“It might just be the first step in a makeover of presidential proportions,” crowed the New York Daily News earlier this week. “Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared Monday at [an] Arkansas library dedication, sporting a new refined hairdo that could be a sign of her further polishing her image ahead of a 2016 White House bid.”
Oh, for goodness sake, has she – and have we – not yet graduated from all that talk of the former secretary of State’s up-dos and -don’ts? Yes, as the Daily News reminds us in a slide show accompanying this vital story, Ms. Clinton has, over 30 years in public life, sported a bob, a classic Washington helmet head, a ponytail, and long and loose straightened locks, among many, many other looks. And oh, those 1990s headbands!
But, really. Hardly a week can go by without a new critical (or in this case limp) indicator that she might be, should be, is perhaps running for president.
Hair speculation aside, let’s note somewhat more importantly that ABC News Wednesday reported two new hires at Ready for Hillary, the "super political-action committee" encouraging the former first lady to run for president in 2016. And those staffers are veterans of President Obama’s campaigns: Jeremy Bird was the national field director for Mr. Obama, and Mitch Stewart led the organization’s efforts in critical battleground states.
The pickups, more than just sparking speculation, could indicate a hoped-for (at least among Democrats) seamless transition between the well-oiled and famously expansive Obama ground-game operation and a 2016 Clinton enterprise.
“It’s her decision to make,” Mr. Bird told ABC News. “This is about putting the infrastructure in place on the grass-roots side, should she decide to run.”
The Ready for Hillary group is not officially backed – nor is it permitted to be, per election laws – by Clinton, her husband, or daughter Chelsea. The Washington Post reported, though, that it “is fast emerging as the quasi-official stand-in for potential 2016 presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton, scooping up advisers and gathering big donations more than three years ahead of election time.”
Nick Merrill, a Clinton spokesman, told The Washington Post that participants in Ready for Hillary “are an independent entity acting on their own passion.”
He continued: “Their energy and enthusiasm to convince her to run is inspiring, though only she in the end can make that very personal decision.”
Still, several longtime Clinton allies and boosters have signed on, including a band of formidable fundraisers: former California Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher; Shelly Porges, a former senior adviser of the State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP); and Esprit cofounder Susie Tompkins Buell, among them.
The group also aims to open chapters on college campuses this fall, another early nod to one critical element of Obama’s success – the youth vote.
And then, what’s a burgeoning movement without the swag? All available for purchase ... T-shirts ($30), iPhone home button dots ($10), baseball caps ($35), and what looks like a unisex tote bag ($35) emblazoned with Clinton’s visage and the word ‘READY’ or the group’s ‘H’ logo.
And finally – at least for this week – Emily’s List is taking its ‘Madame President’ pitch to Des Moines in time for the Iowa State Fair, a must-go for all those White House hopefuls aiming to grip and greet voters in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. Emily’s List, which advocates for female Democratic pro-abortion rights candidates for office, will hold a town hall meeting Aug. 9 to discuss its data indicating a national readiness for a woman in the country’s top elected job.
"Our polling shows that Iowa voters are absolutely ready to elect our first woman president and now is the time to capitalize on that energy and enthusiasm," said Stephanie Schriock, the group’s president. "Emily's List is eager to lead this discussion in the state that is the first step to the White House – and offer a clear contrast to the Republican 2016 hopefuls who'll be hawking their backwards agenda at the Iowa State Fair."
It’s at least a year until primary stumping begins in earnest, but let’s remember that Iowa caucus-goers elevated Obama in 2008 over Clinton (and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards), giving the then-first-term US senator from Illinois a much-desired legitimacy at the start of a long nomination fight. Perhaps with some of Obama’s faithful allies on her side and groups like Emily’s List focused laser-like and early on key contests, Clinton will see an easier path to the nomination in 2016.
Otherwise, what will her hopeful supporters do with all those ‘H’ iPhone home buttons?