Speculation is mounting that Hillary Clinton could launch a bid for the US presidency in 2020 after two former advisers in as many months floated the idea of a remarkable political comeback.
Mark Penn, who worked with the Clintons for 13 years, co-wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday headlined ‘Hillary will run again’ which predicted a new campaign.
“Expect Hillary 4.0 to come out swinging", wrote Mr Penn and Andrew Stein, a former Democrat politician, adding that she may leave it late to join the race.
“They [Democrats] will see her now as strong, partisan, Left-leaning and all-Democrat - the one with the guts, experience and steely-eyed determination to defeat Mr Trump."
The piece reignited debate about whether Mrs Clinton really is considering a comeback and if she would have any chance of defeating Mr Trump a second time round.
Mrs Clinton, aged 71, is younger than Mr Trump, 72, former vice president Joe Biden, 75, and former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, 77. Mr Biden and Mr Sanders are expected to run in 2020.
Mr Penn worked on Mrs Clinton’s Senate campaigns in 2002 and 2006 and her presidential campaign in 2008, but fell out of favour in Democrat circles during Barack Obama's presidency.
He now regularly appears on Fox News and writes for The Hill, a US political newspaper with right-leaning editorial pages, which has raised suspicions about his motives – though he insists he remains a moderate Democrat.
Mr Penn is not alone, however. Philippe Reines, described as Mrs Clinton’s gatekeeper when she was in the US Senate and the State Department, recently played up the same idea.
“It’s curious why Hillary Clinton’s name isn’t in the mix - either conversationally or in formal polling - as a 2020 candidate,” Mr Reines was quoted as saying in a Politico article published last month.
“She’s younger than Donald Trump by a year. She’s younger than Joe Biden by four years. Is it that she’s run before? This would be Bernie Sanders’ second time, and Biden’s third time. Is it lack of support? She had 65 million people vote for her.”
Mr Reines added of the chance she could run in 2020: “It’s somewhere between highly unlikely and zero, but it’s not zero.”
Mrs Clinton sent mixed messages about a possible bid during a question and answer session last month. Asked if she wanted to run for the White House again, Mrs Clinton said “no”.
But when the questioner noted there was a pause, Mrs Clinton added: “Well, I’d like to be president”. She added: “I think hopefully when we have a Democrat in the Oval Office in January of 2021 there’s going to be so much work to be done.”
With up to two dozen Democrats expected to throw their hats into the ring for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, a bid from Mrs Clinton is widely considered as unlikely at this point.
She has fallen short in two presidential campaigns to date – losing out to Mr Obama for the Democrat nomination in 2008 and being defeated by Mr Trump in 2016.
Many of the weaknesses Mr Trump ruthlessly exploited, namely how many voters see Mrs Clinton as the embodiment of the Washington establishment they despise, remain in place.
Mr Trump’s supporters still chant “lock her up” at rallies, a reference to his suggestion that Mrs Clinton should be jailed over the scandal of a private email server she kept while in office.
Responding to Mr Penn’s comments that Ms Clinton would run in 2020, Kellyanne Conway, a White House adviser, tweeted: