• Paul Steinhauser

Leading NH Hillary Clinton supporters downplay op-ed suggesting a 2020 bid

In this July 14, 2016, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, accompanied by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., speaks at a rally at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Va. Clinton has chosen Kaine to be her running mate (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Two of Hillary Clinton’s top supporters in New Hampshire are very skeptical about a much talked about opinion piece published at the beginning of the week that suggested the two-time presidential candidate would make a third run for the White House in 2020.

Mark Penn, an adviser and pollster to Bill and Hillary Clinton from 1995-2008, predicted in Sunday’s Wall Street Journal that Clinton would come back in 2020 as a “liberal firebrand,” adding that she wouldn’t “let a little thing like two stunning defeats stand in the way of her claim to the White House.”

The former first lady, U.S. senator, U.S. secretary of state, and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee has repeatedly shot down suggestions she’d make a third bid for president. But in an interview late last month with Recode, she left the door slightly open to the possibility, saying that even though she doesn’t wish to run, “I’d like to be president.”

Terry Shumaker, a Manchester-based attorney who’s been a longtime friend and adviser to both Clintons, remains skeptical.

“It’s highly unlikely that she would run, but if she did, she would be a strong candidate I think,” he told the Monitor.

Kathy Sullivan, a Democratic National Committee member from New Hampshire, is another longtime Hillary Clinton friend and top supporter. She criticized the story, saying “it’s just sheer speculation.”

“Hillary Clinton gave it her all in two races for president,” said Sullivan, a former longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party chairwoman. “I have a lot of respect for her. I’m just not going to get into a guessing game about whether she going to run or not going to run.”

Former state senator Andrew Hosmer, another Granite State supporter of Clinton’s last White House run, pointed to the possibility of more than 20 Democrats eventually running for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

“We had a limited number of options in 2016,” he said. “Really only three candidates – Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. But I think this time around we are going to see far more than three candidates coming into the race. And I think Democrats want to see a wide array and have a wide selection and do what Granite Staters do best, which is vet candidates thoroughly.”

Shumaker, who was with the Clintons during the former president’s first trips to New Hampshire in the 1992 campaign and who later served as U.S. ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, said, of course, he’d consider backing Hillary Clinton again if she launched another campaign.

But he added that, “I have the luxury this time, for the first time in many cycles, to sit back and watch for a while and I intend to do that.”

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