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We’ve barely finished a bruising, expensive campaign for president, but it’s not too early to be thinking about who would make an excellent candidate for the presidency in 2016 – particularly if there is a conspicuously capable individual already on the political scene.

There is such a candidate, and it should surprise no one that her name is Hillary Clinton.

She would bring vastly more leadership, experience and judgment to the White House, compared with its current occupant.

Her talent was recognized early. When she and Bill graduated from Yale Law School, it was Hillary the top law firms and political organizations wanted.

She developed her political skills while serving as first lady of Arkansas and, especially, the United States. She then struck out on her own to run for senator from New York to replace retiring Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. To say that the people of New York did not immediately warm to her is an understatement. She has often been a polarizing political figure who is either adored or despised, but she managed to overcome that hurdle to be elected in 2000 and re-elected in 2006 by about a 2-to-1 margin. Clinton served the state well, building a reputation as a consensus-builder, during her eight years in the Senate.

She not only knows the right thing to do, she also knows how to do it.

Her strong run for the Democratic nomination for president came up short against the Barack Obama tide, but she generously agreed to serve in Obama’s cabinet. In four exhausting years as secretary of state, Clinton has represented the United States well around the world. She helped assemble two coalitions of nations: One brought down Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the other is applying increasing pressure on Iran. She pushed for democratic reforms in Myanmar, also known as Burma; progress there has led to Obama’s trip to that nation later this month.

Strangely, the biggest roadblock to becoming president is Clinton herself. She will be stepping down from the State Department soon, and says she is not interested in another run for president. After some time to rest and reflect, however, she may find renewed fire to pursue unfinished business.

There are few individuals on the national scene more persuasive than Bill Clinton. His encouragement might be all she needs to get her campaign organization back in gear.

For the country’s sake, and because she clearly is the best candidate, we hope the competing factions in national Democratic politics will coalesce to make her the nominee.