Hillary Clinton now most popular figure in Obama administration
As war rages on several fronts and much of the Middle East and northern Africa is in turmoil, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enjoys a favorable rating higher than President Obama, Vice President Biden, or Secretary of Defense Gates.
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If there is a “Hillary Doctrine,” it’s the betterment of conditions for girls and women around the world.Skip to next paragraph
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In part, that may explain the gender gap in her approval rating. Seventy-two percent of women view her favorably, compared with 59 percent of men. This is especially true of her own cohort; 77 percent of women 50 and older hold a positive view.
Clinton has been a polarizing figure – particularly early in the presidency of her husband, Bill Clinton.
Conspiracy theories swirled about her involvement in the death of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster (which had been ruled a suicide), her legal work on behalf of a failed savings and loan institution, and her appointment as head of the Task Force on National Health Care Reform early in her husband’s first term.
Her favorability rating those days was down in the mid-40s.
When Bill Clinton first became involved in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, she laid the charges to “a vast right-wing conspiracy.” But when then president Clinton admitted the affair and the House voted to impeach him, most people perceived her as the victim of adultery.
At a time when she was viewed sympathetically, her favorability rose to a high of 67 percent. But it dropped it again when she first ran for the US Senate from New York – some saw her as a carpet-bagger, as had been the view of Robert F. Kennedy when he won his Senate seat there in 1964 – and during the contentious 2008 presidential campaign.
Since then, her leadership within the administration and her relentless work on behalf of the United States around the world has brought her solid prominence and high regard – both among world leaders and on Capitol Hill. She follows two other women who served as secretary of state and enjoyed favor with the public: Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright.
Clinton has ruled out serving another term as secretary of state in an Obama administration, fueling speculation about presidential ambitions for 2016.
“While Clinton's broad appeal would seem an auspicious foundation for seeking the White House, the presidential track record of secretaries of state is not,” observes Gallup’s Saad. “The last time a former secretary of state won the presidency was James Buchanan in 1856.”