What if Hillary doesn't run?

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Tomorrow Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York will lead off her bid to run for re-election "with a sometimes emotional 18-minute video that features praise from her husband and even some New Yorkers who opposed her candidacy six years ago," according to the Associated Press.

As Senator Clinton determinedly devotes herself to her New York constituents, all the media buzz is on her presumed 2008 run for president.

Bloggers have drawn up E-tomes about her poll numbers. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll reveals that two thirds of Americans call her a "strong leader" with strong "family values." She's a statistically insignificant 4 points behind Republican front-runner Sen. John McCain of Arizona in some new polls and beats McCain among female voters.

She infuriated liberals (and hard-line conservatives) by agreeing to let conservative icon Rupert Murdoch host a fundraiser for her in New York City in July. Her presidential-size campaign war chest ($20 million, according to the New York Daily News) seems deeply out of proportion to the Republican unknowns, either former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer or Reagan-era Pentagon official Kathleen Troia (KT) McFarland, who may or may not run against her in her Senate re-election bid.

But what if, just if, she doesn't run for the Democratic presidential nomination? A Democratic member of Congress told me over the Memorial Day weekend that more and more Democrats are thinking that may be the case. Why? The answers varied from "the time isn't right" to "President Bush is leaving behind too big a mess to clean up" (to wit, the war in Iraq and a staggering federal deficit coupled with historic international trade debt)" to "what, another senator? Haven't we had enough of them pummeled yet to remind ourselves our next presidential candidate should emerge from some other line of political work?"

Up Next: Democrats who want Senator Clinton to stay in the race ... at least for now