Hillary Clinton said she put millions of cracks in the glass ceiling with her 2008 bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination. The women's group Emily's List launched a "Madam President" campaign Thursday to make sure that glass ceiling is shattered in 2016, regardless of whether Clinton runs or not.
The presidential primaries won't get fully underway for more than a year, but Emily's List, which is known for backing female Democratic candidates that support abortion rights, said they will get an early start and head to the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire. They plan to hold town halls to engage voters there to get ready for a woman on the campaign trail and the Oval Office, as well as using the energy and resources of their two million members. They are also launching a six-figure digital buy to reach women online.
Is the launch just to prepare for Hilary Clinton's eventual entry into the race?
Emily's List president Stephanie Schriock acknowledged the elephant in the room almost immediately: "I have to say there is one name that seems to be getting mentioned more than others. We do not know if Hillary is going to run, but we are hopeful that she may."
In a video titled "MPOTUS," which shows a string of young girls practicing their acceptance speech for when they become President of the United States, there is subtle nod to Clinton at the very end. A woman takes a vow of the presidency and while the woman's back is to the viewer, she looks very familiar. However, at the event Schriock made it clear they do have more than a backup plan, saying if Clinton chooses not to run their "options are far from exhausted" and they have a "deep bench of strong women candidates."
Schriock said Clinton would be in an "incredible position" if she jumps into the race.
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Emily's List rolled out their own polling at the event that showed the country is ready for a woman president no matter the candidate, but it comes on the same day as a Quinnipiac University survey that showed 65 percent of Democrats and independents who lean toward the party would back Clinton if the primary were held today. They did not list other women, but Vice President Joe Biden came in a distance second at 13 percent.
If not Hillary, who?
Schriock named some names of other possible woman candidates, like Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius , Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. , and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY.
She wouldn't say if the group is actively trying to recruit anyone.
"I will not talk about the conversations I have had or not had with women who are thinking about or not thinking about running," she told reporters with a smile.
"At this moment we are standing at the edge of history. This is a tipping point, a moment of great change," Schriock said. "Countless Americans are ready to elect a woman to our country's highest office. We will reach out to them through every channel we have and enlist them in this push for a woman in the White House."
"What we want to do as an organization is continuing to build this out because for us it's not about one particular candidate, it's about this larger national discussion to engage women across the country on how important it is to do this," Schriock said.
She made it clear they would continue to focus almost exclusively on Democratic women candidates, not Independents or Republicans, but acknowledged they "see the importance of more women running for office across the board," noting that all 20 women senators voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act while 22 Republican men in the senate did not.
The "Madam President rollout event turned personal at one point when Schriock herself was asked if she is considering entering the Montana Senate race. She left the door open saying she has "been overwhelmed by the interest in this Senate race."
"I will say this: Montana has a great history of electing women,' Schriock said. "Emily's List has been involved a long time in Montana. And I think like you, I am waiting to see how this all plays out."
The seat will be open because Sen. Max Baucus (MT-D) announced last month he would retire after the 2014 midterm election.