John DiStaso's Granite Status: 'Ready for Hillary' top advisor in NH to start 'broad grassroots coalition'By John DiStaso, Senior Political Reporter
January 06. 2014 12:07PM
MONDAY, JAN. 6: IS NH 'READY FOR HILLARY?" Based on the long relationship between first-in-the-nation primary state Democrats and Bill and Hillary Clinton, the answer to that question is very likely "yes," they are ready for Hillary.
But to get the "lay of the land" far ahead of the 2016 presidential primary, Craig Smith, a national senior advisor to the Ready for Hillary grassroots PAC, was in the state Monday meeting with party activists.
Smith said he met with long-time party leaders Kathy Sullivan, Jim Demers, Ned Helms "and a lot of folks who are helping us and giving us guidance and direction.
"But basically, we're up here to continue our mission, which is to build a broad national grassroots organization of people who believe that (Hillary Clinton) is the most qualified person" to be the next President, "and to encourage her to run in 2016," Smith said.
He said he asked the leaders he met with to "identify people, ask them to go to our web site and sign up."
Smith said Ready for Hillary leaders also "want to make sure we build capacity, not only in terms of a broad based list of supporters, but who are also available to work in this year's mid-term elections. We hope they use that to help the broader Democratic Party and to develop skills, and get these people trained so they are ready in 2016, if she gets ready."
Sullivan, after meeting with Smith, said she “was very pleased to learn that Ready for Hillary plans to be very inclusive as it starts reaching out to people in New Hampshire to encourage Secretary Clinton to run in 2016. There is a lot of excitement about a potential Hillary Clinton run here.”
Between meetings, including a gathering at the Puritan Back Room restaurant, owned by Democratic Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, Smith lunched with state Democratic Chair Ray Buckley, who cannot take sides in a primary.
Smith and Buckley worked together on Bill Clinton's campaign in 1991 and several campaigns after that. Most recently, Smith worked as a consultant for the Association of State Democratic Chairs, which Buckley chairs.
The state's top advisor to the PAC, long-time supporter of both Clintons and former Bill Clinton administration Ambassador Terry Shumaker, says Smith, a former Clinton White House political director, was "getting the lay of the land, meeting with people, explaining to people" what the PAC hopes to do in New Hampshire, "and what it isn't. And then we hope to go from here."
Shumaker said Smith also met with organized labor activists.
"It's a very interesting concept," Shumaker said of Ready for Hillary, "as a grassroots political action committee."
Clinton has not, and cannot, sanction or endorse the PAC, but she has done nothing to discourage it.
"We've got a million-and-a-half people signed up already and over 30,000 small dollar donors," Shumaker said.
While Clinton has certainly not talked about any presidential plans, "We certainly hope to show her she has a very broad base of support across the country and certainly here, and try to encourage her to run and start building an organization so that if she decided to run, she'll have people behind her.
"The name kind of says it all," Shumaker said. "Stealing a line from the movie 'Field of Dreams,' we feel, 'If we build it, she will come -- we hope.'"
He added that the group hopes to roll out a group of New Hampshire supporters in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Smith has also planned a trip to first-caucus state Iowa later this month.
And Ready for Hillary has reportedly rented Hillary Clinton's email list from her 2008 campaign.
(See earlier Granite Status reports elsewhere on this page or by clicking on "Granite Status" above.)