The US presidential race
The race for the 2016 presidential elections in the U.S. has started, with more than a dozen candidates already expressing their interest in running for their party’s presidential nomination.
The number of Republican candidates who have already declared their intention currently outnumbers the number of Democrats. As the Republican Party showed a good performance in the 2014 midterm elections for the Congress, its hopes of taking over the top job in the country from the Democrats, who have occupied the White House for the last eight years, have risen.
So far, three Republicans, namely Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, have officially announced their bids for candidacy. However, the announcement of a Democrat, the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has created much more buzz than the entire Republican candidates so far put together.
Clinton threw her hat into the ring with a video message on social media on April 12, 2015, becoming the first to do so from the Democrats. Understandably, all the hopefuls were waiting for her announcement and the country’s reaction to assess their own candidacy.
This will be her second attempt for the presidency after 2008, when she lost to Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries. Although it is very early to make predictions, there is no doubt that Clinton will be a powerful nominee this time for the Democrats, compared with other rumored names. The potential rivals for the nomination are former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, former Senator Jim Web and former Senator Bernard Sanders, who currently seem to be independent. Early polls are in favor of Clinton.
She has a strong background in politics with a career as First Lady, as Senator from New York and as Secretary of State. If successful, she will become the first ever woman nominee and first ever woman president of the U.S. Her enthusiasm and serious chance for taking the presidency have already energized her critics. We will no doubt witness a long and tough presidential campaign.
Domestic politics of the economy, unemployment, health insurance, and household income will no doubt dominate the debates. As usual, foreign affairs will play a smaller role in determining the American voters’ choices.
However, that limited discussion on foreign policy issues will be watched with utmost attention from the rest of the world. As the U.S. still retains its unrivalled superpower status in international politics, the positions of presidential candidates on international issues will be scrutinized across the world.
Hillary Clinton’s track record as Secretary of State does not particularly support her bid for presidency.
She is remembered as a weak Secretary of State. Perhaps this should have been expected, as she inherited several global complications from a Republican President, who committed his country to a futile “war on terror” and tarnished the image of the U.S. around the world.
More importantly, as a loyal Secretary of State, she focused on the priorities of President Barack Obama, who wanted to pivot to the Asia-Pacific region by ending U.S. engagement in Iraq and withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. However, the devastating and rapid changes in international politics - from North Africa and the Middle East to Eastern Europe - did not allow the Obama administration, and hence Hillary Clinton, to focus on these priorities.
Although she had supported President Obama in his foreign policy choices, people remember Clinton for having a more hawkish stance on several issues. Her support for the Iraq War and her preference for intervening more actively in Syria are recent examples. While she devoted most of her time as Secretary of State on softer issues, rather than bigger challenges, she would need to be clearer and more open about her priorities in various global issues as a presidential candidate.