A powwow for Hillary

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The wheels are in motion around a 2016 White House campaign for Hillary Clinton, even though she isn’t an official candidate yet.

Influential Clintonites, top officials from pro-Clinton political action committees and even a few key players from the team that helped get President Obama elected in 2008 and 2012 will gather in New York on Friday to meet with several hundred donors affiliated with the Ready for Hillary super-PAC.

{mosads}The Hill has also learned that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will speak to the group in one of the four panel discussions entitled, “Why I’m ready for Hillary.”

The daylong session at a hotel in midtown Manhattan will feature a series of wide-ranging strategy sessions with top donors who have raised or contributed $5,000 for Ready for Hillary.

They will also discuss lessons learned from the 2014 midterm elections that imposed a crushing defeat on Democrats, and how those lessons will affect the 2016 race for the White House.

The idea behind the conference is to get ready for a Clinton candidacy, which most expect to be announced within the first few months of 2015.

Top donors attending Friday’s event include Marc Stanley; a prominent Texas lawyer and chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council; Amber and Steve Mostyn, two trial lawyers from Houston; investor Sandy Robertson; Barbara Lee, the president and founder of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation; and Ronald Feldman, who owns an art gallery in New York.

The donors will hear from several Washington political players, including Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; and Stephanie Schriock, the head of EMILY’s List. Both Cecil and Schriock have been mentioned as potential campaign managers for Clinton, should she run in 2016.

Big names from Clinton World attending the event include strategists James Carville, Paul Begala and Harold Ickes, as well as Ace Smith, who is expected to play a crucial role in a 2016 campaign. Carville is a columnist for The Hill.

Key Ready for Hillary officials including Adam Parkhomenko, and David Brock, who heads up the pro-Clinton super-PAC Correct the Record, will also be on hand, as will Mitch Stewart, Obama’s battleground states director in 2012.

Stewart recently told Talking Points Memo that Clinton can expand Obama’s electoral map by making a play for Georgia and Arkansas, among other states.

Though Clinton officially is still making a decision about whether she’ll run for president, the meeting sends strong signals to political observers that the operation around her is humming and all systems are go.

The only thing they need is Clinton’s cue that she is in fact ready.

“At the end of the day, only she could kick this off,” one organizer said. “We don’t have a candidate, but we want to make sure we’re ready to go if and when we do.”

While Ready for Hillary struggled at the start a couple of years ago, it has proven to be a powerful force for Clinton.

It has already raised more than $10 million and, more importantly, built a hefty database of supporters and donors. That data would be ready to hand off to Clinton should she buy or rent it from the super-PAC.

At the same time, other political action committees, such as Correct the Record have emerged on the landscape. Correct the Record, which will continue to run its operation through 2016, has had a big role in handling Clinton’s rapid response, defending the former secretary of State’s record and putting out her views on a variety of topics.

Priorities USA, a super-PAC that began as a pro-Obama committee, has shifted into a group that is raising big money for a Clinton effort, while EMILY’s List, which backs female candidates who are pro-abortion rights, has been focused on its Madam President initiative.

While there’s been some tension among the groups, all four organizations “have worked well together to make sure that, in the absence of a candidate, we’re doing everything we can to put her in a position to win,” said one
super-PAC official.

Organizers for the meeting on Friday say there will be different discussions throughout the day for the donors and lots of time for question-and-answer sessions.

“If she’s ready to start the engine, so are we,” one organizer said.

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