Speculation mounts as a third Clinton courts the limelight

Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes only a cameo appearance in her daughter's third book. It features 13 diverse US women who "changed the world". Among them are abolitionist Harriet Tubman, athlete Flo-Jo, deaf-blind activist Hellen
Ms Chelsea Clinton at the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere National Conference in Washington last month.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes only a cameo appearance in her daughter's third book. It features 13 diverse US women who "changed the world". Among them are abolitionist Harriet Tubman, athlete Flo-Jo, deaf-blind activist Hellen
Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes only a cameo appearance in her daughter's third book. It features 13 diverse US women who "changed the world". Among them are abolitionist Harriet Tubman, athlete Flo-Jo, deaf-blind activist Hellen Keller and TV star Oprah Winfrey.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Ms 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 the first United States woman commander-in-chief.

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

She deluges her 1.7 million followers on Twitter with outrage about Mr 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.

Ms Chelsea's official line is she is 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", including media mogul Oprah Winfrey. Her mother makes only a cameo appearance.

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

BRIGHT AND CAPABLE

Right now most Democrats are looking for new candidates with new ideas, but Chelsea Clinton has always been bright and capable...She can succeed at whatever goal she sets her mind to.

MR JAMAL SIMMONS, political analyst and veteran of Democratic campaigns

"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."

A school girl during her father's 1993-2001 presidency, Ms Clinton went on to earn degrees from Stanford, Oxford and Columbia universities, before stints on Wall Street and as an NBC "special correspondent" on a reported US$600,000 (S$830, 500) 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 multimillion-dollar apartment in Manhattan opposite Madison Square Park.

No other US former first child is so prominent, but Ms Clinton's saturation has also provoked a bitter backlash, even among publications with little love for Mr 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," said political analyst and veteran of Democratic campaigns Jamal Simmons.

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

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2017, with the headline 'Speculation mounts as a third Clinton courts the limelight'. Print Edition | Subscribe