Hillary Rakes It In on Lecture Circuit

Presumptive 2016 front-runner is barnstorming the country, giving speeches.

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That didn't take long.

Hillary Clinton is back in the news, big time. Six months after leaving her job as secretary of state, Clinton is raking in a fortune on the lecture circuit, capable of drawing six figures per speech, and raising questions about whether she is just another politician cashing in on her celebrity or the altruistic "Saint Hillary" portrayed by her admirers.

Clinton, a possible Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, experienced an unusual publicity moment Friday when both The New York Times and Washington Post featured lengthy stories about her paid speeches. This underscored the fact that there still appears to be an almost unlimited interest in her, especially by the political cognoscenti. And the stories showed that, as she contemplates a 2016 race, her public schedule enables her to fashion her own message and make news on her own terms.

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Frequently, her remarks don't plow new ground. The Times reported that, "For about $200,000, Mrs. Clinton will offer pithy reflections and Mitch Albom-style lessons from her time as the nation's top diplomat. ('Leadership is a team sport.' 'You can't win if you don't show up.' 'A whisper can be louder than a shout.')"

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the media during a press conference with Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, unseen, at the Foreign Ministry in Prague, Czech Republic, Monday, Dec. 3, 2012.

Occasionally, she delves into policy, such as when she endorsed a new immigration law last month in Chicago. Among the groups to whom she has spoken are the National Association of Realtors and the American Society of Travel Agents, the Times said.

She also gives unpaid speeches, often to argue for programs to help women and girls, a theme she has emphasized for many years.

But there is a heavy political ingredient in her activities. The Times, in an article published under the headline, "Hillary Clinton Taps Speechmaking Gold Mine," reported that, "Her political rivals have already started to keep tabs on her speaking schedule, looking for any hint of a conflict of interest."

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The Post, referring to her extensive and lucrative lecture schedule, said, "This is how Clinton is cashing in on her star power as she weighs whether to run for the White House. The would-be Democratic front-runner is barnstorming the country, delivering speeches and answering questions at events sponsored by industry groups eager to gain access to someone who may be the next president."

The Post reported that she has delivered or scheduled at least 14 speeches since leaving as secretary of state. She spoke to KKR, a private equity firm, in June, and addressed the National Multi Housing Council, a group of apartment developers. in April, according to the Post.

Clinton is also working on another book, to be published next summer.

All this activity is more than a bit surprising to some of her fans because Clinton had said that, after serving as secretary of state, U.S. senator from New York, first lady of the United States and first lady of Arkansas, she was ready to rest, relax and ruminate.

But to a large extent, Clinton's active lecture schedule is a family tradition. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has scored huge successes on the lecture circuit, reporting $17 million from speeches last year.

 

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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and on Facebook and Twitter.