By Domenico Montanaro, Deputy Political Editor, NBC News Follow @DomenicoNBC It’s nice work, if you can get it.
On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton begins what will likely be the most lucrative part of her life – so far – as she gives her first paid speech in Dallas, Texas. She’s expected, like her ex-president husband, to command a whopping $200,000-plus for each appearance. To put that in perspective, Clinton’s salary as secretary of state, where she logged more frequent-flyer miles than any American envoy ever, was a paltry-by-comparison $186,600.
That means if she gives just 10 speeches this year, she’ll take home a cool $2 million — before she pays taxes to Uncle Sam, of course. Clinton’s speech Wednesday at the posh Four Seasons Resort and Club in Dallas will be before the National Multi Housing Council and is conveniently located just 25 minutes from Southern Methodist University, the site of the George W. Bush presidential library, which opens Thursday. Clinton and husband, Bill, are expected to attend, as will the Obamas. Clinton’s remarks are closed to the press, but speculation abounds about what the potential 2016 frontrunner might say.
In particular, people will be looking for any clues about a future White House run for the former first lady, who would be a favorite to become the first woman president. Clinton’s won’t be the only paid speech delivered Wednesday by a potential White House hopeful. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of the 43rd president, is also speaking in Dallas before The World Affairs Council of Dallas-Fort Worth. George W. Bush — who has stayed on the political sidelines over the last four years, tending to a painting hobby and making paid speeches of his own — told Parade magazine Sunday that he hopes his brother does run and doesn’t think his last name will hurt him. “I would hope that people would judge [him], if Jeb were to run, on his merits and his track record,” Bush said, adding, “So I hope he will run.”
Clinton, who routinely tops polls as the most admired woman in the world, stands to make tens of millions of dollars, potentially hundreds of millions, as one of the mostly highly coveted speakers on the globe. She’s signed up with the Harry Walker Agency, the same group that represents Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Dick Cheney, as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Shaquille O’Neal, Martin Sheen, and Bono.
Bill Clinton has reportedly earned some $89 million in paid speeches since leaving office, including $13.4 million from 54 speeches in 2011, according to the most recent financial disclosure form his wife filed as secretary of state. That’s an average speaking fee of more than $248,000.
There is risk, however, in all this potential cash for the former secretary of state and New York senator. As reporters and campaign-opposition researchers follow the money, she will need to pick her speeches wisely, if she is indeed considering a 2016 bid. Presidential candidates are required to file financial disclosure forms, and in them, they’re expected to detail — among other things — their paid speeches. Political opponents will comb through for any potential conflicts of interest or payments from groups — or countries — that might be considered unsavory.
Rest assured, opponents will leave no stone unturned. While Clinton currently enjoys sky-high favorability ratings – 56 percent positive, 29 percent negative in the April NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll – she will quickly become a target for the right if she jumps in. Opponents already are circulating, for example, a Republican House committee report going after Clinton for her role in the handling of the run up to the attacks on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. They’re all things Clinton will have to consider before jumping back into the deep end of the presidential pool — as she banks her millions.