By Ian Swanson - 02/11/14 12:01 AM EST
Members of Team Clinton started talking about a 2016 presidential bid months before the former first lady left the State Department.
The night President Obama won his second term, Allida Black and Adam Parkhomenko, veterans of Clinton’s 2008 campaign for the White House, exchanged emails about plans to start Ready for Hillary — a super-PAC promoting another run for the White House.
While Clinton didn’t formally approve the political action committee, Black believed she had Clinton’s blessing, according to a book published Tuesday by The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Bloomberg’s Jonathan Allen.
The book, titled HRC, reports that just months after Clinton left the State Department, longtime adviser Cheryl Mills — who functions as Hillary Clinton’s consigliere — met with Guy Cecil, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and a candidate to manage Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
Their April 2013 conversation quickly turned to the what-ifs of 2016, according to HRC.
“ ‘It was about her, what’s she going to do next, and then it was like if she ran, who should be the manager,’ ” the book quotes a source familiar with the conversation as saying.
The book concludes that for Clinton, the decision isn’t about running for the White House — that’s already happening, it says.
Instead, it contends that Clinton’s only decision is whether she should not be making a bid, turning off an operation that is already moving forward. A CNN poll released late last week found more than 70 percent of Democrats say they would support her if she made a run official.
While a negative turn in Clinton’s health could shut things down, there is little evidence that she will not seek the White House in 2016.
The Ready for Hillary super-PAC was a key indicator.
HRC states that Black “believed strongly that if Hillary didn’t like what she was doing, someone high up in Hillaryland would call and say ‘Allida, shut this down!’
“That call never came, and over time an increasing number of high-profile Hillary loyalists jumped on board to give the fledgling super PAC a boost in credibility and fund-raising prowess,” the book reports.
Political advisers Harold Ickes and James Carville and former Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), all close to Clinton, signed on in advisory roles in 2013. Craig T. Smith, who had been a White House political director under former President Clinton, was hired to run the group’s day-to-day activities.
Hillary Clinton allies were given tacit approval to support Ready for Hillary.
“They did give me the yellow light,” one major donor told the book’s authors. “I got the feeling that if I wanted to do it, they thought it was a good idea.”
Meanwhile, Mills “became the de factor chief of informational interviews for political operatives who wanted to get in on the ground floor of Hillary for President 2.0.”
Even Clinton’s decision to leave the Obama administration at the beginning of the president’s second term — despite a personal plea from Obama for her to stay on — suggests a desire and intent to giver her brand some distance from Obama’s well before the 2016 campaign.
And when Bill Clinton became Obama’s top surrogate during his 2012 reelection effort, his campaign stops in the fall were also meant to help his wife.
The dates were arranged by both Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina and Cecil. The 42nd president made a handful of stops to help congressional candidates who had been loyal to Hillary Clinton, including Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.), who ended up losing her race.
In 2012, the book reports that Bill Clinton wasn’t asked to campaign for people “who were hard-core Obama supporters. He did events for people that endorsed and supported Hillary.”