Hillary Clinton's 'star power' likely to figure in 2016

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last January in Washington.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The reaction to two film projects involving Hillary Clinton confirms the former secretary of state's status as the perceived front-runner in the 2016 Democratic presidential race, according to NPR's Ken Rudin.

He said he is nearly certain that she will run.

"The Republicans are worried that Hillary Clinton is becoming the new star of 2016, just as Barack Obama was the star of 2008," said Rudin, a k a the Political Junkie, in his weekly appearance on The Daily Circuit.

Clinton will be the subject of a proposed miniseries on NBC and documentary on CNN. The Republican national chairman, Reince Priebus, has warned those networks that they will have no role in the 2016 debates if they go ahead with the projects.

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"There is a sense out there that Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee," Rudin said. "Now of course we said this 2008, and some guy named Barack Obama came and surprised her. It just seems she's been all but anointed as the clear front-runner, if not as the all-but-certain nominee, for 2016. But right now, she and her people are staying out of it. They're not going to Iowa, for example, when other would-be candidates might be going to Iowa. She's lying low."

Last Friday, Rudin noted, "Emily's List had this Madam President town-hall meeting in Iowa, and they're saying: Look, Hillary Clinton did run in 2008, and she had a chance at breaking barriers, but Barack Obama had a historic barrier to break as well.

"It just seems like they're more determined than ever. They're aware of the mistakes that Hillary Clinton and her campaign made in 2008, and they're determined not to do it again. But basically, if Hillary Clinton decides to run — and I'm almost convinced she's going to run — all these things will be put in place, ready to go, once Hillary Clinton says 'yes'."

Iowa, the location of early caucuses and a closely watched straw poll, often gets to meet aspiring candidates ahead of the rest of the country. One political event attended by potential Democratic candidates is Sen. Tom Harkin's steak fry, which Vice President Joe Biden will be attending next month.

Rudin said no one seems to be taking Biden's potential as a candidate seriously.

"It seems so weird," Rudin said. "He looks like he's not part of the discussion at all. When you think of former vice presidents who wanted the nomination — Nixon in '60, Mondale in '84, George Bush in '88, Al Gore in 2000 — if they wanted the nomination, they got it. And Joe Biden, he's going to be 73 years old, and nobody seems to be talking about him."

"He certainly wants to be president," Rudin said, but "when you have Hillary Clinton's star power, it's hard to match up against that."

Another prominent Democrat going to Iowa soon is Minnesota's Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is attending a fundraiser later this week. That does not mean she's running for president, Rudin noted. "Anybody who dares to set foot in Iowa is definitely running for president," he joked. "Somebody could be just driving down the highway in Ames, and they must be running for president."

"Amy Klobuchar says, 'I'm happy being a senator, I want to be a senator.' But if Hillary Clinton says no, and all these women's groups are saying, 'Wait a second, we'll be let down' — you've got to look at Amy Klobuchar," Rudin said. "Just like you have to look at Elizabeth Warren and Kisrten Gillibrand , the senators from Massachusetts and New York. Basically, Iowa Democrats love these high-profile Democrats who come in and talk to them, and Amy Klobuchar being from just across the border certainly qualifies as that."

Rudin, who is leaving NPR next month, joined the organization in 1991 as its first political editor. He appeared weekly on the NPR program Talk of the Nation.