The president could name a secretary of state replacement for Hillary Clinton as early as this week.
For those convinced that Clinton's future includes more politics than episodes of Love It or List It, her appearance at the Saban Forum on Friday night set off another round of speculation. Clinton keynoted the three-day conference focused on the Middle East and hosted by Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban.
The most striking part of the evening was the highly-produced, 10-minute tribute video, which introduced Clinton and was packed with praise from past and present world leaders. The video ended with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying coyly, "For someone who knows a thing or two about political comebacks, I can tell you—I don't think we've heard the last of Hillary Clinton."
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair also chimed in, "I just have an instinct that the best is yet to come." Both observations were set to the strains of Bruno Mars, singing, "Girl, you're amazing, just the way you are."
Clinton also appeared in the video, describing the State Department job not so differently than she talked about running for president, when she launched her campaign back in 2007. "I think you have to do it face-to-face, eye-to-eye, listen to each other, really try to understand the other's point of view." In 2007, Clinton told supporters, "I'm not just starting a campaign, I'm beginning a conversation with you, with America."
The New Yorker's David Remnick came away from the Saban Forum convinced Hillary Clinton would run in 2016. "The film was like an international endorsement four years in advance of the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. The tone was so reverential that it resembled the sort of film that the Central Committee of the Communist Party might have produced for Leonid Brezhnev's retirement party if Leonid Brezhnev would only have retired and the Soviets had been in possession of advanced video technology," he said.
This week, Clinton is back to the more workmanlike parts of her job, on the first leg of a five-day trip to Europe. She's in the Czech Republic today trying to secure a $10 billion nuclear plant contract for U.S. energy company Westinghouse. She will then head to Brussels to persuade NATO allies to agree to station Patriot missiles in Turkey to protect the country from possible Syrian attacks. According to the State Department, Clinton has traveled 948,094 miles to 112 countries as America's top diplomat.
That State Department legacy is one Clinton aides fiercely protect. Observers have wondered why U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and not Clinton, was sent out on the September 16 Sunday shows to begin with. Republican critics have spent more time focused on Rice's recitation and interpretation of those talking points than they have the security lapses which may be traced back to the State Department. On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers signaled that may be changing, telling CBS News, "What went wrong was that the policy and decision-makers at Department of State did not make the right security call, and I argue it's gross negligence."
Clinton is not the only Democrat whose comings and goings are fueling the 2016 rumor mill. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, in Washington to headline the Gridiron Dinner, told CNN on Sunday that it's too early to discuss 2016, but then teased, "I'm governor of Montana until January. At that point, I'll no longer have a governor's mansion. I won't have a driver. I won't have security. So I'll have a little time on my hands. I think I did mention that I have a warm regard for the people of Iowa and New Hampshire."
Meanwhile, Politico reports that Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, whose 2016 ambitions are well-known, will be meeting with big donors in Los Angeles this week. The Democratic Governor's Association is set to elect a new chairman to replace O'Malley at the head of the group today. Politico also reports that O'Malley has a fundraiser in the Washington D.C. suburbs scheduled for December 10.