The "Clinton for President" campaign has not been officially launched, but it is running full-tilt nonetheless. When she ran for the open New York Senate seat in 2000, Hillary Rodham Clinton repeatedly pledged that she was not using the race as a stepping stone for a 2004 White House run. She promised to finish her six-year Senate term, meaning 2008 would be the closest presidential race she would consider. She has repeated this promise in numerous interviews. However, Federal Election Commission records show that as early as 2000, even as she was campaigning for the Senate seat, she had already filed an FEC re port as a presidential candidate. (Her FEC identification number is P00003392.)
Since then she has launched her own political action committee, HILLPAC, and Friends of Hillary, her Senate re-election committee. Both organizations are raising tons of cash, and Hillary watchers--both friend and foe--note that she is using the money to buy key party votes as she stumps the country for Democrat candidates. Much of her cash and campaign "face time" have been lavished on candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire, the two early presidential primary states that are essential showcase events for any serious candidate. HILLPAC has showered tens of thousands of dollars on candidates in tight races in the two states, including Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.
The conventional wisdom has been that Hillary will bide her time until the 2008 elections, since President Bush is a shoo-in for re-election. But the president's ratings have been crumbling, as the economy has been tumbling, and the ever-expanding War on Terror has left more and more taxpayers and soldiers grumbling. Deja vu. Hillary certainly remembers a similar situation with the elder President Bush and Desert Storm. With Bush's post-war ratings phenomenally high, Democratic candidates jumped out of the 1992 race believing him invulnerable. But President Bush's positives evaporated almost overnight, leaving Bill Clinton as the only alternative. Hillary remembers. She is also aware that polls of Democratic voters show her beating all other candidates the Democrats can muster. Syndicated columnist Richard Reeves pointed out in an August 27th column: "Democratic polls right now show [Sen. John] Kerry, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, former House majority leader Richard Gephardt and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean as the Democratic leaders, each of them with 15 or 20 percent of the Democratic vote nationally. Throw Hillary's name into those polls and she gets between 37 percent of the vote (ABC News poll) and 48 percent (Quinnipac institute). Kerry and the rest drop to single digits."
"Sen. Clinton has to check some numbers," notes Reeves. "If a Democrat, say Kerry, defeats Bush next November and then runs for re-election in 2008, then her next chance to run would probably be in 2012, when she will be 65 years old. And who knows what the world will look like then?"
Hillary's campaign has already been boosted with free media promotionals that no candidate could ever buy. The publication of her autobiography, Living History, launched an orgy of adulatory interviews, stories, and photo-ops. …