Don’t talk to Hillary Clinton about 2016, at least not right now

Posted at 10:02 PM, Dec 05, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-05 22:33:04-05

Washington (CNN) — Hillary Clinton clearly has a lot of thinking to do once her time ends at the State Department. And it appears there is no shortage of sounding boards in Washington should she decide to seek the presidency in 2016.

Democratic strategist and CNN Contributor Hilary Rosen bantered briefly with Clinton before the November election about the prospect of a second run for the White House. It was a “sign me up for that” type of chat which, Rosen cautions, did not last long.

“Well, I have talked to her about it and I’ve been shut down,” Rosen said. “She feels strongly about ending her term as secretary of state. You know, with as much grace and effectiveness as possible,” she added.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll has renewed speculation about a Clinton candidacy. According to the poll, 57% of Americans would support the former first lady and U.S. senator while 37% said they would oppose another Clinton run.

Clinton has said repeatedly that she won’t be a candidate in 2016.

“Look, I’m flattered. I am honored. That is not in the future for me,” she told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last April.

The denials have done little to tamp down the chatter in the capital.

At a conference on U.S. Israeli issues last weekend, Clinton’s supporters played a tribute video honoring her time at the State Department. The video, which had the feel of a campaign ad, included gushing cameos from President Barack Obama to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Clinton appeared to be enjoying the moment.

“I’ve prepared some remarks for tonight. But maybe we could just watch that video a few more times,” she joked.

But Kiki McLean, a former senior adviser to Clinton’s last presidential campaign, said it’s unlikely Clinton is anywhere near a decision.

“I really don’t know and I don’t think she knows because she can’t even look at those kind of issues in the job she has now. And anyone who says they know is fibbing to you,” McLean said.

Until Clinton decides her future, it’s widely believed in Washington she freezes a potential Democratic field that may include Vice President Joe Biden.

After a long career as both a political spouse turned politician turned diplomat, she has told reporters she needs a break.

With 2016 fundraising totals likely to surpass the hundreds of millions of dollars hauled in during the last election, the demands to woo donors could force Clinton to make up her mind sooner than she might prefer.

“I think she’s going to run for president,” Rosen told CNN. “I think she thinks she probably has two years to decide. I think she probably has a good bit less than that to decide. But this is a woman who is a very strong sense of self and she’s going to make her own timetable for this,” Rosen said.

Despite Clinton’s strong poll numbers, Republican strategist Ana Navarro said the secretary is far from sure thing in a general election.

“What we’re seeing now are some very positive numbers for Hilary Clinton. Now, let’s remember she’s been out of the political fray for four years,” Navarro said. “If she goes into the political fray, into that ring, the gloves are off and the bell is ringing,” she added.

The path to the nomination is another story.

Unlike her last grueling run, which journeyed to the very end of the Democratic primary and caucus process, Democratic strategists believe Clinton would likely see her party rally around her in 2016, giving her the easy ride to the nomination many in Washington thought she would have four years ago.

— CNN’s Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report