President Barack Obama says voters want a “new car smell” in the 2016 White House race and that Hillary Rodham Clinton would be “a great president.”
But would Clinton pass that particular smell test?
In a nationally televised interview broadcast Sunday, Obama seemed to suggest that any Democrat other than him would provide the turn of the page that he says voters are interested in. He acknowledged the “dings” to his own political standing during nearly six years of sometimes bruising battles with Congress and said Americans will want something new.
“They want to drive something off the lot that doesn’t have as much mileage as me,” Obama said in the interview with ABC’s “This Week,” which was taped Friday in Las Vegas following a public appearance there by the president.
He said a number of possible Democratic candidates would make “terrific presidents,” but Hillary Clinton is the only one he mentioned by name. He said she would be a “formidable candidate” and make “a great president” if she decides to run a second time.
But if she does run — which she is considering, with a decision expected to be announced early next year — would she have that “new car” scent for voters?
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill declined comment on the ABC interview.
Hillary Clinton has been a powerful force in Democratic politics for many years, beginning as Arkansas’ first lady before she became America’s first lady after her husband, Bill Clinton, was elected president in 1992. When his two terms were up, she ran for and won a U.S. Senate seat from New York.
She later sought and lost the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination to Obama, then cemented her worldwide profile by serving Obama as secretary of state in his first term. The Democratic political establishment is now awaiting word on whether she will take on the challenge of another national political campaign.
New car smell or not, Democratic voters hold her in such high regard that she outdistances anyone else in polling of possible Democratic candidates for 2016. One of them is Vice President Joe Biden, who has not ruled out a third run for the White House.
Eight in 10 Democrats held positive views of Clinton in an Associated Press-GfK poll conducted in late July. Biden had a 71 percent favorable rating in the survey.
Obama acknowledged that Hillary Clinton won’t agree with him on everything, suggesting that such a stance would be a welcome break for voters after eight years of Obama. A benefit of running for president, he said, “is you can stake out your own positions.”
The 2016 presidential race could feature a repeat face-off between a Clinton and a member of another leading American political family: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is considering entering the 2016 race. His father and brother both were elected president.
Three of the past four presidents dating to the 1988 election have been named Bush or Clinton.
Jeb Bush’s father, George H. W. Bush, was elected president in 1988. He lost re-election in 1992 to Bill Clinton, who served two terms. Jeb Bush’s brother, George W., then defeated Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore, in 2000 and was re-elected in 2004. The elder Bush also served two terms as vice president to Ronald Reagan.
In the AP-GfK survey, Jeb Bush was most popular among potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates, with 56 percent of Republicans viewing him favorably. Majorities also held positive views of outgoing Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
AP National Political Reporter Ken Thomas contributed to this report.
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