Hillary Clinton would be a good political partner for New Zealand if she became the US president, Prime Minister John Key says.
The former First Lady and US Secretary of State officially announced she would run for the White House this morning, after mounting speculation she would make a bid for the Democratic Party's nod in 2016.
It follows her failed attempt at the 2008 election, when she was beaten for the Democratic nomination by now US President Barack Obama.
Mr Key said if successful, Mrs Clinton would make a good political partner for New Zealand.
"It would be [good for New Zealand] in the sense that she knows New Zealand," he said on Paul Henry this morning.
"I've met her on lots of occasions, had dinner with her at Premier House a few times.
"As Secretary of State she was great, very engaged with New Zealand, very knowledgeable."
Mrs Clinton had "a very, very good chance" of winning, he said.
"She's got massive credentials, [she's] well known," he said.
"[She's] been there before, a lot of people thought she would get through the last time, but it's just so hard to know. You've got the Democrats essentially owning the White House for a long time now, anything's possible."
But it could be a "fascinating battle" between two of the US's biggest political family dynasties, Mr Key said, with Mrs Clinton confirmed as a candidate and former President George W Bush's brother Jeb Bush likely to announce he's running for the Republican nomination.
Mrs Clinton made her announcement this morning via Twitter and a video on YouTube.
She tweeted: "I'm running for president. Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion."
Mr Key's comment follow Mr Obama's endorsement of his former Secretary of State at a regional summit in Panama on Saturday.
"She was a formidable candidate in 2008. She was a great supporter of mine in the general election. She was an outstanding Secretary of State. She is my friend," Mr Obama said.
"I think she would be an excellent president."
Mrs Clinton was last in New Zealand in November 2010, as part of her tour of Asia-Pacific countries in her role as US Secretary of State.
Over three days she visited Wellington and Christchurch, offering US support following the Canterbury earthquakes and reiterating US-NZ ties in trade, defence and the environment.
She signed the Wellington Declaration with Foreign Minister Murray McCully, to signal closer relations between New Zealand and the United States, with an increase in the strategic partnership between the two nations.
Key things to know about Hillary Clinton
As first lady to President Bill Clinton during the 1990s, she was a driving figure in a failed health care overhaul and lived through multiple ethics investigations and her husband's impeachment. She won a Senate seat representing New York in 2000 and ran for the president in 2008, losing the nomination to Barack Obama. She was his secretary of state for four years. No woman has been a major party's presidential nominee or been elected president.
Lawyer, senator, diplomat. In Arkansas, she was a lawyer at a top firm while Bill Clinton was governor. She advised her husband after he won the White House in 1992. In the Senate, she struck a bipartisan tone at times. Her Senate vote for the 2002 Iraq invasion became a point of contention in 2008; Obama had spoken out against the "dumb war." At the State Department, she was a hawkish member of Obama's national security team. She helped set the foundation for nuclear talks with Iran.
The daughter of a small-business owner and homemaker, Clinton grew up in suburban Chicago. As a senior at Wellesley College, she delivered a 1969 commencement speech that earned national attention. At Yale Law School, she met Bill Clinton. After working as a child advocate, Clinton followed her future husband back to Arkansas, where he launched his political career. The couple's 35-year-old daughter, Chelsea Clinton, gave birth to her first child, Charlotte, in September.
Calling card moment
A 1995 address in Beijing and her final campaign event in 2008 are signature moments. As first lady, Clinton declared in a speech at a UN conference on women that "human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights." The speech challenged human rights abuses of women and helped set the tone for Clinton's work years later in the State Department. Her 2008 speech, delivered after Obama locked up the nomination, told supporters they had made "18 million cracks" in the glass ceiling, denoting the number of primary votes she won. It left the impression of unfinished business and the potential for a woman eventually to win the White House. Her critics remember her for blaming her husband's scandals on a "vast right wing conspiracy."
Early campaign action
Clinton has signalled that she intends to make a major push in the Iowa caucuses, won by Obama in 2008. Her team has hired a former top aide to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to lead her Iowa campaign. Her ties to New Hampshire are much stronger. State Democrats remember Bill Clinton's surprising second-place finish in the 1992 primary that helped him overcome charges of draft dodging and womanising. Hillary Clinton surprised Obama by winning the 2008 New Hampshire primary.
Clinton wrote Hard Choices, about her time as secretary of state, and promoted the book around the country in 2014. The book generated mediocre sales and Clinton stumbled at times during the book tour, saying in one interview that she and her husband were "dead broke" when they left the White House. While they faced large legal bills from the Whitewater investigation, the couple made millions after Bill Clinton's presidency; the comments were considered tone-deaf. Clinton already was a publishing powerhouse at that point. Her 2003 book, Living History, sold more than 1 million copies. During her husband's presidency, she released It Takes a Village in 1996, a book that discussed her work in child advocacy and steps to help children become productive adults. Other books: Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets, in 1998, and An Invitation to the White House: At Home with History, in 2000.
Online and social media
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10 important dates in her own words
Here in Hillary Clinton's own words are 10 of the most important events leading up to her biggest challenge yet.
- 1947: Birth -
Hillary Diane Rodham was born in Chicago on October 26, to a middle-class suburban family.
"I was born an American in the middle of the twentieth century, a fortunate time and place. I was free to make choices unavailable to past generations of women in my own country and inconceivable to many women in the world today." - Clinton in her memoir Living History
- 1969: Yale -
Clinton enrolled at prestigious Yale Law School where she would meet her future husband Bill Clinton in the spring of 1971. The couple married in Arkansas in 1975.
"So I stood up from the desk, walked over to him and said, 'If you're going to keep looking at me, and I'm going to keep looking back, we might as well be introduced. I'm Hillary Rodham.' That was it. The way Bill tells the story, he couldn't remember his own name." - Clinton in her memoir Living History
- 1978: Arkansas -
Bill Clinton was elected governor of Arkansas, making Hillary Rodham the state's first lady. Yielding to pressure, she agreed to take Bill's last name several years later.
"I decided it was more important for Bill to be governor again than for me to keep my maiden name. So when Bill announced his run for another term on Chelsea's second birthday, I began calling myself Hillary Rodham Clinton." - Clinton in her memoir Living History
- 1995: Beijing -
As US first lady, Clinton spoke at the UN's Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, where she delivered her now famous line, which she still evokes 20 years on.
"Human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights." - Clinton at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women plenary session
- 1998: Lewinsky -
Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky captivated national attention. Hillary Clinton initially believed his denial and supported her husband publicly.
"Bill and I have been accused of everything, including murder, by some of the very same people who are behind these allegations. So from my perspective, this is part of the continuing political campaign against my husband," - Clinton in an NBC Today Show interview
- 2000: Senator -
Clinton is easily elected to the US Senate two months before she and Bill left the White House.
"Why the Senate and why New York and why me? And all I can say is that I care deeply about the issues that are important in this state, that I've already been learning about and hearing about." - Clinton tells reporters in Davenport, New York in 1999
- 2002: War in Iraq -
Senator Clinton voted to authorize president George W. Bush to use military force against Saddam Hussein in Iraq. It's a vote she will later say she came to regret.
"I take the president at his word that he will try hard to pass a United Nations resolution and seek to avoid war, if possible." - Clinton on the Senate floor
- 2008: Primaries -
Clinton entered the Democratic presidential primary race in January 2007 and was favored to win. However she was beaten 17 months later by fellow senator Barack Obama.
"Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it." - Clinton tells supporters conceding defeat
- 2009: Secretary of State -
Clinton takes on the role of US top diplomat, visiting 112 countries as Secretary of State, including a historic trip to Burma in which she met opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
"I believe with all my heart that this is a new era for America," - Clinton on her first day as secretary of state
- 2012: Benghazi -
Four Americans including the ambassador were killed in attacks on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012. Clinton testified in January 2013 in tense hearings before lawmakers on the attacks.
"As I have said many times, I take responsibility, and nobody is more committed to getting this right." - Clinton at Senate hearing
Clinton on issues of the 2016 campaign
With Hillary Rodham Clinton announcing her candidacy Sunday for the 2016 Democratic nomination for president, a look at where she stands on some issues:
Clinton sees growing income inequality and wage stagnation as a major problem, and has made this topic a prominent theme in many of her public remarks this year. As a senator and then as a presidential candidate in the 2008 race, she called for equal pay for women, increasing the minimum wage, expanding tax credits for poorer families, overhauling corporate tax provisions, expanding paid family leave and universal prekindergarten. Clinton has been careful to avoid a divisive message, shying away from the more populist rhetoric that many in her party believe is necessary. The paid speeches she has given since leaving the State Department and her lament in an interview last summer about once being "dead broke" led to criticism that she does not understand the concerns of working Americans.
Clinton is under pressure from liberals to back plans raising taxes on the wealthiest and increase regulation of Wall Street, in part by reinstating Depression-era law repealed by her husband's administration that separated commercial from investment banking. Clinton has not taken a position on that law, though in 2007, she proposed raising taxes on income made by many investment managers. That income is taxed at the 15 percent capital gains rate. She has been supportive of policies increasing taxes on higher income families, saying in a 2010 speech that the "rich are not paying their fair share." Liberals are also critical of her 2001 vote for a bankruptcy overhaul - backed by banks - that would have made it more difficult for consumers to get relief from debts. She later said she regretted her vote. She has accepted hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions from US companies, including Wall Street banks, for her political campaigns and philanthropic foundation, donations that make some in her party sceptical of her.
As first lady, Clinton backed the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying in 1996 that the pact was "proving its worth." But as a presidential candidate in 2007, she called the deal "a mistake," calling for a "trade timeout" and the selection of a prosecutor to enforce current deals before entering into any new agreements. Labour unions and liberal activists are pushing Clinton to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership, now being negotiated by the Obama administration. While Clinton has not expressed a clear opinion on the deal, she cast the agreement in more favourable terms in her memoir, Hard Choices, writing that while it "won't be perfect" the pact "should benefit American businesses and workers."
Foreign policy is one of Clinton's few areas of disagreement with the Obama administration. She has criticised President Barack Obama for taking a cautious approach to global crises, dismissing his doctrine of "don't do stupid stuff" as "not an organising principle." As secretary of state, Clinton advocated for arming Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar Assad, a suggestion that was not followed by the White House. While acknowledging in an August interview that she could not definitively say that her recommendations would have changed the situation, she said "the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled."
ISRAEL & IRAN
In recent weeks Clinton has avoided commenting publicly on US-Israeli relations, which became strained after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress and re-election. While supportive of Israel as a New York senator, she described her role as secretary of state as the "designated yeller," who angered Netanyahu by demanding a total freeze on settlement expansion. She called her position misguided in her memoir. She's expressed cautious support for Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, though remarked the "devil was in the details." Previously, she said she was sceptical that Iran would abide by any deal struck with the US.
Clinton now supports same-sex marriage, saying that she has "evolved" from her opposition as first lady, senator and secretary of state. She denounced an Indiana law that would give increased protections to businesses and religious groups that object to providing services to gay customers. She supports abortion rights and frequently cites the Democratic line that the procedure should be "safe, legal, and rare."
Clinton has described climate change as the most "consequential, urgent, sweeping" problem facing the world, telling college students in March she hopes for a "mass movement" on the issue. She has promised to protect "at all costs" regulations put in place by the Obama administration that set federal limits on carbon pollution from existing and future power plants. But Clinton has remained silent on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from western Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast, saying she would not express an opinion on a pending international issue.