The Magazine

Ready or Not . . .

Here she comes.

Jun 2, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 36 • By DANIEL HALPER
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If you’re one of the more than 132,000 Twitter followers of the Ready for Hillary super-PAC, or one of the more than one million supporters on the group’s email list, you’re probably aware of two things: Hillary Clinton has a new book coming out June 10, and the super-PAC held house parties last weekend to harness support for a Hillary run for president.

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Hillary’s book, Hard Choices, is reportedly a pre-presidential-campaign memoir of her State Department years. “President Obama and I knew we had a hard choice: Keep reading from the same playbook—politically safe but practically unsustainable—or tear up the old playbook and devise a new strategy,” Hillary recently explained. It’s widely expected to be her 656-page blueprint for how the voters should view her time in the Obama cabinet.

That’s also apparently how the super-PAC sees the book—a campaign document. It sent out an excerpt to its large email list, with links making it easy to buy the book.

But Saturday, the super-PAC took a break from book promotion to have a couple of cold ones.

“Your neighbors are getting together to talk about the movement we’re building for a Hillary Clinton presidency, and you should join them,” executive director Adam Parkhomenko wrote in an email to me and a million others. “Saturday is going to be so great.”

It was an invitation I couldn’t turn down.

THE house party I attended, just outside the Beltway in Herndon, Virginia, was held at the modest home of a federal employee named Holly. I was the first to arrive, just after 6 p.m.  

Holly immediately apologizes. A number of her friends have had to bail at the last minute, she says. She’s unsure we’ll reach critical mass and is slightly embarrassed.

That’s no problem, I respond. I explain that I found the party on the Internet, after receiving several invitations from Ready for Hillary.

She graciously welcomes me, a complete stranger, into her home and her backyard, where a sizable spread is set up on one side of the small swimming pool. A half-dozen bottles of wine and a couple dozen beers and soft drinks are stationed on the other side.

Holly, who’s barely under 60 and appears to live alone, explains that the point of the party, as she learned from the two-hour training session for hosts, is to gather names, addresses, and emails of supporters. Ready for Hillary wants to sell the data to the Hillary for President campaign, Holly says. (Why they can’t just give it to the campaign, Holly wonders out loud. She isn’t sure.)

The second guest comes at 6:15. She’s the host’s former next-door neighbor, who just lost her home to foreclosure. As Holly explains, she bought at the wrong time and got caught between a rising interest rate and a stagnant salary. It’s a tough economy. 

Eventually four others show up: a long-retired couple who used to work for the federal government and a middle-aged woman, who all go to church with Holly, and Hunter, a 25-year-old who flunked out of college, spent years delivering pizzas, and has now found his calling at the Maine Maritime Academy. He ships out for his internship on a tugboat in a couple days and admits he has no idea why we’re gathering—he just wanted to see Holly, who, he says, practically raised him (she dated his father). I explain it’s a rally for the Ready for Hillary super-PAC. He shrugs and heads over to grab a cold Corona. 

If all this sounds like small ball, the Ready for Hillary team is tweeting out pictures of other, grander parties inside the Beltway. The D.C. Latinas looks like a packed house. 

And, more important, it’s part of a much larger effort to convince undecided Democrats that this time their candidate is really, truly the Inevitable One. While it was started by a few unknown wannabe politicos, these days Ready for Hillary claims to have raised over $5.75 million from more than 55,000 donors and is backed by heavyweights. Former Clinton and Obama aide Rahm Emanuel, now mayor of Chicago, is on board. He’ll do a fundraiser next month. Virginia senator Tim Kaine, an early backer of Obama, supports the cause. 

One early sign-on was Craig Smith, who “is something of an adopted son” of Bill and Hillary Clinton, according to Time magazine. “He worked for the pair in Arkansas, was the very first hire for Bill’s 1992 presidential run, followed them to the White House and then advised both the 1996 and 2008 campaigns.”

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