Hillary Clinton has mostly stayed away from politics since stepping down as secretary of state two years ago, but she hinted Tuesday that her self-imposed exile may soon end.
Asked by a public radio station in Southern California Tuesday afternoon if she’ll run for president in 2016, Clinton replied that she’s focused on the 2014 midterm elections, saying she expects to be involved. “I strongly am committed to doing what I can to keep the Senate in Democratic hands,” she told KPCC’s Larry Mantle.
“After we’ve done everything we can for the 2014 elections, the Democratic Party, the country, we can turn our attention to the upcoming presidential race,” she explained, adding that she will “of course” be among those making a decision about running for president in 2016.
Democratic candidates across the country are clamoring to have Clinton campaign and fundraise for them. But so far, she’s stayed off the stump, except for a close friend – Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe – and a family member, former Pennsylvania Democratic congressional candidate Marjorie Margolies, Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law.
The former first lady and senator is currently on a tour promoting her new memoir, “Hard Choices,” but is expected to begin campaigning for candidates later this summer.
One Clinton ally told msnbc he expects she’ll be “crisscrossing the country” on behalf of Democrats after Labor Day, including stops in New Hampshire and Iowa, two key presidential primary states that each have competitive Senate races.
Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, has already vigorously campaigned for a number of Democratic Senate candidates, while groups aligned with Clinton like the Ready for Hillary super PAC have waded into 2014 as well with contributions and field operations.
In the KPCC interview, Clinton also responded to a jab from Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who is openly considering a presidential run himself.
Rubio, in an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition Tuesday, said Clinton is “extremely vulnerable on her record” and essentially called her old news. “I just think she’s a 20th century candidate,” he said. “I think she does not offer an agenda for moving America forward in the 21st century.”
Asked about his comments, Clinton brushed off the criticism of her record. “I wrote a whole book called ‘Hard Choices’ that details a lot of the important successes of the first term of President Obama – and maybe I should send a copy of it to my Republican friends,” she said with a laugh.
She went on to respond to Rubio by saying that elections are about both about the future and the experience candidates have, suggesting she has more. “I know that elections are about the future and I look forward in engaging in that kind of debate,” she added.
Mantle also pressed Clinton on whether the federal government should liberalize marijuana laws, an increasingly important issue among progressives activists after Colorado and Washington legalized the drug in 2012. Echoing her previous comments in the matter, Clinton said the federal government should give the states room to experiment, but that much more research is needed, since the drug is hardly harmless. She pointed to Colorado, which she said has already had problem with children getting their hands on edible marijuana products and with bad drug interactions.
“I think the feds should be attuned to the way marijuana is still used as a gateway drug and how the drug cartels from Latin America use marijuana to get footholds in states, so there can’t be a total absence of law enforcement,” she explained.