|Hillary Clinton meets Irish Foreign Minister Eamonn Gilmore in Dublin|
DUBLIN -- Yes, Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016. That is the only conclusion I can come to after spending two days in Northern Ireland with the former first lady, U.S. senator, and soon to be former Secretary of State.
She is the best-qualified person in America to be president given that resume. You would have to go back to the time of Jefferson to find anyone with such qualifications.
And there is still fire in her belly and steel in the heart.
Though she will be 69 when the next election comes around, Hillary looks as fit and as ready for the fight as I have ever seen her.
Sure she is tired -- after one million miles and 115 countries who would not be? -- and yes, that hairstyle in recent months, or lack of one, has drawn lots of comments.
But all that is temporary, the closing act on one part of her career.
Don’t doubt the ambition or the desire. There has never been such a fiercely competitive couple as Bill and Hillary Clinton and they still have unfinished business.
An illustration in The Sunday Business Post in Dublin said it best, with Hillary as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz closing in on the White House seen at the end of the Yellow Brick Road, and Bill beside her as the Tin Man helping lead the way.
Last night in a small private dinner setting in a restaurant in Stephen’s Green in Dublin, surrounded by a dozen or so Irish Americans who have been with her on many campaigns, she made clear that the fire still burns.
She went around the table asking each of us for our memories from our Clinton campaign involvements.
I told her I remembered best that day in 1995 when she and her husband, as the president and first lady, came to Belfast for the Christmas tree lighting and to support the peace process, and the world in Northern Ireland was never the same afterwards.
When she spoke she remembered the Gerry Adams U.S. visa as the first major battle on Irish policy and how that was won. She remembered the many wonderful women who had inspired her in Northern Ireland, and how she has used the message of Northern Ireland to different groups learning to live together many times since in her job as secretary of state.
At the American Ireland Fund event in Belfast last Friday she made an astonishing offer to the group, essentially saying, put me to work on your behalf and on behalf of Ireland. It was a massive gesture and one that showed the depth of her commitment to Ireland.
One can only imagine how many offers she will get in the coming months to become involved in various causes. For her to choose and highlight the Irish one unbidden was a remarkable moment.
This Irish trip was not some one-day trip to Moneygall and a pleasant interlude as President Obama had in 2011, but another sign of the deep conviction and desire to help on Hillary’s part going all the way back to that first presidential trip to Ireland.
And yes, there were politics included. At one point she referred to her “current job.” We can surely guess what she wants her next job to be.
Four years is a lifetime in politics and much can happen in between.
But leaving Dublin I was in no doubt what Hillary wants to do come 2014 or so – and that is to announce she is running for president of the United States.