Ready for Hillary: New Backers, High-Profile Endorsements Lend Legitimacy to Pro-Clinton Super PAC

PHOTO: Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the Vital Voices Global Awards ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington, April 2, 2013.

In a world of proliferating super PACs run by well-known Washington power players, this one might have been easily dismissed.

Its founders -- a 61-year-old former college professor and a 27-year-old former campaign aide -- seemed an unlikely pair to stir up grassroots support for 2016's most-talked-about potential presidential candidate.

But since its formation earlier this year and its official launch at the beginning of the month, the Ready for Hillary PAC has already had an impressive track record. The group, which calls itself "the nation's premier organization urging former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016 and laying the groundwork of support for her potential candidacy," has developed more than a whiff of legitimacy.

According to organizers, financial contributions -- more than 1,000 of them -- have been pouring in. Activists have gathered for boisterous pro-Hillary events outside two of the former secretary of state's recent speaking appearances (in Washington, D.C., and New York). And Ready for Hillary has built a slick website and a fast-growing social media presence.

Ready for Hillary has also amped up its credibility in a big way over the past two weeks with a series of high-profile endorsements from three prominent Clinton backers: Democratic strategist James Carville, long-time Clinton confidant Harold Ickes and former California congresswoman Ellen Tauscher.

"She needs to know -- and it's our goal to demonstrate to her and to the country -- that there's an army ready to help her candidacy," the group's communications director Seth Bringman said in an interview with ABC News.

What began as a quirky venture run by Bringman and a handful of Clinton fanatics, is suddenly looking a lot more serious. Organizers are assembling something of a shadow campaign-in-waiting, complete with an email list 150,000 supporters strong -- and growing. And although the super PAC would be legally barred from coordinating with Clinton's campaign if she decides to run, the group's success in cultivating a grassroots network, raising money and sparking genuine passion for her candidacy (a political ingredient that Barack Obama arguably had in greater supply in 2008) could send a powerful signal to potential challengers from both parties and to Clinton herself, who remains the group's most important target audience.

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Bringman said that the recent support from both Carville and Ickes was a "huge" boost for the organization.

"I'm not going to waste my time writing you about how great Hillary is or how formidable she'd be -- you know it all already," Carville wrote in a recent message sent to the group's email network. "But it isn't worth squat to have the fastest car at the racetrack if there ain't any gas in the tank -- and that's why the work that the Ready for Hillary PAC is doing is absolutely critical. We need to convert the hunger that's out there for Hillary's candidacy into a real grassroots organization."

Carville's note stressed one of the key reasons the small band of committed Hillary enthusiasts decided to form the group in the first place: Clinton had to cease her political organizing activities during her four years at the State Department.

"We owe it to Hillary to start putting the building blocks of her campaign together now," wrote Carville, who advised her 2008 presidential bid and served as a top strategist to Bill Clinton. "The modern political campaign demands it."

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