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New York Times Highlights Ready for Hillary's Grassroots Efforts

The New York Times | November 11, 2013


Mrs. Clinton has never had a problem raising money from deep-pocketed donors, but her 2008 campaign lacked the grass-roots enthusiasm and modest Internet donations that buoyed Mr. Obama. Ready for Hillary hopes to build that kind of support.

A grass-roots super PAC may seem an oxymoron: such groups can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on political races as long as they do not coordinate with a candidate. But rather than invest in expensive television ads, Ready for Hillary puts all of its donations into building its email list of supporters.

For every $25,0000 the group raises, it cuts a payment to Rising Tide Interactive, a firm that helps build online lists of supporters. A social media tool on the website will allow supporters to work together to organize to plan rallies and small-dollar fund-raising events. With no candidate and over a year before a potential campaign, Ready for Hillary has roughly a million names on its email list, about half the size of the Hillary for President campaign list at the time Mrs. Clinton suspended her campaign in 2008.

“It’s not our job to be a campaign and it’s not our job to make decisions to tie any potential candidate’s hands,” said Craig T. Smith, an aide in the administration of President Bill Clinton and senior adviser to Ready for Hillary. “The goal is to build a list.”

The strategy is an acknowledgment of mistakes made by Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 campaign, but also a recognition that she cannot simply run as the establishment candidate with inside-the-Beltway support without also inspiring young and minority voters who largely favored Mr. Obama in 2008. Mr. Stewart helped Mr. Obama pick up delegates in small but important caucus states and turn states like Arizona, New Mexico and Virginia into battlegrounds by tapping into changing demographics.

A lineup of longtime Clinton backers and aides will attend Tuesday’s meeting, including Susie Tompkins Buell of San Francisco; Ann Lewis, a former adviser to both Clintons; Jennifer M. Granholm, the former governor of Michigan; and Tracy Sefl, a Democratic strategist. Along with Ms. Sefl, two young Ready for Hillary volunteers, Taj Magruder, 23, of Philadelphia, and Haley Adams, a student at Yale, will open the event, signaling that the Clinton world intends to bring in fresh voices, even if it means edging some loyal aides out.

The event signals a turning point for Ready for Hillary.