Pro-Hillary Clinton group courts NH politicians

AP News
Posted: Jan 06, 2014 5:05 PM

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — She has yet to decide her political future, but a group pushing Hillary Clinton to run for president is already working to strengthen her support in New Hampshire.

"It's a small state where personal relationships mean a lot. And both Bill and Hillary Clinton have deep personal relationships with a whole lot of people in New Hampshire," Craig Smith, a senior adviser for the super PAC known as Ready for Hillary, said while visiting the state Monday. "That creates opportunities for us here."

Ready for Hillary is building a national network to benefit Clinton should she decide to seek the presidency in 2016. As a super PAC, the organization can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money but cannot formally coordinate with the Clinton family or its representatives.

Smith, former White House political director under President Bill Clinton, spent the day courting local political officials, including union leaders and Democratic Party chairman Raymond Buckley.

The New Hampshire visit is part of a broader effort to expand the group's political clout in key states ahead of the 2014 midterm elections. Smith confirmed that in recent days, Ready for Hillary rented the 2008 Clinton campaign's list of supporter email addresses.

He said his group would likely "phase out" and give its assets to another super PAC should Clinton enter the 2016 race.

Before then, he said his organization would mobilize thousands of volunteers in New Hampshire and other states with competitive contests in 2014. Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Democrats and likely Clinton supporters, both face re-election.

"In some places, the 2014 elections are really important, like New Hampshire," Smith said. "We want to be helpful."

The state is expected to host the nation's first presidential primary contest in 2016. Smith said he would visit Iowa later in the month, the state that traditionally hosts the first caucuses.

New Hampshire voters have been good to the Clintons in the past.

Hillary Clinton scored a narrow victory in the 2008 presidential primary against then-Sen. Barack Obama. Her husband was dubbed "the comeback kid" after scoring a surprisingly strong second-place finish here in 1992.