Hillary Clinton has officially entered the paid speech circuit. Former Secretary of State Clinton has started to deliver speeches to trade group conventions for about $200,000 a pop. Last month, she addressed an audience of 15,000 human resources professionals in Chicago about how immigration reform and Obamacare might affect their industry. Clinton has also addressed apartment-complex developers in Dallas, private-equity managers in Los Angeles and business executives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with more engagements to come.
Paid speeches are nothing new to the Clinton family. President Bill Clinton earned $17 million from speeches last year--but he speaks as a politician who has left electoral politics for good. We were curious about what Hillary's choice to enter the paid speech circuit could mean for the 2016 election. After some digging around and list-making, may we offer a bit of perspective by arguing both sides? Bustle presents, Hillary Will Run vs. Hillary Won't Run:
Hillary's Choice to Engage In Paid Speaking Engagements Means She Will Run
- Her speeches give Clinton captive crowds in the tens of thousands--and she's been using them as an opportunity to show a personal side to her audience, telling anecdotes about her mother, Dorothy Rodham, as well as gushing about Chelsea and sharing the story of the first time she heard Bill's Southern accent.
- But she's also addressing policy and current issues! In addition to immigration, border security, and health care, Clinton has addressed the Arab Spring, the conflict in Syria, and the controversial Edward J. Snowden.
- Speechmaking is an excellent means of controlling and building her own political image. "It's a one-way street," said Tad Devine, a Democratic consultant who advised Al Gore and John Kerry in their presidential campaigns. “It’s the perfect opportunity to deliver a message of your choosing to who you want, to reach a broad audience and to get paid for it.”
- All this speechmaking (Clinton has given about more than a dozen pro bono speeches as well) doesn't reeally leave her time to relax and decompress. Wait, wasn't that what she said she wanted post-Secretary of Statehood? “I am so looking forward to next year,” she said last year. “I just want to sleep and exercise and travel for fun. And relax. It sounds so ordinary, but I haven’t done it for 20 years." ...And it doesn't sound like she's doing it now.
- Paid speeches aren't completely the territory of those who have retired from electoral politics. When he was campaigning for the U.S. presidency in 2007, Rudy Giuliani submitted a financial disclosure report that listed a total $9.2 million earned for public speaking engagements.
Hillary Isn't Going to Run; Her Paid Speeches Confirm It
- Paid speeches could be a hurdle in 2016. Senators whom Clinton could be running against are not allowed to receive payment for any speech or public appearance. Plus, in 2008, presidential candidate Gov. Mike Huckabee received criticism for leaving the campaign trail to deliver a speech in the Cayman Islands. "I have to make a living," Mr. Huckabee said at the time. Clinton couldn't really use that same argument.
- Her political rivals are watching her every move, meaning she has to be careful about whom she is addressing and the content of her speeches. “We’re starting immediately to monitor both Hillary and the other Democratic rising stars and collect, tag and characterize their speeches so we can hold them accountable when the campaign begins in earnest,” said Tim Miller, the executive director of America Rising, a conservative political action committee. I'm personally having a chuckle at Tim Miller describing Hillary as a "rising star." Okay, Tim.
What's the verdict? Maybe it's wishful thinking, but the "she's running" list received a lot more bullet points than the "she's not" set. For now, Clinton just has to avoid controversial groups, and make sure she doesn't say anything during a speaking engagement that could come back to haunt her three years from now.
Former President George W. Bush receives $100,000 to $150,000 for similar engagements, so there's another Friday afternoon chuckle for you. Who runs the world? Hillary.