Michaud: The portentous appearance of Hillary Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton is the Grand Old Hillary Rodham Clinton is the Grand Old Party's most galvanizing figure, outside of President Barack Obama, says Clarence Page. Photo Credit: AP

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Anne Michaud Portrait of Newsday editorial board member Anne Michaud

Anne Michaud is the interactive editor for Newsday Opinion. She has written about politics, government, education and transportation ...

Hillary Clinton isn't a name that draws a halfhearted response. Most people have a distinct opinion, good or bad. So, it will be intriguing to see how she plays to a crowd of pre-eminent Long Island businesspeople tomorrow -- a familiar audience of mixed political allegiances.

This is, of course, exactly the type of monied crowd Clinton needs if she runs again for president.

Her talk isn't billed as a campaign speech. We are waaaaay too far ahead of 2016 for that, right? And it would be bad form for Clinton to talk about presidential ambition just a year into the second term of her fellow Democrat and former boss, Barack Obama. Not to mention that as a New Yorker, her governor may also covet the job.

Formal announcements aside, this event presents an opening for the recently retired secretary of state. It's an opportunity for her to reintroduce herself -- four-plus years after stepping down as New York's junior senator.

Most of us know this woman, this leader, through filters -- usually, the media, but also our friends and neighbors. Another filter was in the works until Monday: a four-hour miniseries from CNN Films and NBC. The Republican National Committee voted in August to boycott the networks during the presidential primary debates if the "Hillary Clinton infomercials" were produced.

CNN and NBC pulled the plug on the project this week, but said it wasn't the GOP's threat that scuttled the program, it was that Clinton and her aides refused to participate.

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Given the acrimony from the RNC, it was probably wise of Clintonland to keep their distance. But I also have to wonder if Clinton isn't just a little weary of having herself explicated by the media, no matter how well-intentioned.

Here's what her husband, Bill, had to say Sunday on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." Speaking about "anybody" who runs for president next time, he said, "You have to have a strategy for presenting your true self to the voters in an environment where there are unprecedented opportunities for those who don't want you to win to paint a different picture of your true self."

How many people have written tell-alls about the "true" Hillary Clinton? I found a dozen books during a quick Internet search -- not to mention groups like Citizens United, which produced an anti-Hillary documentary that led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that corporations have free speech rights.

Meeting with audiences looks like a priority for Clinton now. Her speaking schedule is busier than an Affordable Care Act Web server. In September, she accepted a Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and addressed the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. She drew a crowd for a social services agency in Chicago and booked gigs with the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Beth El Synagogue in Minnesota.

Tomorrow is her chance to tell New Yorkers what she saw and learned as secretary of state. The audience at the Crest Hollow Country Club is going to want to know her views on the crisis in Syria, Obama's rapprochement with Iran, the domestic surveillance controversy and the evolving role of the United States as the world's cop.

LIA members will want to hear Clinton's predictions on how health insurance reform will shake out. And there's a good chance she will mention her project to measure the progress of equal participation of women around the world, which she announced last week at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting.

Is she warming up the crowd for her next act -- whatever that is?

Anne Michaud is the interactive editor for Newsday Opinion.

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