Are Jew Ready for Hillary?

Ready for Hillary super PAC, which raised some $6 million since it was started in January 2013, kicks off Jewish appeal.

AP

NEW YORK — On the eve of Shavuot Tuesday, as the Jewish people geared up to celebrate receiving the Torah, the super PAC that hopes to celebrate a second Clinton president in the White House kicked off an effort to rally support by launching Jewish Americans Ready for Hillary.

On the Ready for Hillary website, where Clinton fans can buy dog leashes, water bottles and tote bags emblazoned with the political action committee’s logo, the Jewish Americans Ready for Hillary subgroup joins others targeting Pacific Islanders, Latinos and veterans of the military, among others.

The super PAC has raised $6 million from some 55,000 grassroots donors since it was started in January 2013, says Rachel Schneider, director of the Jewish Americans and Young Americans constituency affinity groups. “We’ve had a really positive response” to the new campaign, she told Haaretz.

With the new effort, “we hope to raise a lot of money,” said Steve Rabinowitz, a veteran political campaign press liaison and aide to Bill Clinton during his first run for the White House, in 1992, in an interview with Haaretz.

Rabinowitz is one of three organizers of the new appeal. The others are Marc Stanley, a Dallas trial lawyer and previous chair of the National Jewish Democratic Council, and Fran Katz Watson, a Democratic campaign fund-raiser and former finance director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “This effort isn’t only about money,” she said in a statement. “But it certainly includes money. We want your names, we want your time, we want your enthusiasm, but we also want a little of your money,” whether $20.16 or the $25,000 maximum contribution allowed by Ready for Hillary, she wrote.

Clinton has not indicated definitively that she is running, and primary season won’t kick off until January 2016. But the former first lady and secretary of state is the undisputed frontrunner. A CNN/ORC poll conducted in March showed Clinton winning support from 64 percent of Democratic respondents. Vice President Joe Biden trailed a distant second, with 13 percent of respondents saying they would vote for him.

The poll also found that Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Paul Ryan were nearly tied for first among Republican respondents, with support from 16 percent and 15 percent respectively.

Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, dismissed the Ready for Hillary announcement as coming earlier than needed. The RJC’s “focus right now is on 2014. Any discussion or focus on 2016, while fascinating to the media, is very, very premature. It’s all inside baseball, and bored consultants and reporters who engage in this now,” he told Haaretz in an email, adding, there will be “plenty of time to discuss 2016 in the coming years.”

A majority of Jews who cast ballots in the 2008 Democratic primary voted for Clinton, according to a CBS News exit poll then, which reported she won 54 percent of their votes, compared to 43 percent who went with President Barack Obama.

Super PACs are not allowed to have contact directly with candidates or their senior staff, according to the Federal Elections Committee, the Ready for Hillary PAC doesn’t have any inside intelligence on whether she plans to run or not.

“Our speculation is little different than yours,” Rabinowitz told Haaretz. “This is an effort to try to persuade her and be ready in the hope that she does.”