The leading super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton's possible run for president in 2016 is rallying its members behind the Affordable Care Act — a move that reflects the group's recent expanding focus, from the candidate-in-waiting to the political initiatives and candidates she supports.
Ready for Hillary asked its growing list of supporters late last week to "spread the word" about the insurance marketplaces that opened at the start of the month, and condemned the federal government shutdown that went into effect last week as a result of differences over President Obama's landmark legislation.
Mark Alexander, who served as a policy director on Obama's 2008 campaign, penned the email, announcing his support for the PAC and urging Clinton fans to "get signed up." In the note, Alexander cited the former secretary of state's support for the law: "Hillary has fought hard for health insurance reform throughout her career," he wrote. "Last week, she called Obamacare 'a very important step forward on behalf of our country.'"
Alexander's involvement in Ready for Hillary, where he is poised to continue to focus on the legislation, comes on the heels of other efforts by the group to bolster support for Obamacare. Throughout the last month, Ready for Hillary has promoted the bill on Facebook, where the PAC has 1 million followers, and late last month, it asked supporters to sign an online petition to "stand with Hillary in protecting Obamacare."
Ready for Hillary was founded last January with one main mission — to build grassroots support for Clinton's potential bid for president in 2016 — but has expanded its reach considerably in the eight months since it registered with the Federal Election Committee.
"Here's how we see it," said Seth Bringman, the group's communications director. "It's 2013 and we're mobilizing a grassroots army to encourage Hillary to run in 2016. There are also big priorities for our party and our country right now, like elections in 2013 and 2014, and issues like Obamacare and the Voting Rights Act," he said, noting Clinton herself has spoken out in recent weeks on both issues.
In a speech at Yale Law School last Sunday, Clinton invoked what she called the "human costs of political brinksmanship and gridlock in Washington," echoing remarks she made about Obamacare to an audience at the Clinton Global Initiative conference last month. "I find the debate over this issue to be quite unfortunate," she said at the New York meeting. "A law was passed. It was upheld by the Supreme Court. It is the law of the land."
Ready for Hillary is building a massive list of supporters online, primarily through social media websites, and has also amassed public support from big-name Clinton confidants like James Carville, Harold Ickes, and Susie Tompkins Buell. But with months until Clinton makes up her mind about a presidential bid — and years until the actual election — the PAC has looked for other ways to keep its supporters engaged in the interim, expanding the traditional role of most draft-movement groups.
Last month, the PAC also announced it would look for ways to weigh in on the 2014 midterm elections — but only in support of candidates Clinton endorses. The group told The Hill they would start with Terry McAuliffe, a longtime close friend of the Clintons and the Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia.
Although the group doesn't have "concrete" plans for further action on the Affordable Care Act in the coming weeks, aides say they'll continue to look for opportunities to "amplify issues that Hillary and President Clinton are out there talking about."
"Our supporters care deeply about these priorities in addition to wanting Hillary to run in 2016, so we want to give them opportunities to get engaged," Bringman said. "When it comes to Obamacare, we are making sure our supporters know that the marketplaces opened this week, encouraging them to sign up if they aren't covered, and asking them to spread the word."