Will Hillary Rodham Clinton run for president? Here's why, and why not.

Polls show Hillary Rodham Clinton doing better than any other potential presidential candidate – Democrat or Republican. But she’s hit a serious rough patch with her e-mail controversy, and some observers see other reasons she might not run.

Mike Segar/REUTERS
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a press conference at the United Nations in New York March 10, 2015. Controversy over emails could overshadow the launch of Clinton's expected presidential campaign.

Depending on their political proclivities, one supposes, people in Brooklyn are either excited or not about the latest local news regarding Hillary Rodham Clinton: That Team Clinton is close to leasing campaign office space at Brooklyn’s MetroTech complex.

“A lease has not been signed yet, according to a source with knowledge, but very serious negotiations are ongoing and the Clinton team settled on Brooklyn after eying other locations around New York City," CNN reports. "Clinton supporters see a number of benefits in Brooklyn, including ease of attracting talent to the New York area and the fact that it's known for ethnic and socio-economic diversity."

Mrs. Clinton is interviewing potential campaign staff, according to this report, and operations are being organized in Iowa and New Hampshire, two key states. Word has gone out to supporters in New York, a city of sky-high rents, asking if they could take in young, low-paid campaign workers.

Gallup, meanwhile, has just released a poll report showing Clinton in a much stronger position than any other potential presidential candidate – Democrat or Republican – on two important scales: familiarity and favorability.

“Clinton's relatively high scores on both dimensions give her a better starting position regarding her image than other competitors would have in the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” Gallup reports. “The other possible candidates are all less well-known than Clinton at this point, but as Americans get to know them better in the months ahead, these candidates' challenge will be to either maintain or create more positive images.”

Add it all up, and serious signs point to Clinton soon making a formal announcement that she’ll join the 2016 presidential race.

But the closer things get to the rumored April announcement, the more evidence points in the other direction. At least that’s the perception among several prominent observers.

In his recent Time magazine cover story, "The Clinton Way: They write their own rules. Will it work this time?" David Von Drehle writes:

"Along with her husband – the 42nd President of the United States – Hillary Clinton is the co-creator of a soap-operatic political universe in which documents vanish, words like this take on multiple meanings and foes almost always overplay their hand. Impeachment can be a route to higher approval ratings; the occasional (and rare) defeat merely marks the start of the next campaign. Whatever rules may apply to them, the law of gravity is not one."

That one pungent sentence sums up why many voters – including many Democrats yearning for a fresher face – are uneasy with (or downright opposed to) her running. The latest evidence of the perception Von Drehle describes, of course, is controversy over Clinton’s e-mail.

The headline over a Politico.com piece by Glenn Thrush the other day reads “Hillary Clinton's fear of the trail: How the email flap reinforced all that she dislikes about running for president.”

“This was the week when Hillary Clinton’s highest aspiration, being president, collided with her deepest fear – actually running for president,” Thrush writes. “It’s not that Clinton craves a coronation, people close to her say, it’s just that she wants to forestall her leap into the sulfurous political lava as long as possible. The chaotic indignity of Tuesday’s press conference on her use of a private email server as Secretary of State did nothing to change that opinion, or convince her to push up the campaign start date.”

David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker magazine, writes: “Even in a solo primary race, reporters will scrutinize not only Hillary Clinton’s record but also her hawkish foreign-policy impulses, the dealings of the Clinton Global Initiative, and the contradiction between the need to ease the inequality gap and the candidate’s tropism toward big money.”

 Remnick describes Clinton’s press conference at the United Nations last week, where she tried to explain her e-mail routine, as “dispiriting.”

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, who knows something of presidential politics (she was a Reagan speech writer), saw something significant in Clinton’s UN press conference as well.

“Did she seem to you a happy, hungry warrior?” Noonan writes. “She couldn’t make eye contact with her questioners, and when she did she couldn’t sustain it. She looked at the ceiling and down at notes, trying, it seemed, to stick to or remember scripted arguments. She was shaky. She couldn’t fake good cheer and confidence. It is seven years since she ran for office. You could see it…. After the news conference I thought what I never expected to think: Maybe she doesn’t really want this. Maybe that’s what this incompetence is meant to be signaling.”

The next few weeks will tell.

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