Out­side po­lit­i­cal groups co­a­lesc­ing around Clin­ton

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY KEN THOMAS — Craig Smith, an ad­viser to Ready for Hil­lary

As Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton pri­vately weighs a sec­ond White House run, pieces of the Demo­cratic es­tab­lish­ment are be­gin­ning to fall into place pub­licly to help her pos­si­ble can­di­dacy.

Sev­eral po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees are col­lec­tively act­ing as an early de facto cam­paign or­ga­ni­za­tion to en­sure Mrs. Clin­ton is ready to com­pete vig­or­ously if she de­cides to try again to be­come the first fe­male pres­i­dent.

They’re build­ing a net­work with­out her di­rect con­sent. But she’s not ob­ject­ing ei­ther, and some Democrats are in­ter­pret­ing that as en­cour­age­ment to push for­ward in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a cam­paign.

“There’s a lot of en­ergy out there and it would be a mis­take not to chan­nel and use it as an op­por­tu­nity to or­ga­nize,” said Craig Smith, an ad­viser to Ready for Hil­lary.

The su­per PAC Amer­i­can Bridge 21st Cen­tury has launched Cor­rect the Record, a group staffed by for­mer Clin­ton aides who in­tend to de­fend the for­mer sec­re­tary of state and other po­ten­tial 2016 can­di­dates against Repub­li­can crit­ics. Pri­or­i­ties USA Ac­tion, which ran sear­ing ads against ri­vals of Pres­i­dent Obama to sup­port his re-elec­tion, is dis­cussing bring­ing on­board a for­mer White House chief of staff for Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton.

Ready for Hil­lary, formed af­ter the 2012 elec­tions, is work­ing to keep grass-roots sup­port­ers around the coun­try en­er­gized. And EMILY’s List, a group that has 3 mil­lion mem­bers and supports women can­di­dates who back abor­tion rights, has been hold­ing fo­rums pro­mot­ing the need to elect the Amer­ica’s first fe­male pres­i­dent.

Democrats have high­lighted polls show­ing that Mrs. Clin­ton would be an early fa­vorite for the party’s nom­i­na­tion if she sought the White House again.

While this work goes on be­hind the scenes, Mrs. Clin­ton has been stay­ing in the pub­lic eye by trav­el­ing the coun­try to speak be­fore trade groups and to party sup­port­ers. She also plans to re­lease a book next year about her time at the State Depart­ment, giv­ing her a plat­form to tour the na­tion be­fore the 2014 midterm elec­tions.

On Tues­day, Amer­i­can Bridge and the lib­eral-lean­ing Me­dia Mat­ters plan to hold a day­long con­fer­ence on in San Fran­cisco, where about 80 prospec­tive donors and fi­nan­cial back­ers will hear from Mr. Smith, for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore and Demo­cratic strate­gists James Carville and Paul Be­gala, long­time ad­vis­ers to Mr. Clin­ton.

Ready for Hil­lary, mean­while, held a strat­egy ses­sion last week in New York and has been build­ing a net­work of ac­tivists who want to help with an even­tual Clin­ton cam­paign. About 600,000 peo­ple have signed its pe­ti­tion urg­ing her to run, and more than 25,000 have given money — most in sym­bolic do­na­tions of $20.16. The group re­cently ac­quired a 50-state voter data­base to help it fur­ther build its net­work — and per­suade Mrs. Clin­ton to run.

Since leav­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, the for­mer first lady has lim­ited her po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity to the suc­cess­ful cam­paigns of two long­time al­lies — Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe in Vir­ginia and New York Mayor-elect Bill de Bla­sio. She also has head­lined sev­eral fundrais­ers for her fam­ily’s foun­da­tion and re­cently sat next to Hol­ly­wood film pro­ducer Jef­frey Katzen­berg, a top donor to Pri­or­i­ties USA, dur­ing a Los An­ge­les char­ity event.

Not ev­ery­one is cheer­ing her on. Repub­li­cans say the out­side groups are cast­ing Mrs. Clin­ton as in­evitable, and they pre­dict that will back­fire if she runs.

“Hil­lary’s al­lies tried this ex­act play­book eight years ago and it didn’t work,” said Tim Miller, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Amer­ica Ris­ing PAC, which has been crit­i­cal of Mrs. Clin­ton’s han­dling of the fatal at­tack on the U.S. diplo­matic mis­sion in Beng­hazi, Libya.

Say­ing it was re­spond­ing to an or­der from the courts, the Nu­clear Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion said Mon­day it has re­sumed staff work on the fea­si­bil­ity of the longstalled Yucca Moun­tain nu­clear waste re­pos­i­tory in Ne­vada, de­spite the fierce op­po­si­tion of Se­nate Demo­cratic leader Harry Reid and Pres­i­dent Obama to the Yucca site.

The site, lo­cated about 90 miles north­west of Las Ve­gas, was pro­posed as the cen­tral site to dis­pose of the na­tion’s nu­clear waste stock­piles, but has been long been blocked by Mr. Reid, the se­nior se­na­tor from Ne­vada, and politi­cians and state of­fi­cials of both par­ties from the Sil­ver State.

But a re­cent U.S. Court of Ap­peals rul­ing sided with ad­vo­cates for the plan, and or­dered the agency to re­sume its safety eval­u­a­tions and other tests that would pre­cede con­struc­tion of a waste re­pos­i­tory.

“The com­mis­sion reached this de­ci­sion af­ter ob­tain­ing views from nu­mer­ous par­ties in­volved in the li­cens­ing process as to how it should pro­ceed,” NRC spokesman Dave McIn­tyre said in a depart­ment blog post Mon­day.

The NRC has also re­quested that the En­ergy Depart­ment com­plete an en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact state­ment for the pro­posed site.

As of Sept. 30, NRC had set aside $11 mil­lion for re­views of the site, agency doc­u­ments show, but lit­tle work had been done for the past three years.

Mr. Reid has long been an critic of the plan, and a state­ment on his web­site called the idea “flawed.”

“The pro­posal to dump nu­clear waste at Yucca Moun­tain threat­ened the health and safety of Ne­vadans and peo­ple across our na­tion,” the state­ment said. “Yucca Moun­tain, which is 90 miles north­west of Las Ve­gas, is sim­ply not a safe or se­cure site to store nu­clear waste for any pe­riod of time.”

His op­po­si­tion have been backed up by Pres­i­dent Obama with a sug­ges­tion that other al­ter­na­tives might be bet­ter for stor­ing the waste.

The NRC move comes just days af­ter U.S. Depart­ment of En­ergy of­fi­cials in­formed Ne­vada res­i­dents of plans to truck ra­dioac­tive ma­te­rial from a World War II-era plant in Ten­nessee to the state for burial. The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported last week that depart­ment of­fi­cials told res­i­dents at a town hall meet­ing Wed­nes­day in Las Ve­gas that the state doesn’t have au­thor­ity to pre­vent ship­ments of ura­nium waste from Oak Ridge, Tenn., to the Ne­vada Na­tional Se­cu­rity Site north of Las Ve­gas.

Ne­vada Gov. Brian San­doval, who protested the waste trans­port and burial plan when it be­came pub­lic last sum­mer, is­sued a state­ment Thurs­day call­ing it pre­ma­ture to say whether the state will seek a fed­eral court or­der to block the ship­ments, ac­cord­ing to the AP re­port.

A truck was loaded at Oak Ridge in June, and of­fi­cials told res­i­dents in Las Ve­gas they want to be­gin ship­ments un­der armed guard in Jan­uary, be­fore the trip cer­ti­fi­ca­tion ex­pires. Up to 100 ship­ments would fol­low be­fore 2017. Ship­ping times and routes would be kept se­cret. The de­lay is cost­ing $2.5 mil­lion a month, depart­ment spokes­woman Aoife McCarthy told the news agency.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sev­eral po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees are col­lec­tively act­ing as an early de facto cam­paign or­ga­ni­za­tion to en­sure that for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton is ready to com­pete vig­or­ously if she de­cides to try again to be­come the first fe­male pres­i­dent.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid, Ne­vada Demo­crat, has op­posed us­ing the Yucca Moun­tains in his home state for the stor­age of nu­clear waste.

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