On January 28 2020, the New York Post published an article with the headline, “Hillary Clinton admits she feels an ‘urge’ to run against Trump again,” reporting:
Nearly four years after President Trump defeated her in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton said she has an “urge” to run again because she thinks she can win this time [in 2020].
The former secretary of state was asked during an interview with Variety if she ever thought “I could beat Donald Trump if I were running.”
“Yeah. I certainly feel the urge because I feel the 2016 election was a really odd time and an odd outcome,” she told the magazine in an interview published online [on January 28 2020].
Noting that Clinton received three million more votes than Trump (but lost in electoral college votes), the article continued:
In a separate interview, Clinton said a lot has changed since 2016 when Trump won the presidency despite being a political novice.
“I think there’s a story now to be told. Before he was a blank slate. He was a guy that people saw on their TVs. As you know, he was a reality TV star,” Clinton said, according to the Associated Press. “Now I think there’s a record that he’s going to have to be held accountable for.”
Clinton’s specter loomed large over Democratic Party politics in 2020, and in 2018, humor publication The Onion satirized her legacy (“Hillary Launches Campaign To Raise $100 Million Or Else She’ll Run For President”):
CHAPPAQUA, NY — In a press conference announcing her plans for the 2020 election, Hillary Clinton told reporters she is launching a campaign Tuesday that will raise $100 million by the end of the year or else she will run for president. “I’m very excited to roll out my initiative to secure this full amount within seven weeks, and if it is not successful — let me be very clear on this — I will once more fill out the paperwork to run for president and submit it to the Federal Election Commission,” said Clinton, who stressed that she was “absolutely serious” about her new A Hundred Million Or Me campaign …
Although the New York Post item certainly implied Clinton running in 2020 as a possibility, its source material — a Variety interview — was more clear in context. The quotes came from the second of two questions below:
[Interviewer] Do you know who you’re going to vote for in the 2020 Democratic primary? You don’t have to name who it is.
[Clinton] I’m going to vote. I’m going to leave it at that. I’ll definitely vote. I vote every time there’s an election. And I am telling everybody here at Sundance, everywhere I go, please, please go out and vote. And then, whoever the nominee is, support the nominee, whether it’s someone you voted on or not in the primary process, because the most important responsibility we all have is to retire Donald Trump.
[Interviewer] I know you’re not running for president, but do you ever feel the urge to think: “I could beat Donald Trump if I were running.”
[Clinton] Yeah. I certainly feel the urge because I feel the 2016 election was a really odd time and an odd outcome. And the more we learn, the more that seems to be the case. But I’m going to support the people who are running now and do everything I can to help elect the Democratic nominee.
In the Variety interview, Clinton’s response was not as cut and dried as it was presented in the New York Post article, although the wording was confusing. An interviewer asked if she had the “urge to think” she could beat Donald Trump in 2020, and Clinton responded that “she certainly [felt] the urge” because of the conditions of 2016. However, the “urge” in question was referenced in odd phrasing, since it seemed more regret over poor timing — Clinton seemed to be saying that she thought she could have beaten Trump if she ran against him as an incumbent, after his first years in office. Nevertheless, the “urge” referenced in context appeared less “run again in 2020” and more “go back in time and run in 2020 instead of 2016.”