Why Hillary Clinton may jump into presidential race soon

Clinton associates are now reportedly talking about an April launch, in response to anxious donors. Fundraising is one concern, as well as her ability to deflect attacks. 

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
Hillary Rodham Clinton smiles during a keynote address at the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women, Tuesday, Feb. 24, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is reportedly planning to announce her 2016 presidential race in April, not in July.

The report in The Wall Street Journal, citing close associates of Mrs. Clinton, represents a shift in direction. In late January, Team Clinton was putting out word that she may wait until July. After all, the argument went, she’s the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination, and the longer she stayed out as an announced candidate, the longer she could stave off the inevitable attacks. And raising money wouldn’t be a problem, no matter when she announced.

Now that thinking is apparently changing. Fundraising is a concern after all, in a race where the two major-party candidates alone are expected to raise well over $1 billion each.

“Jumping in sooner would help the Democratic field take shape, reassuring party leaders and donors that the former first lady, senator, and secretary of state is running,” the Journal reports. “A super PAC loyal to Mrs. Clinton has faced hesitation from donors who don’t want to make big pledges until she is a candidate. Such concerns would evaporate after she announces.”

Also at issue is her ability or willingness to respond to negative stories. News reports about the Clintons’ foundation taking donations from foreign governments have brought heaps of criticism onto the former first family, including from some prominent Democrats. So far, Clinton has not responded personally.  

The Clinton Foundation acknowledged last week that it had failed to submit a donation from the Algerian government to the State Department for approval in accordance with the foundation’s ethics rules.

If Clinton wasn’t planning to run for president, the donations would not create the appearance of foreign governments trying to curry favor with a secretary of State and possible future president. But as an all-but-certain candidate, Clinton faces just that problem.

Clinton’s unannounced status has also hardly spared her harsh criticism from the big field of likely Republican contenders. At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week, one candidate after another went after Clinton.

Businesswoman Carly Fiorina, the only woman in the likely GOP field, has positioned herself as the “anti-Hillary.”

"She tweets about women’s rights in this country and takes money from governments that deny women the most basic human rights,” Ms. Fiorina said at CPAC. "She tweets about equal pay for women but won’t answer basic questions about her own offices’ pay standards – and neither will our president. Hillary likes hashtags. But she doesn’t know what leadership means."

Fiorina also called on Clinton to explain why foreign government donations to the Clinton foundation don’t “represent a conflict of interest.”

The Republican National Committee, too, has not been sitting pat, waiting for Clinton to enter the race when she’s good and ready. Last month, the Republican National Committee launched a campaign called “Hillary’s Hiding,” trying to portray her as duplicitous: preparing a presidential campaign while acting as if she’s not a candidate.

But some sympathetic voices have also called on Clinton to get out there and start campaigning.

“Come to the Buckeye State, Hillary. Go to Kansas and Michigan, too, and to other places full of regular Americans who need to know they're on your mind,” wrote Cleveland-based columnist Connie Schultz last month. “Hold town halls, and take questions that aren't screened. Meet with editors at small and regional news organizations now, before your every quote is a response to someone else's attack.”

Clinton speaks Tuesday night at a gala hosted by the group Emily’s List, which works to elect pro-abortion-rights Democratic women to public office. She will be in friendly territory. Ditto other speeches she is giving this month. On March 19, she gives a paid speech in Atlantic City to the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey's Tri-State CAMP Conference.

But come April, the first month of the year’s second quarter, watch for a host of Republican candidates to announce either a full-fledged campaign or at least an exploratory committee. Clinton may well be in the mix. 

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