The Money Race Begins: Clinton Schedules First Fundraisers

Clinton is avoiding large settings on the trail — and in her fundraising. She will appear at “Hillstarter” events this month, likely in private homes, in New York in Washington.

Hillary Clinton is trying to keep her presidential campaign small, low-key, and home-grown: There will be no rallies, no massive crowds, no ropelines.

But she'll still need to raise money at a staggering rate.

Clinton will attend the first fundraisers of the campaign later this month.

The first swing will take place on April 28 in New York City, and the second on April 30 in Washington, D.C., according to an email that Dennis Cheng, the campaign's finance director, sent donors and fundraisers on Friday evening.

In the email, Cheng did not list the ticket price for the events.

A source familiar with the plans confirmed that Clinton would appear at the fundraisers — which will most likely take place at private homes. Democrats who have been advised of the campaign finance strategy have said that Clinton will avoid large, banquet-style fundraisers to start.

These events, the source said, are considered part of the lower-dollar "Hillstarter" program for Clinton's early fundraisers.

The finance team, led by Cheng, has offered designation as a Hillstarter to any supporter who finds 10 donors to give $2,700 — the most any one person can contribute toward the campaign's efforts in the primary. They may give another $2,700 for the general. But to start, Clinton will only collect primary dollars.

It's the approach Barack Obama took during the 2008 primary. Clinton, meanwhile, raised for the general as well, collecting money she was never able to use.

The Hillstarters program also heralds a more inviting fundraising style: Clinton's last campaign asked its "bundlers" to raise at higher levels. Fundraisers who collected more than $100,000 for Clinton were granted "Hillraiser" status.

The campaign will host weekly "Behind the Scenes" telephone briefings for Hillstarter members, according to the email from Cheng. Each call will introduce Clinton's fundraisers to a different member of the campaign staff. (Jennifer Palmieri and Kristina Schake, the communications director and deputy communications director, are scheduled to star on the first "Behind the Scenes" call.)

Clinton's finance strategy — the focus on primary dollars, along with a more inclusive start to fundraising efforts — is meant to mirror the campaign's wider approach. Last time she ran for president, Clinton was too inaccessible — and her operation was seen as overly confident. Now, the campaign has signaled at every turn that, as her aides often tell reporters, she is taking "nothing for granted."

Later on, Clinton will no doubt emphasize big-dollar fundraising.

She could have to raise as much as the $1.1 billion Obama needed during the last election — and without the advantages of incumbency.

The Republicans in the race are already raising at the highest levels.

Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, has had to push back on rumors of a $100 million goal for the first quarter of the year. And Ted Cruz, the U.S. senator from Texas, is dubbing bundlers who raise a total of $500,000 as "founders," $250,000 as "statesmen," $100,000 as "generals," and $50,000 as "federalists."

Next week, as Clinton travels to New Hampshire for the second trip of her campaign, the finance team will host a series of "strategy sessions" for Hillstarters.

The first four meetings will take place in Washington, Virginia, Maryland, and New York, as first reported in the New York Times. Cheng will attend, along with the campaign manager, Robby Mook, and campaign chairman, John Podesta.

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