10:35 am Apr. 26, 2012
It was less a political development than a political-narrative development this week, as both Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo acknowledged speculation that they might run for president in 2016, positioning themselves for what might be the greatest imaginary primary of all time.
As Maggie Haberman notes in the lead of her Politico-leading article this morning, the secretary of state (and former front-running presidential candidate) joked that that "Time 100" event that she was running for "president of Malta."
Meanwhile, the governor answered—or responded to, at least—a question from YNN's Nick Reisman by saying that he's concentrating on being as good a governor as he can be and that, as he knows from personal experience, it is not a productive thing to engage overtly with speculation about higher office.
“I've seen this movie before, actually in this room," Cuomo said, referring to his father's famous Hamlet routine in 1991. "There's like a whole lot of déjà vu going on for me. So I know this play and I know how it turns out."
Clinton and Cuomo were both acknowledging the speculation by way of putting on the record that they think it's silly (in Clinton's case) or premature (in Cuomo's).
They both happen to be right, even though in a sense they're not the ideal people to make that editorial judgment. (Is there anyone who believes that they're not both at least thinking about the possibility, even if the decision is a long way off? Related: Is there anyone who believes they're going to tell the media what they're thinking, when they're thinking it?)
Clinton, of course, is working for the current president. There's not much she could say about why 2016 is an off-limits topic that her position doesn't already make ridiculously obvious.
Cuomo, an aggressively anti-partisan Democratic governor, is in a slightly different position.
If he wanted to make the case that it is inappropriate to be talking about 2016 in early 2012, he might very convincingly have said something like, "We're in the middle of an important presidential election right now, if you haven't noticed, and the most important thing now is to help Barack Obama win another term."
He had a perfect opening to give just such a response, as matter of fact: Before he got the "speculation" question that prompted his long answer about re-run movies, Cuomo was asked whether he planned to do any campaigning for the current president.
His initial answer was, "I haven't even thought about it yet."
Asked in a follow-up whether the possibility had been broached, Cuomo said, "Yeah, I don't, I haven't thought about it yet. Let's see what happens as the campaign develops."
Which makes it sound precisely like he has bigger things on his mind.