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Democrats preparing for Hillary Clinton campaign

November 21, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton’s staunchest supporters held a daylong strategy session Friday to prepare for a 2016 presidential bid — even though she has yet to announce whether she will launch one.

Ready for Hillary, a Democratic political action committee unaffiliated with the former secretary of state, convened a meeting of Clinton insiders for strategy sessions aimed at helping elect Clinton if she runs. The closed-door planning session about two weeks after Democrats’ dismal midterm election performance comes as Clinton, the party’s leading presidential contender, considers whether she will seek the presidency again in 2016.

“It was a leap of faith,” said Harold Ickes, a longtime Clinton White House adviser who has worked with Ready for Hillary. “We didn’t know if people would come to us but we now have 3 million names which will be important to her if she runs.”

The event drew about 200 financial backers who listened to panel discussions on lessons learned from the 2014 election, the media landscape and what the 2016 campaign might look like. Attendees professed no inside knowledge on when Clinton would make her decision but said the early organizing on her behalf would make the transition from private citizen to a candidate much easier.

“It’s given her the luxury of time,” said Jerry Crawford, an Iowa attorney who has been a longtime backer of the Clintons.

Attendees also cautioned against the notion that Clinton would have a big advantage because of her existing network from former President Bill Clinton’s two terms and her own political operation. “She’s not inevitable,” said Adam Parkhomenko, Ready for Hillary’s executive director. “It’s not going to be easy.”

Craig Smith, a senior adviser to Ready for Hillary and former Clinton White House aide, said Hillary Clinton should not run for a “third Bill Clinton term” or as President Barack Obama’s third term. “She should run for a first Hillary Clinton term.”

Ready for Hillary, which was founded in 2013, has identified 3 million supporters, signed up more than 1.5 million people promising to help Clinton if she runs and has raised more than $10 million. The group expects to fold if Clinton launches her presidential campaign and then transfer its data and list of supporters to the former first lady’s campaign.

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Follow Ken Thomas on Twitter: http://twitter.com/KThomasDC

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