Hillary Clinton has been here before. If second marriages are the triumph of hope over experience, as the saying goes, so is the decision to run for the White House a second time.

There will be plenty of stories explaining why Hillary Clinton was, and remains, a vulnerable and problematic candidate. But it's also true that in important ways, the political landscape is different than it was seven years ago.

Here are four changes that could benefit a Clinton 2016 campaign.


While serving in the U.S. Senate, Clinton voted to authorize George W. Bush's Iraq War. In 2008, the war was deeply unpopular with Democrats, and Clinton's vote hurt her with the party base. (Then-Sen. Barack Obama had voted against it.) 

But seven years later the situation in the Middle East is very different. Obama has drawn down American engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan. But his efforts have been heavily criticized as the Islamic State group and other radical elements have grown in power. Now, instead of focusing on the Iraq War, legislators and commentators are battling over how best to fight Islamic extremists.

Clinton’s vote in favor of the war is unlikely to become an actual asset -- it's hard to imagine Republicans being willing to give her credit -- but it won't be the liability it was before.

The Economy

The Great Recession that began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009 hit its greatest depths largely after Clinton had withdrawn from the 2008 presidential race, so it wasn't a decisive factor in the primaries. The economy has been in steady recovery for several years now, and polls show that voters are beginning to see improvement. Clinton won't have the problem that John McCain faced, of voters blaming the White House occupant and his party for a bad economy. Memories of Bill Clinton's strong economic record could also give Hillary a boost. 


Chelsea Clinton gave birth to a little girl, Charlotte, last September, making Hillary Clinton a grandmother and giving her an appealing way to explain her ambition and to talk about her hopes for the future. 

"Becoming a grandmother has made me think deeply about the responsibility we all share as stewards of the world we inherit and will one day pass on. Rather than make me want to slow down, it has spurred me to speed up,” Clinton wrote in an epilogue to her book “Hard Choices,” which will be rereleased this year.

Grandmotherhood also helps warm up Clinton's often cold public persona. She can chat happily about baby Charlotte in every diner stop on the campaign. 

“I was delighted to find that Charlotte’s birth seemed to strike a chord with a lot of Americans,” Clinton wrote in the new epilogue. “Chelsea and I received letters and gifts from moms and grandmothers across the country -- stuffed animals, tiny sweaters, hand-knitted socks and hats, even some baby-sized sports jerseys from various teams.”


Over the years, Clinton -- like virtually every woman in public life -- has endured microscopic analysis and harsh criticism of her looks and her clothes. A bespectacled Wellesley graduate didn't quite fit the mold for the first lady of Arkansas. In Clinton's early White House days the discussion often centered on her changing hairstyles; and when she ran for the U.S. Senate, her policies had to compete with her pantsuits for attention. 

Clinton joked during the 2008 campaign, "If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle."

At 67 years old, Clinton may have finally outgrown the obsession with her appearance. Or at least, since age often brings patience, she may find herself less annoyed with the questions.