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