Hillary isn't officially running for president (yet). But the outlines of her technically-not-a-presidential-campaign over the next few years are becoming more clear, thanks to, of all people, Anthony Weiner. At an event with BuzzFeed on Monday night, Weiner not only confirmed Clinton is running for president in 2016 on Monday night, but said he also knows what role his wife, Huma Abedin, will play in the campaign. When BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith asked if Weiner knows Abedin's plans for 2016, Weiner answered, "I do... I'm not telling you." Those comments offer some fresh grist for our speculation that his mayoral campaign was always intended more as a political bloodletting by getting his sexting news out before his wife faces the scrutiny of working for a presidential campaign than a serious comeback for the disgraced former Congressman. At least, Weiner sounded apologetica about it. "I feel that what I have done has hurt her. Hurt her professionally, hurt her personally," Weiner said.
The confessions of Weiner's latest sexting partner have brought Abedin her first bad press in pretty much her whole career. "The only way out for Abedin, as I see it, is to give up being the 'Good Wife,' dump Weiner and run for office on her own," Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn argued in July. But perhaps that was the point all along: If Weiner hadn't run for mayor, and become one of the summer news obsessions of 2013, it would have been Abedin who would be forced to face sexting questions on the campaign trail in 2015 – as a top aide to Clinton — or even later as a candidate herself. The professional damage she suffered would have come at the worst possible moment for her career. Instead, thanks to Weiner's mayoral campaign, by the time Hillary is stomping through state fairs in Iowa with Abedin by her side, Weiner's sexts will be old news.
While Weiner wouldn't say what Abedin is doing for Clinton in 2016, we have some clues already. Abedin has been running Clinton's transition team, which helped her move from the State Department to private life at the Clinton Foundation, now renamed the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The genius of Hillary's move to the foundation is that it will give her a platform to address the topical issues she wants, and a cause to campaign for, without forcing her to get sucked into dumb Washington fights, Politico's Maggie Haberman explains. Each Clinton has a chief of staff, and all three chiefs meet daily in the organization that is transitioning from "start-up" mode into something that will last after Bill Clinton dies. The foundation will act as "an organizational buffer from the press and the daily grind of politics" while giving her something more substantial to do with her time than what other unemployed presidential candidates, like Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, have done: give paid speeches.
Not that she won't be giving speeches! Clinton announced on Monday night that she will give a series of speeches over the next few months on the controversial issues of national security and transparency. The next one will be in Philadelphia in September. Clinton made the announcement while attacking "the phantom epidemic of 'voter fraud'" at the American Bar Association's conference in San Francisco.
In his Washington Post column on Tuesday, Richard Cohen says Clinton's embryonic campaign is has no message. "Will she say she’s been to where no secretary of state had ever been before — the Cook Islands, for instance?" he asks. "Will she echo the constant refrain from her State Department tenure — that she traveled more than any secretary of state in history, an astounding 956,733 miles, which is 38.42 times around the world and which, you have to concede, is a lot?" Her speech schedule and organization suggests this will not be the focus of Clinton's unofficial presidential campaign. The new Clinton infrastructure looks set up to avoid precisely that problem.
(Photos via Associated Press.)