Hillary Clinton says she wants America to have a woman president. Surprised?

'I really do hope that we have a woman president in my lifetime,' Hillary Rodham Clinton said this week. Was that a hint about her own possible candidacy?

Scott Eisen/AP
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting in Chicago last week. Her speech was a broad-brush address heralding the power of women and talking education and opportunity.

She didn’t say she’s going to run for the White House in 2016. But, to many listeners, the latest words of Hillary Rodham Clinton certainly hint that it’s a strong possibility.

“Let me say this, hypothetically speaking,” she said, “I really do hope that we have a woman president in my lifetime.”

Members of the audience, at a women’s lecture series in Toronto, cheered.

To get beyond the “hypothetical," a quick follow-up question: Isn’t it possible that, when voters get the opportunity to see a woman on the presidential ballot as a major contender, the initials of that nominee might be H.R.C.?

Answer: Yes, it looks very possible.

Mrs. Clinton currently gets a “favorable” rating from 6 in 10 Americans, is widely known, and has been making moves you might expect of someone positioning herself for a presidential run.

After being Secretary of State, she’s bowed out of public service for President Obama’s second term. She’s showing her interest in domestic affairs by engaging in an initiative for early childhood education. Having been a strong contender for the Democratic nomination back in 2008, she knows a lot about campaigning.

Some other major democracies have had female chief executives, including people like Margaret Thatcher in Britain and, currently, Angela Merkel in Germany. For more than two centuries, America hasn’t broken that gender barrier.

“I think it would send exactly the right historic signal to girls and women, as well as boys and men,” Clinton told the Thursday crowd in Toronto. Video footage of the comments, captured by an audience member, was posted on YouTube.com by the Associated Press Friday.

“It really depends on women stepping up and subjecting themselves to the political process,” Clinton added.

Quoting another former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, Clinton said women need Rhinoceros-thick skins to be in politics.

She also said electing a woman would require a “leap of faith” for US voters.

Some polls have found Americans saying they have no problem with the idea of a woman as president. A Gallup poll in 2006, for example, found 6 in 10 saying Americans are “ready” for that.

Will Clinton herself “step up” for the 2016 contest? We’ll see. Her popularity has ebbed and flowed over the years, but since early 2008 a majority of Americans have given her a favorable rating in Gallup polls.

She has lots of fans. But as she departed from her role as Secretary of State, Clinton’s aura of success in that job was tarnished by controversy over the State Department’s handling of events in Benghazi, Libya, in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in a terrorist attack.

And she has long been a magnet for conservative criticism. On Thursday, the Republican group America Rising launched a StopHillary2016.org website to raise funds in opposition to her potential candidacy.

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