Clinton embarks on book tour – or is it campaign trail?

Clinton embarks on book tour – or is it campaign trail?

WASHINGTON - Hillary Clinton embarks this week on her most high-profile tour since leaving the State Department, a cross-country bonanza where the American public and media will focus as much on her political future as her past.

Of course, she is hawking her new memoir too. "Hard Choices," which details her four-year tenure as President Barack Obama's first secretary of state, hits bookshelves Tuesday and is the rationale for the publicity blitz.

But the optics of Clinton's weeks-long book tour, when she comes face to face with voters and refreshes some of the skills she has not used as much since leaving public office last year, unavoidably suggest the opening salvo of a 2016 presidential run.

Team Hillary has spent months carefully crafting a systematic rollout of the most anticipated book of the year, teasing the Beltway press corps with excerpts about her response to the deadly attacks in Benghazi and how America remains the "indispensable nation." Along the way, the former first lady has kept up a frenetic pace of speeches and television interviews, a whirlwind that will only intensify beginning Monday with a one-hour interview with ABC News, followed by a swarm of book-related events in places like New York, Chicago and even Canada.

Amid the battle by US networks for on-air interviews, Clinton has scheduled speeches in Philadelphia and Kansas City, a townhall in Washington, a book-signing event at a Virginia Costco and a "conversation" in Austin, Texas, among several other appearances in June.

The woman who narrowly lost the 2008 Democratic nomination to Obama has even agreed to a sit-down interview with Fox News, hardly the friendliest of media outlets for Clinton.

Would someone not interested in the world's top job really be putting herself through such paces?

"Obviously, she's getting ready to run for president, (and) she well knows that everything she does is a step in the direction of that goal," University of Michigan assistant professor Michael Heaney told AFP.

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