Monday, February 19, 2007

Senator Bill Clinton?

If Hillary Rodham Clinton wins the presidency, some top Democrats would like to see her husband, former President Bill Clinton, appointed to serve out Hillary's unexpired Senate term.

"As a senator, he'd be a knockout," said Harold Ickes, who was once a top White House aide to Bill Clinton and now gives behind-the-scenes advice to Hillary. "He knows issues, he loves public policy and he’s a good politician."

Some Democrats and political analysts say Bill Clinton would thrive in the world’s greatest deliberative body, much like Lyndon Johnson did before he became president.

"President Clinton would excel in the Senate," said Paul Begala, who helped Bill Clinton get elected and served in the White House as a top aide.

"Why not?" Begala added. "He excelled as attorney general and governor of Arkansas, he excelled as president and he’s been a model of the modern Senate spouse."

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, agreed.

"Clinton is a natural for the Senate," Sabato said. "He loves to talk and schmooze. He could be a great vote-organizer. Majority Leader Clinton?"

Such a scenario is not beyond the realm of possibility now that the governor's mansion in New York is occupied by a Democrat, Eliot Spitzer, who succeeded Republican Gov. George Pataki last month. If Hillary Clinton wins the White House, Spitzer would likely appoint a fellow Democrat to take over her Senate seat.

So far, speculation about potential successors has focused on New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose father once held the same Senate seat.

But Spitzer could just as easily appoint Bill Clinton, who, under New York law, would fill his wife's Senate seat through 2010. A special election would then be held, and the winner would serve the final two years of her term, which expires in 2012.

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