Two best-selling political writers told a Lawrence audience Tuesday that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the "most likely" person to become the next president of the United States.
"Today, if you look at where the Republican field is, and you look at where she is, and you look at some of the other problems the Republican Party has with good parts of the electorate," said John Heilemann, political writer for New York Magazine, "I think it would be foolish to think that she is anything other than the most likely next president of the United States today. Not at all guaranteed, but the most likely."
Mark Halperin, editor at large for Time Magazine, echoed that assessment saying that out of a field of possibly 14 potential Republican candidates, "the smartest people we talk to in the Republican Party don't see more than two or three with the potential to beat her in the Electoral College, and that's a real challenge for the party because those two or three people may not run."
Heilemann and Halperin spoke at the Dole Institute of Politics on the Kansas University campus to promote their new book, "Double Down: Game Change 2012" about the presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
The book is a follow-up to their first collaboration, "Game Change," about the 2008 presidential race, a book that was made into an HBO movie by the same title.
Both books are based on extensive interviews with campaign insiders that were conducted after the election and on the condition of anonymity. Reviewers have said they give a more detailed and penetrating insight into events taking place in the campaigns that few, if any, outside observers were aware of at the time.
And both deal extensively with the often awkward and sometimes strained relationship between Obama and former President Bill Clinton, who campaigned strongly in 2008 for his wife during the Democratic primaries.
But in the 2008 campaign, the former president became what Heilemann and Halperin called a "super-surrogate" for Obama on the campaign trail during a critical time when Obama had to deal with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, which had battered the East Coast.
Hillary Clinton served as Obama's Secretary of State until February 2013. Given that she is now 68, Heilemann and Halperin conceded a small chance that she might not choose to run in 2016.
But Heilemann and Halperin said the changing demographics of the United States — including the rapid growth of Hispanic and African-American populations, as well as the growing number of college-educated single women give any Democrat an upper hand in the Electoral College.
And unless Clinton decides not to run, they said, no other Democrat will have much of a chance of winning that party's nomination, including Vice President Joe Biden or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
"There's a venture capitalist I know in Silicon Valley who says that only damn fools stand in front of oncoming trains," Heilemann said. "And none of those people are fools."