THE Clinton era in US politics looked set to come to an end last night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton have been at the heart of the Democratic party since he won the White House in 1992, but a new guard appears to have arrived and Barack Obama’s promise of change for America could see a problematic period of transition both for the party — and the Clintons.
The “game changer” came at the start of May when Obama earned a double-digit lead over Clinton in North Carolina while she only managed to narrowly clinch victory in Indiana.
Now that the prolonged battle for the party’s presidential nomination appears all but over, the real work begins for Obama as he tries to unite the party ahead of November’s clash with Republican John McCain in the general election.
Simon Rosenberg, the executive director of the New Democratic Network political action organisation, told the Wall Street Journal:
“The Clintons and their allies have been running the show for 16 years. You’re going to see a new generation of political leaders coming to the fore.”
If this is indeed the end of the nomination race for Clinton, a high-profile role in the Senate, where she represents New York, looms large.
In the past month she has pledged to “work for the nominee of the Democratic party because we must win in November”. Speaking at the start of May, the 60-year-old told her supporters it was important to recognise “we are all on the same team”, working “to turn this country round and bring it back to what it should stand for”.
Her sentiments echoed those of Obama, who said the party was “bruised but united” after the battle with a “formidable” opponent.
The Clinton era may be over but the former first lady is unlikely to move far from the spotlight and has shown little preference for a quiet life in the future.
The possibility of a “dream ticket”, with Clinton as Barack Obama’s vice-president, has been mooted but is less likely after arguments between the two rivals intensified over the course of their campaigns.
They repeatedly said they were friends before the race started and would be friends once it was over, but despite Clinton’s assertion that she was “honoured” to be in the race with Obama, many believe they are unlikely to run a joint ticket.
Obama would be the first African-American US president. He has been criticised for his lack of foreign policy experience and would be likely to opt for someone to help him counter this.
Another consideration is that in the past 42 years, the only Democrats to be elected president have been southern white men.
In a year all about change, Clinton, a woman who has suggested Obama is dishonest, incapable of taking charge as commander-in-chief on day one and of being all words with no substance, is unlikely to be his No 1 choice.
In the 2008 race, Clinton suffered a devastating loss to Obama in Iowa but recovered five days later in New Hampshire with a surprise win following a teary moment on the campaign trail.
She went on to split the Super Tuesday spoils, taking every big state apart from her rival’s home state of Illinois, but then slumped to a slew of defeats in February.
Again she bounced back, winning the primaries in Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island before taking Pennsylvania after a six-week break between contests that saw Obama on the defensive after inflammatory comments made by his former pastor the Rev Jeremiah Wright.
Born in Chicago to a family of “ironclad Republicans”, Hillary Clinton turned to the Democrats after teenage inner city work.
She is the first wife of a US president to run for the office and is widely given credit for the fact that her husband became president.
Without her drive and ferocious ambition for him, it is said, Bill Clinton might not have aspired even to the governorship of Arkansas.
Widely believed to be a polarising figure, she is among the world’s most powerful people and survived intense scrutiny of her private life, standing by her husband in the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998.
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