Chelsea Clinton fuels speculation of future presidential run

Her mother's loss at the polls to a billionaire former reality star has only seemed to fuel Clinton's ire.
Her mother's loss at the polls to a billionaire former reality star has only seemed to fuel Clinton's ire. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Chelsea Clinton, the 37-year-old only child of Bill and Hillary Clinton, is fuelling speculation that she could one day run for office - honing her Twitter profile, publishing a new book and becoming increasingly vocal in the wake of her mother's presidential defeat.

Gone is the publicity-shy former first daughter with bouncy curls - replaced by a tireless liberal campaigner, who last year criss-crossed the country to tell Americans why they should elect her mother as the first US woman commander-in-chief.

Her mother's loss at the polls to a billionaire former reality star has only seemed to fuel Clinton's ire.

She deluges her 1.7 million followers on Twitter with outrage about Donald Trump's administration, and thoughts on everything from World Menstrual Hygiene Day to child marriage, as the media devotes column inches to whether she will run for office.

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Chelsea's official line is she's not - but in true politician style, she often couches those denials with caveats such as "right now, no."

That speculation returned to the fore on Tuesday with the publication of her third book - a 28-page hardback picture book for children called "She Persisted" about 13 diverse US women who "changed the world."

Her mother makes only a cameo appearance but included in the line-up are Oprah Winfrey, deaf and blind champion Helen Keller, former slave Harriet Tubman, the first American woman in space Sally Ride and Olympic sprint champion Florence Griffith Joyner.

The title was inspired by a phrase used to silence left-leaning Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren - an expression adopted as a rallying cry for female opposition to Trump's Republican administration.

Published by Penguin Random House, pre-orders made the book a number one best-seller on Amazon's list of women biographies for children.

'IN MY DNA'

"I'm far more focused on what we do to protect and advance progress than what happened last year," Clinton told NBC's Today Show on Tuesday, when asked how the family had dealt with her mother's loss to Trump six months ago.

"I don't know if that's just in my DNA or if it's trying to live up to the example that my parents have always set for me that we always look toward the future."

Of her tweets - to which The New York Times in March devoted more than 1,000 words dissecting her "sarcastic and feisty online personality" - she told NBC: "We all have a responsibility to not stay silent now. I think we have to speak up."

A school girl during her father's 1993-2001 presidency, Chelsea went on to earn degrees from Stanford, Oxford and Columbia University, before stints on Wall Street and as an NBC "special correspondent" on a reported US$600,000 (S$830,343) salary.

Today vice president of the Clinton family foundation, and an adjunct assistant professor of health policy and management at Columbia University, she and husband Marc Mezvinsky live in a multi-million-dollar apartment in Manhattan opposite Madison Square Park.

No other US former first child is so prominent, but Chelsea saturation has also provoked a bitter backlash, even among publications with little love for Trump.

"Please, God, Stop Chelsea Clinton From Whatever She Is Doing," ran the headline on a stinging slap down from Vanity Fair in April, warning "the last thing the left needs is the third iteration of a failed political dynasty."

"Unkind as it is to say, reading anything by Chelsea Clinton - tweets, interviews, books - is best compared to taking in spoonfuls of plain oatmeal that, periodically, conceal a toenail clipping," the magazine wrote.

Critics say, that like her mother, she struggles to connect with ordinary voters and she has been mocked for saying of her time working in finance: "I was curious if I could care about (money) on some fundamental level, and I couldn't." Yet the Trump election has left Democrats still searching for a clear leader.

"Right now most Democrats are looking for new candidates with new ideas, but Chelsea Clinton has always been bright and capable," political analyst and veteran of Democratic campaigns, Jamal Simmons, told AFP.

"She can succeed at whatever goal she sets her mind to," he said.