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Hillary Clinton on possible 2020 run: ‘I’d like to be president’

Hillary Clinton gave mixed signals on whether she’s considering another presidential run, telling a New York City audience Friday that she would be well suited to the office.

During a far-ranging interview with Kara Swisher of the technology website Recode (Swisher is also a contributor to The New York Times’ Opinion section), Clinton initially said “no” when asked whether she wanted to run for president again. She then paused and repeated “no.”

But after Swisher noted the slight hesitation, Clinton seemed to reconsider her response, saying that a major task of the next Democratic president will be improving the international standing of the United States.

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“Well, I’d like to be president,” she said, at the public taping at New York’s 92nd Street Y of Swisher’s podcast. “The work would be work that I feel very well prepared for having been at the Senate for eight years, having been a diplomat in the State Department, and it’s just going to be a lot of heavy lifting.”

But after the remarks were widely reported — and dissected on social media — Swisher tweeted Monday that the reaction seemed to be out of proportion to what Clinton had said.

“Tweeps, simmer down!” Swisher wrote on Twitter. “While it perhaps sounded like @HillaryClinton refused to rule it out, my take is she was basically implying she wishes she were president but doesn’t relish running again.”

Clinton has become a more visible presence in recent weeks, increasing the number of her public appearances and raising money for Democrats across the country. Last week, she spoke at a fund-raiser for Donna Shalala, a former Clinton administration official, who is running for a House seat in Florida.

“She will always be a winner and I’ll always be with her,” said Shalala, introducing Clinton to a room full of 200 Democratic donors in Miami.

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While Clinton has a base of support among Democrats, many in the party would prefer she keep a lower profile, pointing to her low approval rating and arguing she is a distraction to the party’s midterm messaging. Like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Clinton has been depicted as a villain in Republican campaign ads that attack Democratic candidates.

Clinton dismissed some of the calls for her to retreat from public life as sexist.

“There were no articles telling Al Gore to go away or John Kerry to go away or John McCain or Mitt Romney to go away,” she said. “Mitt Romney is going to the Senate, that’s where he’s going.”

Clinton said she would not consider a possible run in 2020 until after the midterm elections next week.

“I’m not even going to even think about it until we get through this Nov. 6 election,” she said. “But I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure we have a Democrat in the White House come January of 2021.”

Should she mount a third presidential bid, Clinton would be entering a Democratic field crowded with potential contenders, a major shift from 2016, when nearly no Democrats were eager to challenge her.

Clinton said she expects a crowded field of as many as 20 Democrats.

“I think we’d have a number of excellent candidates who would be really formidable on the campaign trail, but let’s wait and see who it is,” she said. “I’m just going to wait and watch what happens.”

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NEW YORK TIMES

Jimmy Carter calls on Brian Kemp to resign as Georgia secretary of state

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams’s campaign is calling attention to a letter in which former president Jimmy Carter urged Abrams’s Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, to resign as Georgia’s secretary of state, arguing that ‘‘public confidence is threatened’’ by Kemp’s dual role as candidate and overseer of the state’s elections.

Carter, who still lives in his Georgia hometown with his wife, Rosalynn, sent the letter to Kemp last week.

Kemp’s role as candidate and secretary of state ‘‘runs counter to the most fundamental principle of democratic elections -- that the electoral process be managed by an independent and impartial election authority,’’ Carter said in the letter.

‘‘In order to foster voter confidence in the upcoming election, which will be especially important if the race ends up very close, I urge you to step aside and hand over to a neutral authority the responsibility of overseeing the governor’s election,’’ Carter said.

Kemp and Abrams are locked in a competitive battle that has been marked by tensions over race and voting rights.

Last year, Georgia passed an ‘‘exact match’’ voter registration law that critics argue is aimed at keeping minority voters from the polls. According to the Associated Press, 53,000 voter registration applications -- most of them belonging to black voters -- are on hold due to discrepancies between the information on the forms and residents’ information on file. Separately, elections officials have also come under criticism for the rejection of hundreds of absentee ballots.

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Abrams, who would become the nation’s first black female governor, has called Kemp an ‘‘architect of voter suppression for the last decade’’ and argued that he has ‘‘tried to steal the right to vote from 53,000 Georgians.’’

Kemp has maintained that anyone whose registration has been put on hold can vote on Election Day so long as they bring the proper ID.

In a statement, Kemp spokesman Ryan Mahoney said that it was ‘‘sad’’ to see Abrams ‘‘using the former president to do her dirty work’’ and accused the Democrat of ‘‘trying to distract voters with another publicity stunt.’’

WASHINGTON POST

Four shots fired into a Republican Party office in Florida

A person with a gun fired at least four bullets into a Republican Party office in Florida, officials said Monday as concerns about political violence have risen in advance of the midterm elections.

The Volusia County Republican Party office in South Daytona was empty at the time of the shooting and no one was injured, South Daytona Police Captain Mark Cheatham told The Washington Post.

A volunteer arrived at the headquarters, which is located in a small strip mall, on Monday morning to find that a front window was smashed into pieces. Police determined that the window had been shot through after finding four bullets inside the office, in the wall and on the floor, Cheatham said.

Police believe that the shooting occurred between 4 p.m. Sunday, the last time a person was at the office, and 9 a.m. Monday, Cheatham said. Photographs of the office posted by reporters online show that its windows are plastered with signs for the Republican Party and candidates.

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Cheatham said the office had yet to confirm a motive or identify a suspect in the shooting, and had not found video evidence or any witnesses yet, either.

The shooting follows high-profile events of politically motivated violence that have raised concerns about whether the country’s bitter divide has turned into something even more malignant.

Last week, Cesar Sayoc, a 56-year-old Florida man, was arrested after officials said he mailed bombs to 13 prominent Democrats and media organizations. And on Saturday, a gunman identified by officials as Robert Bowers killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue, motivated apparently by belief in conspiracies about immigration and bigotry.

Tony Ledbetter, the chairman of the Volusia County Republican Party, told The Washington Post that he blamed Democrats for the shooting at the office.

‘‘That’s the only people who would do this,’’ he said. ‘‘The sick Democrats.’’

Cheatham said the police would be stepping up patrols around the Republican office as well as the local Democratic outpost in town.

Jewel Dickson, the chairwoman of the Volusia Democratic Party, told the Daytona Beach News-Journal that the shooting was ‘‘appalling.’’

‘‘It’s a sign of things going wrong,’’ she said. ‘‘I would not be quick to blame a Democrat for doing that. It could be anybody angry.’’

‘‘An attack on one of us, is an attack on all of us, and everyone should feel safe participating in our Democracy,’’ she said in a statement.

Ledbetter said that volunteers at the office working on get-out-the-vote efforts in advance of the midterm elections next week were already getting back to work, though he planned to arrange for 24-hour armed security through the election.

‘‘We’re not going anywhere,’’ Ledbetter said. ‘‘We’re putting a piece of plywood up.’’

About six to eight people work at the office in shifts, he said. Ledbetter said he believed that the shooting took the form of a drive-by at night and said he was skeptical that police would ever find a suspect.

‘‘You’ll never figure out who did this,’’ he said. ‘‘This is a small complex; there was no cameras outside, nothing to record anything.’’

He said he planned to install security cameras for future elections.

‘‘My idea of civility is go vote and if you don’t win, suck it up and go home,’’ he said.

About 55 percent of Volusia County voters chose Donald Trump in 2016.

Democratic state Representative Patrick Henry, who represents the area, condemned the shooting in a statement released to reporters.

‘‘After one of the deadliest 72 hours in America, I’m angry to learn that shots were fired at a Republican Party field office in my district,’’ he said. ‘‘Your party affiliation should never make you a target of gun violence.’’

WASHINGTON POST