Pro-Hillary Clinton Efforts Whir to Life with Iowa Campaigning

The PAC has injected some Obama organizational blood into Clinton land. It has hired a firm run by two former high-ranking Obama aides, Mitch Stewart and Jeremy Bird, who are already strategizing voter-registration and youth engagement strategies for Clinton in advance of 2016.

Hires like those are helping spread the word among Democrats that a Clinton campaign is a very real possibility – and a great destination for ambitious, talented operatives.

"She would have her absolute pick of the best talent in the country, were she to run," said Stewart, who ran the Obama 2012 battleground-state operation. "It's never too early to start."

Clinton insiders have encouraged big Democratic donors to get involved through the PAC. Twenty of President Obama's "bundlers" – his top campaign fundraisers – are among the 10,000-plus donors to Ready for Hillary, according to an ABC analysis of Federal Election Commission reports.

Some of those same donors are among the backers of the American Bridge PAC, which came to prominence last year with harsh ads opposing Mitt Romney. With the support of James Carville, the group recently launched its "Correct the Record" project, with an explicit promise to defend Clinton against GOP attacks.

If Clinton is uniting Democrats early, she's certainly uniting Republicans, even during a time of uncommon discord inside the GOP. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is capitalizing on those strong anti-Clinton sentiments with a warning that TV outlets that air Clinton documentaries won't have RNC cooperation in presidential debates that are still two-plus years away.

A new conservative group, America Rising, has already launched a Website, StopHillary2016.org, to raise money for efforts to publicize negative stories about her. The group, founded by former Romney campaign aides, is pushing out regular opposition research, on areas including her time as secretary of state and her family business ties.

"It's crucial that we begin now making the case against Hillary and building the infrastructure necessary to go head-to-head with the Clinton machine in 2016," said Tim Miller, executive director of America Rising PAC.

Even while pieces of a future Clinton operation are put in place, those involved in the efforts say they realize the potential pitfalls, particularly around building an aura of inevitability that would leave her primed for a takedown. They remember intimately, of course, how the strategy of lining up boldfaced Democratic names worked out in 2008, and say they are intent on learning from their mistakes.

Craig T. Smith, a former Clinton White House aide whose association with the Clintons dates back to the state house in Arkansas, said the focus is on building pieces that a future campaign can build on. A full-fledged operation is not the goal for the intermediate future, he said.

"We're not buying TV ads. We're not doing policy development. We're not setting up offices across the country," said Smith, who is advising the Ready for Hillary PAC. "That's not what we do. We're about building a list."

For all the positive Clinton buzz, if members of either party forgot the drama that often surrounds the Clintons, this year's two hottest political contests are serving as regular reminders.

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