aides dismiss that notion, saying she is observing the timetable she has long planned.

Other likely candidates include 2004 nominee Senator John Kerry; his vice presidential running mate, former North Carolina Senator John Edwards; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; and Senators Joe Biden of Delaware and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut.