Women and Faith Groups Believe in a President Hillary Clinton

Without encouragement, faith and women groups have rallied around the idea of a President Hillary Clinton

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Jacquelyn Martin / Reuters

Hillary Clinton is silhouetted by a stage light as she speaks at the University of the Western Cape about the U.S.-South Africa partnership, in Cape Town August 8, 2012.

The shadow campaign to elect former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received a major boost Thursday as Emily’s List, the group dedicated to boosting women candidates, launched a campaign to elect a female President in 2016.

While not explicitly backing Clinton’s potential candidacy yet, the group endorsed her in January 2007 just hours after she announced she was exploring a run for the White House and founder Ellen Malcolm served as campaign co-chair.

Emily’s List president Stephanie Schriock said at a press conference that the group is “hopeful” Clinton runs. “I have to say there is one name that seems to be getting mentioned more than others,” she said. “We do not know if Hillary is going to run, but we are hopeful that she may.”

The announcement came hours after the release of a nationwide poll from Quinnipiac University showing Clinton with a massive 52-point lead over her closest competitor, Vice President Joe Biden. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo garnered just 4%. No other candidate topped 1%.

By all accounts Clinton is still weighing whether to mount another run for the White House, but already key pieces are falling into place. Last month super-PAC Ready for Hillary launched its first events to build a grassroots army in waiting for her candidacy. The group, advised by former Clinton aides Harold Ickes and James Carville, commended the Emily’s List announcement just days after supporters rallied outside the Florida hotel where Clinton was delivering her second paid speech since leaving the Obama Administration. The group has racked up more than 138,000 Facebook Likes and nearly 59,000 Twitter followers, and is now beginning to fundraise.

Emily’s List has proved to be a potent fundraiser in recent years, raising more than $27 million for female candidates in the 2012 cycle. The #MPOTUS campaign includes digital ads and events in the early states of Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire.

Ready for Hillary is not the only group already organizing for a Clinton 2016 run. On April 7, Faith Voters for Hillary joined Twitter with the handle @Faith4Hillary. The first tweet? A quote from the former Secretary: “‘When you stumble, keep faith. When you’re knocked down, get right back up.’ – Hillary Clinton.” Now they have nearly 5700 followers, and the group has joined Facebook.

Rick Hendrix, 43, a Nashville music promoter who advised Clinton’s Faith Outreach Committee in her 2008 campaign, launched the Twitter feed that frequently tweets out quotes from Clinton about faith and ethics. Hendrix says it is an honor to start organizing people of faith for Clinton on social media. “We’ve found other networks for Hillary on Twitter and Facebook so we interface with them, retweeting and posting information from them that matters to faith voters for Hillary,” Hendrix says. “The power of the Internet, of social networking, still has to start with a good idea or cause or person. And, we have that in Hillary.”

Hendrix works closely — but informally — with democratic strategist Burns Strider, Clinton’s longtime faith adviser who organized her faith strategy in 2008. Strider also tweets and posts on the Faith Voters for Hillary accounts. “I love that guys down in Nashville took the initiative creating a place for faith voters supporting Hillary to band together showcasing their voices,” Strider says. “It’s about as viral and targeted as it gets. That will preach.”