First on CNN: Democratic group says Hillary Clinton helped McAuliffe win
CNN's Ashley Killough and Paul Steinhauser
Washington (CNN) - A Democratic group normally known for doing opposition research on Republicans is adding a new project to its workload, by stepping in to defend potential 2016 Democratic presidential contenders.
As part of its "Correct the Record" campaign, American Bridge is putting out positive messages for Democrats for the first time–rather than just negative ones about Republicans–as none of the potential candidates has a campaign apparatus to do the work.
Its first Democrat to spotlight?
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, of course. As the possible frontrunner in the 2016 race, she's already seeing attacks by Republicans eager to negatively define her before she decides to step in the ring, herself.
Pointing to exit poll data, the group argues that Clinton helped carry Virginia for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe in Tuesday's close election.
Clinton re-emerged on the political stage last month for the first time in years when she endorsed McAuliffe and spoke at one of his campaign events in Falls Church, Virginia. The former Democratic National Committee chairman is a longtime friend, adviser, and fundraiser to Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
"The results are in, and the Hillary effect is clear," reads a memo that "Correct the Record" will release Wednesday by its director, Isaac Wright. "With Clinton's help, McAuliffe switched a Southern swing-state Governor's office from Red to Blue."
The group cites exit poll data for unmarried women, which McAuliffe won by 42 percentage points.
But on a whole, the gender gap wasn't as wide. McAuliffe carried 51% of women in general, while Cuccinelli took 42%. And polls showed McAuliffe was ahead among women well before Clinton hit the trail.
The group also claims that McAuliffe, with help from Clinton, cut the GOP's advantage among white women from 27 percentage points in 2009 down to 16 percentage points this year.
Clinton wasn't the only high-profile Democrat to show her support for McAuliffe. Her husband, as well as President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden also campaigned for the candidate in the final weeks of the race.
American Bridge announced in July it would start "Correct the Record," and rolled out a list of new hires for the campaign last week, including Burns Strider, a senior adviser to Clinton and director of faith-based outreach in her 2008 presidential campaign.
It also listed a number of prominent progressive donors who are backing the effort, including Susie Tompkins Buell, national co-chair of Ready for Hillary PAC.