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Will other Dems step up to challenge Hillary 2016?

If you want to be president, you better be young—because you’ve got some waiting to do, Hardball host Chris Matthews declared on Monday night’s Hardball.

If you want to be president, you better be young—because you’ve got some waiting to do, Hardball host Chris Matthews declared on Monday night’s Hardball.

“If Hillary Clinton runs in 2016 and again in 2020, that means the job’s not open until 2024,” he said. That would mean a total of 16 years of Democrats in the White House, which is the longest run since FDR and Truman. And that also means there’s an “almost impossible” Democratic chance to win in 2024, said Matthews.

So does that mean there a lingering hope among Dems that Secretary Clinton won’t run? And if she does, is she beatable?

Indeed, a number of governors –like Martin O’Malley of Maryland and Andrew Cuomo of New York --gathered in D.C. over the weekend for the National Governors Association, touting their records and fueling speculation of potential White House bids.

Dems in the so-called waiting room, aside from O’Malley and Cuomo, include Vice President Joe Biden, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

“These guys…maybe a couple of senators, they look in the mirror they all see a potential president,” said msnbc political analyst David Corn of Mother Jones. “They’re not going to start acting on this. They want to make sure they’re going to, first off, do no harm—not do anything that would prevent them from running down the road.”

Corn said he wasn’t convinced Clinton would run in 2016, pointing out that she’d be 69 if she throws her hat into the race. “The last three presidents we’ve had have been 46, 54 and 47 when they took office. America has turned to younger, more vigorous people,” he told Matthews.

msnbc political analyst Joan Walsh of disagreed. “I would match Hillary Clinton’s sense of being capable of keeping a very vigorous schedule against anyone’s. The pace she has kept in the last four years, in the last eight years would tire any of us,” she said.

Walsh added that she thought the other potential Democratic candidates likely wouldn’t run if Clinton does. They “can’t be too obvious at this point. The gentlemanly thing or the smart political thing…is to wait and giver her a little space and respect and see what she does. But if she decides to run, I don’t think you see any of those guys that you mentioned in the race.”

Clinton’s popularity, of course, is through the roof. According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, she has a 61% favorability rating, with 34% of respondents saying they had an unfavorable view.

How long does Clinton have before she needs to make a decision about 2016? Corn said she has a “good year” before deciding. Walsh agreed. “I think she could afford to give speeches, read, talk, if she wants to write another book for a year. But I think by early next year, she probably has to --out of courtesy, out of a sense of decency to the party and other people who want to start assembling a team and run--she probably has to give a pretty serious indication of her intent,” she said.

Of course, Hillary was considered an unstoppable frontrunner and an inevitable winner once before: in 2008, before she lost a long, tough primary fight to a guy named Barack Obama.