2016 campaign checklist: Hillary Clinton

AP News
Posted: Jun 09, 2014 1:50 AM
2016 campaign checklist: Hillary Clinton

WASHINGTON (AP) — A look at Hillary Rodham Clinton's preparations for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:

Nondenial denial: "I just want to get through this year, travel around the country, sign books, help in the midterm elections in the fall and then take a deep breath and kind of go through my pluses and minuses." — June, ABC.

Book: Book tour coming after Tuesday's release of "Hard Choices" — the publishing event of the political season.

Visited Iowa: No. Steering clear of the early caucus/primary states. But Ready for Hillary, a super political action committee laying national groundwork for her potential candidacy, now is mobilizing for her in the state. The group dispatched 250 volunteers to Democratic county conventions to drum up support for her. (Third-place shocker in 2008 caucuses won by Barack Obama portended scrappy nomination fight to come.)

Visited New Hampshire: No. But Ready for Hillary is already working for her there. The group courted New Hampshire local officials, union leaders and the state Democratic chairman in a January visit and returned in March for a series of meetings with state lawmakers and organizers. (She beat Obama in 2008 primary to regain traction in nomination contest.)

South Carolina: No. But things are stirring. At a May meeting in Columbia partly sponsored by Ready for Hillary, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine urged Democratic women to "think about pledging your support right now" to ensure she has "millions of us ready to take the field with her" if she runs. (Distant second to Obama in 2008 primary.)

Foreign travel: Do birds fly? Former secretary of state doesn't need to globe-trot any time soon. Spent 401 days overseas, flying nearly 1 million miles. Limited overseas travel in 2013: honorary degree at St. Andrews University in Scotland in September; trip to London in October for a diplomacy award and a fundraising concert for the family's foundation. Attended memorial services for Nelson Mandela in South Africa in December. Two recent speeches in Canada. Traveled to England for daughter Chelsea's Oxford graduation in May.

Meet the money: Can tap deep well of Democratic and activist money. Former President Bill Clinton's vigorous fundraising for Democratic candidates further expands that potential source of donors for her. She's been raising money for Clinton foundation. The super PAC Ready for Hillary has raised nearly $6 million since its founding last year to support a candidacy. Priorities USA said in January it will back Clinton if she runs, signaling support from senior members of President Barack Obama's campaign team. Prominent bundlers such as Hollywood moguls Jeffrey Katzenberg and Haim Saban have indicated their support. Clinton worked fundraising circuit to help Terry McAuliffe's campaign for governor in Virginia and Bill de Blasio's mayoral bid in New York City. Both won.

Networking: In May, attended her first political event of the year, a fundraiser for Marjorie Margolies, mother-in-law of Chelsea Clinton, in her Democratic congressional primary; Margolies lost. A steady presence now on the speaking circuit, delivering paid speeches to industry groups and conferences and appearing before college crowds and groups with ties to the Democratic coalition. Accepted lifetime achievement award from American Jewish Congress in March. Crossed paths again with potential GOP rival Jeb Bush at education event in Texas in March, six months after he awarded her the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia in his capacity as chairman of the National Constitution Center.

Hog the TV: Not since stepping down as secretary of state but that's probably about to change. Opens book launch with prime-time ABC interview, and she'll be promoting the book — and herself — in weeks to follow. Showed up for Barbara Walters' last taping of "The View" in May. Late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel interviewed her at Arizona State University in March. Sat down with Walters, who named her the "Most Fascinating Person of 2013" in December. Appeared jointly with Obama on CBS's "60 Minutes" early in 2013. NBC dropped a planned miniseries about her under pressure both from her allies and from Republicans.

Do something: For now, a record to be judged as secretary of state, senator and first lady. Through the Clinton foundation, has launched an initiative to help children's health and a separate partnership to promote women and girls.

Take a stand: In May speech to mental health conference, challenged a "way out of balance" gun culture and the expectation that "anybody can have a gun anywhere, anytime," injecting herself into a more contentious subject than previous post-Cabinet speeches on the economy, housing and opportunities for women. Obama objected to her proposed individual mandate for health insurance in 2008 only to adopt it in office. After Russia sent troops to Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, Clinton likened Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions to those of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s.

Baggage: Age, Benghazi and the politics of being a Clinton. She would be 69 on Inauguration Day in 2017, and Republicans are already raising questions — if not innuendo — about her health. GOP strategist Karl Rove suggested she may have suffered health problems more serious than acknowledged in her concussion and hospitalization in 2012, bringing rebukes from her husband and advisers. Deflection: Clinton laughed off Rove's comments and says she has no lingering effects from her "serious concussion." Republicans would love to pin blame on her for the 2012 deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. She does just fine politically, until she gets political. Then her old enemies come out of the woodwork. In long-confidential documents released from Bill Clinton's administration, advisers urged her to "be real" and "humanize" herself, revealing concerns about her authenticity as a public figure.

Shadow campaign: Keeping a traditional shadow campaign at arm's length for now, but she's got a steamroller behind her. Ready for Hillary super PAC has received endorsements from Democrats such as Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm; several old Clinton hands are advising the group, including Craig T. Smith and Harold Ickes. The group is encouraging Clinton to run and laying a foundation of grassroots supporters for a campaign if Clinton chooses to pursue one.

Social media: About 1.4 million followers on Twitter, her preferred social media outlet. Tweets photos of her posing with Republican Sen. John McCain, members of the Russian feminist protest group Pussy Riot, more. Tweets that grandmother-to-be is "my most exciting title yet!"