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Over the last two years I have engaged in countless discussions with Republican friends and colleagues about whether Hillary Clinton would run for president in 2016. What I discovered were two distinct schools of thought: Republicans who were hopeful that she would not run, and Republicans who were confident that she would not run.

Both camps believed that Clinton would bow out or not win her party’s nomination for one or more of the following reasons:

She has secret health problems.

She is too old and unattractive.

An “unknown” Democrat would rise up and defeat her for the nomination, a la 2008.

Her priorities will change once she becomes a grandmother.

Benghazi revelations will take her down.

As someone who since early 2013 was confident that Clinton would run for president in 2016, I believed that the “Clinton deniers” among my fellow Republicans were engaging in the political equivalent of sticking their heads in the sand.

Now, because of five news items that have unfolded during this month of September, Republican deniers must face the fact that not only is Clinton running, but that she will be a formidable opponent against any of the current potential GOP candidates. This, despite her many flaws and heavy baggage.

Here are September’s five important pieces of Hillary news that fit together like a puzzle—and the last two, without political precedent.

First, on September 5, in a speech at a charity event in Mexico, Clinton stated that she will announce her presidential intentions “after the first of the year.”

Why would a presidential candidate mention a specific time frame five months away unless the news was extremely positive for her supporters?

Second, on September 14, Hillary Clinton teased and winked-winked her way through retiring Iowa Senator Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry saying, "Hello Iowa. I'm back!"  Just those four words unleashed thousands of headlines like this one from the AP, “Hillary Clinton in Iowa Stirs 2016 Speculation.”

Third, the ever-shy potential “First Dude,” speaking at this same Iowa steak fry, sung the praises of Ready for Hillary, his wife’s “campaign-in-waiting,” which was out in force. “Amazing. They are amazing,” said the former president. “You know I saw some of them here. I think with the rules we’re not supposed to have any contact with them. They’re like Energizer Bunnies. They’re just everywhere.”

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