The day after she returned to her job as secretary of state following a month-long medical leave, Hillary Rodham Clinton held a press conference, her first since she had sustained a concussion, due to a fall, that lead to her absence. When one reporter asked if she was going to retire once she left the State Department, Clinton countered: “I don’t know that that is the word I would use, but certainly stepping off the very fast track for a little while.”

For Clinton watchers who parse each of her comments for any clues about a possible 2016 presidential bid, this one delivered. “Hillary Clinton Rules Out ‘Retirement,’” one headline read. “Onwards to the White House?” another asked. By the end of the week, despite her recent health problems, a poll showed  Clinton the prohibitive frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination and a formidable challenger to Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, in a possible general-election match-up.

Friends close to Clinton say that her longstanding plan has been to take a break after leaving her post as secretary of state before laying the groundwork for a second run for the presidency. Her recent medical episode underscores her need for a sabbatical. At the same time, though, rarely has there been such a palpable groundswell of anticipation for a politician’s potential run for office.

The reason is simple: Women see in Clinton a female candidate who could not only run for but win the presidency.

When we look at 2016,” says Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily’s List, a group devoted to electing Democratic women to office, “we see this very much as a time to have a woman on the ticket for The White House. The jobs she has done as secretary of state, senator from New York, and first lady make us believe Hillary Clinton would be an excellent president. There would be massive energy surrounding a Clinton presidential campaign.”

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