{{show_title_date || "Christie Clinton’s biggest competition in 2016?, 4/3/13, 2:59 PM ET"}}

Hillary Clinton is back in the public eye

After an exhausting term as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton has been on a well-deserved vacation. But she is edging her way back onto the public stage: Tuesday night she held her first public speaking engagement as a private citizen, headlining a gala for a human rights organization at the Kennedy Center.

With high approval ratings, near-universal name-recognition, and an address book stuffed with big donors, Clinton seems to have everything in her favor for a 2016 run.

But “Democrats don’t like do-over candidates,” said Cycle co-host Ari Melber on Wednesday. “The Republicans constantly nominate people who lost in previous cycles.” Indeed, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Bob Dole—even Ronald Reagan—all failed as GOP primary candidates before ultimately winning the party’s nomination.

Krystal Ball said she can’t “see anyone who can compete with her; she just has it locked down.” (Of course, that’s what everyone said at the start of the 2008 primary season too, in which Clinton faced some guy named Barack Obama.)

But let’s say Clinton does get the Democratic nomination. Who would be her toughest GOP opponent? Recent early polling shows her beating Senator Marco Rubio by 12 points, Senator Rand Paul by 11, and former Governor Jeb Bush by 16.

Her biggest threat is current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who polls at only 3 points behind her.

“I think he is the most dangerous Republican candidate out there,” Ball said. “I was somebody who was skeptical of him. I thought he only had regional appeal, but he has impressed me.” A Quinnipiac Poll  has his approval rating at 74%, the highest ever recorded for a New Jersey governor.

Melber said Clinton will be careful not to rush in, saying he doesn’t think “we are going to see [Clinton] say anything that can be constrained or misconstrued as running anytime soon.” In any case, Toure has already come up a campaign theme for her: “Women of America: it’s our turn.”