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She's baack! Hillary Clinton questions return to Obama White House

August 30, 2011 |  9:02 am

Hillary Clinton
They've started again -- the Hillary questions.

Will the once-vanquished first lady, who's been the solid voice of administration foreign policy since Day One, challenge White House incumbent Barack Obama for the Democrats' presidential nomination a year from now in Charlotte, N.C.?

Of course, she and everyone will say no, no, no -- until the day they might say, well, actually, yes.

Or until the day the ex-state senator takes Joe Biden off the 2012 ticket and replaces the aging gaffemeister with her because Obama is in so much trouble and the party's big-money people from New York and California insist that the Harvard guy needs a woman's help. And they don't mean Oprah.

The Hillary question came up again Monday at the White House briefing. Jay Carney, with his Where's Waldo glasses, tried unsuccessfully to joke it off. Similar queries will ...

... return in coming  weeks. It's been a little over a month now since grumpy old Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont suggested that Obama needed a challenger in the primaries because he's gone way too far right. Which is news to those on the right seeking to fire the guy. Jay Carney

A challenge to Obama seems pretty far-fetched today, with his job approval hovering around 39%. Hard to imagine the loyal secretary of State, who'll turn 64 in October, abruptly resigning to mount a challenge to her current boss and onetime bitter rival ("Shame on you, Barack Obama!").

And she swears -- well, actually, she just proclaims -- that she'll never seek elective office again.

But, say, winter nears and the Republicans are dominating the political news with Mitt Romney and Rick Perry duking it out.

And August's 39% job-approval rating for the president has melted into 33% or 32%. And the economy shows no real signs of improving despite another couple of empty Obama jobs speeches calling for more spending on infrastructure because the first $787 billion didn't work.

Hillary is a sensitive subject around BO. Remember, she walloped him in Pennsylvania and Ohio (Texas too), states the 2012 ticket is going to need to win without Florida.

And remember in September 2008, just before the stock market collapse doomed John McCain's bid, when Joe Biden was doing that town hall in his shirtsleeves, walking around and talking, talking? And he suggested candidly that Hillary would have been a better VP choice.

Clamp. Joe was muzzled tighter than Sarah Palin after the Katie Couric interview. Because everyone knew Joe spButton Hillary Get It RIGHT in 2012oke the truth, and Harvard guys don't like the truth if it contradicts their version.

So, here's the full Monday briefing exchange. Bookmark this to compare it to all the ones to come:

Q: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said -- and this is a quote -- "One of the reasons the president has moved so far to the right is there is no primary opposition to him." And my question: Why is the president certain that Hillary won't run against him?  (Laughter.)

MR. CARNEY: You win the award for originality today. 

Q: Thank you very much.

MR. CARNEY: The president is focused not on any election -- he's focused right now on doing his job to grow the economy, create jobs, ensure that Americans who are in the path of this hurricane are taken care of. That's what he's focused on. 

Q: I understand. You're running away from this question. I mean, can you guarantee that -- are you sure that --

MR. CARNEY: You'd have to ask --

Q: -- Hillary is not going to run?

MR. CARNEY: You'd have to ask her. We're fairly confident --

Q: That she won't?

MR. CARNEY: -- that we need to focus on the task at hand.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Upper photo: Hillary Clinton. Credit: Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images

Middle photo: Jay Carney. Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Lower photo: Illustration by Andrew Malcolm

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