Exclusive: Dick Morris Says Hillary Will Be America's Next President
Carl Limbacher, NewsMax.com
Wednesday, May 8, 2002: Not only will Sen. Hillary Clinton make a run for the White House before the decade is out, the former first lady has an excellent chance of winning a national election and becoming the next president of the United States.
That's the staggering prediction from former senior White House political adviser Dick Morris, who lamented to NewsMax.com Tuesday, "The order of succession to the presidency in this poor benighted country may well be Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton."
Morris, of course, is the man who seven years ago transformed Bill Clinton's withering White House career into a political juggernaut that made him the first Democrat president since FDR to win re-election. As such, his words on Sen. Clinton's political future carry special weight.
In an exclusive interview with NewsMax.com, Morris put himself in the place of Hillary's top political consultant – and advised her not to take on Bush in 2004.
Will She Wait for '08?
"I think that 2004 is too soon for her. She knows Bush is likely to be re-elected, and I think she needs to run against someone who isn't an incumbent."
Morris cautions also that the "New York" Democrat's legal problems could make a 2004 run impractical. "She's still worried about the pending grand jury looking into the Pardongate scandal. And I think she should be," he told NewsMax.
Barring a Clinton indictment, however, Hillary's White House path is clear for 2008.
The key to making her president, Morris counsels, is timing. "She needs to run after a period where the nation is bored with Republican leadership.
"We're now in a period of great energy with the war on terror. But I think that's going to last only through 2004 and 2005. Then the next three years you're going to see not much happening at the federal level."
He sees a second Bush term as one likely to be devoid of any substantial domestic agenda.
"One of the problems Republicans always have is that they don't really believe in government doing a whole lot. They don't want to make a lot of new proposals because they don't believe in them."
That dynamic, says Morris, will open the door for Sen. Clinton to make her move.
'Her Sense of Activism'
"After a period of boredom where not much is going on domestically for two or three years, I think people may well welcome her sense of activism and her energy."
Won't other Democrats have their eye on the White House too?
Morris says the 2004 race is likely to clear out the backlog of presidential hopefuls, such as Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and former Veep Al Gore.
"They'll run, and they'll lose," he said. "And it's very hard once you lose a presidential race to run again and be successful."
At that point Sen. Clinton will be able to step over the political corpses and grab the nomination, predicts Morris. "Hillary will clearly be the Democratic Party front-runner when she runs in 2008."
And what about winning the ultimate prize: the keys to the Oval Office?
"After eight years of George Bush, the country will be ready for change," Morris contends. "Yes, I think she could win."
A "Hillary for President" campaign would differ from her husband's in certain important respects. For instance, don't look for former Clinton strategist James Carville to head their next White House bid.
"He has formidable abilities, but he prefers to play the role of court jester," Morris said. "I don't think he wants to be a serious consultant anymore."
McCain Too Old to Run With Her?
And he doesn't see liberal GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona playing a role in Hillary's political future. "By 2008 he'll be awfully old," Morris told NewsMax.
What about Terry McAuliffe, who isn't likely to stay on as Democratic National Committee chairman for six more years?
"I think he'll continue to be a factor as a major Clinton money person, but not as head of the DNC," said Morris.
One development that could give the former first lady a big boost is the rumored Bill Clinton TV talk show, which Morris said would likely consist of four or five TV specials over the course of 2003 and 2004.
"These might be two-hour prime-time shows on major topics and major issues where he would be a kind of Bill Moyers. That would help redeem his image and make voters less reluctant to back Hillary."
A TV show would also give the ex-president a platform from where he could answer his critics and rebut any old scandal allegations. Morris said the show would serve the same purpose as Clinton's presidential State of the Union addresses.
"He always survived in his presidency off of State of the Union addresses," Morris said. "He lacks that now, but a prime-time TV show would give him a major venue again."
On the presidential campaign trail, Hillary is likely to deploy Bill strategically, says Morris, keeping the ex-president under wraps for general audiences but showcasing him to urban voters, with whom he remains wildly popular.
A Big Boost From ... Bush
In the end, however, it's President Bush who may have done more to make Hillary Clinton president than anyone else – by ignoring the scandals of the first two Clinton terms and ordering his Justice Department to slow investigations.
"In retrospect it will look like a mistake on his part," Morris told NewsMax. "He's treating the scandals as an inconvenience, but that's because of one of the core convictions of the Bush family. They always oppose aggressive action against former presidents."
He argues that, though some of the accusations leveled against his ex-boss were "garbage," the 11th-hour pardons were a different matter.
"That scandal was very real. And if there is no action on the pardon scandal, Bush will ultimately regret that," Morris predicts.
Dick Morris has written a blockbuster new book, "Power Plays: Win or Lose – How History's Great Political Leaders Play the Game."