Why is Hillary Clinton delaying her campaign kickoff?

Politico reports that Hillary Clinton is likely to delay the official launch of her 2016 presidential campaign. What is the strategy behind the decision?

John Woods/The Canadian Press/AP
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Wednesday.

Bad news for those eager to see Hillary Clinton kick off her presidential campaign: Insiders on Team Clinton say that the former Secretary of State will likely delay her campaign launch by at least three months, and that has some wondering if Hillary is in trouble.

Until now, most expected the Clinton campaign to officially kickoff in April, the beginning of a new fundraising quarter, but her campaign team recently told Politico that it will put off campaign launch until summer. 

"Hillary Clinton, expecting no major challenge for the Democratic nomination, is strongly considering delaying the formal launch of her presidential campaign until July, three months later than originally planned, top Democrats tell Politico," the site reported Thursday.

Of course, the news was greeted with some trepidation (or glee) on both sides of the political spectrum.

"Hillary retreats deeper into cocoon," trumpeted a Fox News headline.

"It is time to panic about Hillary Clinton again," Esquire wrote.

Is it time to panic – or celebrate – depending on your political inclination? Has Hillary hit a snag?

To the contrary, she probably feels very secure in her (likely) candidacy.

As an unnamed source told Politico, “She doesn’t feel under any pressure, and they see no primary challenge on the horizon. If you have the luxury of time, you take it.”

And why not? No other Democratic contender is even close to challenging Hillary's bid and pressuring her into an early declaration. Former one-term Senator Jim Webb has announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee. But the former Virginia senator is considered a long shot for the nomination. Ditto former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Polls show Clinton far ahead of any potential Democratic rivals.

As for Republican rivals, the challenge will likely be stiffer, further reason for Hillary to remain unannounced for now. As soon as she announces, you can bet that all of her Republican rivals – and there will be many – will unite to attack.

"So the Clinton camp has enjoyed watching her recede from the headlines in recent weeks as Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney have amped up their potential candidacies," writes Politico.

What's more, one of Hillary's vulnerabilities is appearing too political, and a Former Secretary of State Clinton is more popular than Candidate Clinton.

And a delay just gives Clinton more time to sharpen her message, build her staff, and refine her campaign – without the public spotlight.

But delaying her campaign kickoff isn't without dangers.

For one, it may make Hillary appear complacent, overconfident, or entitled.

"The danger — and a reason the plan could be scrapped — is that the comparatively leisurely rollout could fuel complaints that Clinton sees the nomination fight as a coronation," writes Politico. "Already, her allies are contemplating the possibility that she might not have to debate before the general election."

If some Democrats see it that way, most conservatives certainly do.

"This should terrify Democrats," warns Fox News. "If the campaign cocoon is so dense and so deep that courtiers are publicly quibbling in the press about the right moment for the monarch butterfly to emerge, they are farther out of touch with reality than even previous reporting had indicated.

"But if this really is Clinton herself speaking through an emissary, it would suggest the kind of stage fright that foretells a risk-averse, bloodless, pre-fab campaign...Those were the hallmarks of Clinton’s losing endeavor in 2008 and, if the leaks are to be believed, the tendencies have deepened in the past seven years..."

While it's unlikely Hillary is suffering from stage fright and is less than clear-eyed about the 2016 race (this isn't her first time, after all), she shouldn't take her frontrunner status for granted.

As Hot Air's Ed Morrissey wrote, at this time eight years ago, "Obama['s] candidacy...looked like a bid to be Hillary’s VP choice or a credibility-establishing effort for a later, more serious campaign."

In other words, Hillary shouldn't get too comfortable just yet.

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