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May 29, 2017

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Hillary Clinton for president? Three reasons for and against

WASHINGTON--"I have to make the decision that's right for me and the country."

Hillary Clinton froze the 2016 White House race when she told ABC News she will likely wait until year's end to decide whether to try to succeed Barack Obama as president.

Here are three reasons why she should seek the highest U.S. office — and three reasons not to.

1. Unmatched Experience

"I don't think there's anybody in the country except former presidents who has her credentials," Vermont ex-governor Howard Dean, himself a 2004 presidential candidate, told AFP.

Along with her 2001-2009 tenure in the U.S. Senate and her four years as secretary of state, Hillary also rubbed shoulders with world dignitaries while she was first lady to husband Bill Clinton. She has known German Chancellor Angela Merkel since 1994, and has negotiated with several heads of state, including Russia's Vladimir Putin and China's Hu Jintao.

Another advantage: President Clinton remains popular, with a 63-percent approval rating according to a recent ABC-Washington Post poll.

2. Best Position

Rarely in recent decades has a prospective candidate been so far out front: more than 50 points ahead of hypothetical rival Democrats, and comfortably leading possible Republican challengers including president George W. Bush's younger brother Jeb.

Karlyn Bowman, a public opinion analyst at the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute, recently published a study of Clinton's poll numbers since 1992. She concludes Clinton's approval rating is showing exceptional durability.

"Her image is very positive and, in many ways, it's grown more positive over time," Bowman said.

3. Madame President

As a successor to 44 men, Hillary Clinton would make history by becoming the first female commander-in-chief. Since her defeat in the 2008 primaries, she has often repeated a political mantra of sorts: "break down that highest, hardest glass ceiling."

But Lara Brown, an associate professor at George Washington University, warns that voters generally don't make political choices based on gender.

"This is one of the great sort of myths and falsehoods out there, that women are able to attract women voters," Brown told AFP. "Women vote for their political party over their gender."

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