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Politics

Super-PAC for Hillary Clinton Takes on Tampa

October 21, 2013 - 6:00pm

The 2016 presidential election may be three years away, but that hasnt stopped a super-PAC from encouraging former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make a second bid for the highest position in national politics.

Ready for Hillary arrived in Tampa on Tuesday for a fundraising and informational event. Hosted by former Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman, the event featured Craig T. Smith, who served as a former assistant to President Bill Clinton and as White House political director for the president and the first lady.

Smith is just one of several high-profile Democrats who have pledged their support for Hillary Clinton to make a run for president in 2016. Other supporters include Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Obama campaign veterans Jeremy Bird and Mitch Stewart.

Smith spoke to a crowd of about 100 people at Mise en Place in Tampa, firing them up to support the super-PAC -- and Clinton.

He explained, however, that while Ready for Hillary is a large organization, its no run-of-the-mill PAC. Should Hillary decide to run again in 2016, the approach would be much different than the one Clinton took when she decided to run for president in 2008.

Were a different kind of super-PAC, he said. We are the first-ever grassroots super-PAC. This is all about organizing people ... [The 2008 campaign] was very top-down, very Washington, D.C. ... were doing it different this time if [Hillary] decides to run.

The former White House political director also said it was important to mobilize young people in order to make 2016s campaign more successful than 2008s.

We cant run the campaign of yesterday. Weve got to run the campaign of tomorrow, began Smith. We have to have new people, we have to have young people ... we need everybody in order to make this work.

The Arlington, Va.-based super-PAC has already been making waves. It raised $1.25 million in the first six months of the year and has more than a million followers on Facebook.

Those numbers keep growing. According to Smith, the group is signing up 10,000 more supporters every day.

Should Clinton ultimately decide to run, this means she would already have a strong following mobilized and tapped into her donor base.

First vice chair of the Florida Democratic Party, Alan Clendenin, told Sunshine State News that Hillary Clintons extensive roles in national politics make her not only a leader, but a role model for women in the U.S.

I think we need to have role models in this country for women to emulate, said Clendenin. I think [Hillary] would be an incredible president and an incredible role model.

Ultimately, the decision is Clintons on whether she wants to make a run for the White House, but polls suggest she is in a good position to take the Democratic nomination in 2016.

This is something shes going to have to think long and hard about, said Smith. And knowing there are people ... ready to stand with her, hopefully will help her make the right decision.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen atallison@sunshinestatenews.comor follow her on Twitter at@AllisonNielsen.

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