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Hillary Clinton dips toe in 2014 midterms

The fundraiser for Marjorie Margolies marks Clinton’s first stumping event of the election cycle.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the American Jewish Committee Global Forum closing plenary in Washington, D.C., May 14, 2014.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the American Jewish Committee Global Forum closing plenary in Washington, D.C., May 14, 2014.

It pays to have Hillary Clinton in your extended family.

On Thursday evening, the former secretary of state and potential presidential candidate will headline a Manhattan fundraiser for daughter Chelsea's mother-in-law, Marjorie Margolies, who is trying to win back her old House seat representing the Philadelphia suburbs.

The fundraiser marks Clinton’s first stumping event of the election cycle. She has largely stayed away from political races, choosing instead to deliver paid speeches to industry groups and conferences, speaking on college campuses and giving remarks at events hosted by her family’s Clinton Foundation.

If Clinton is planning on fundraising on behalf of other candidates for the 2014 midterms, no dates have been made public. Josh Schwerin, national press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats in the House, told msnbc: “As soon as Secretary Clinton is ready, we would love to have her campaign for Democrats in any district in the country.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the DCCC’s counterpart for the upper chamber of Congress, declined to comment on Clinton’s participation. Requests for comment from Team Clinton were not immediately returned.

The former first lady’s decision to largely stay out of the races (except for campaigning for friend Terry McAuliffe’s successful Virginia gubernatorial bid last year) makes sense, says Democratic strategist Maria Cardona.

To put simply, “it’s family,” said Cardona on Clinton’s decision to fundraise for Margolies. “Hillary is someone who has the luxury right now on making decisions on who she wants to support and if she wants to get into the political fray with the clear understanding that every step she takes will be look at under a microscope” in regards to 2016.

The fundraiser for Margolies will be held at 5:30 p.m. – five days before the Democratic primary -- in the home of Lynn Forester de Rothschild, who runs a private investment firm. Attendees will reportedly fork over $1,000 to $5,000 for a ticket. Forester, who has fundraised for Clinton in the past, has been an outspoken critic of President Obama. After Clinton lost to Obama in the 2008 primary, she endorsed GOP Sen. John McCain.

Margolies told msnbc that she would not be in attendance at the Big Apple fundraiser because she has another dinner to attend. Clinton, Margolies recounted, told her: “Go to the dinner and we will handle this.” The candidate said she was “very appreciative” that Clinton agreed to headline the event even though she hasn’t been on the campaign circuit. Margolies’ son, Marc Mezvinsky, and Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, announced last month that they are expecting a baby. 

Margolies, who served in Congress from 1993-1995, is in a four-way primary for the blue House seat that’s being vacated by  Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who is running for governor. Margolies, who enjoyed an early lead in the race, is now in a heated battle with state Rep. Brendan Boyle.  

Bill Clinton is also rushing to stump for Margolies. The former president stars in a new TV advertisement, released Wednesday, in which he declares: “If you send Marjorie to Congress, she’ll make you proud, she’ll vote right.” Margolies was defeated in a bruising midterm election for Democrats in 1994, as a result of casting the deciding vote for then-President Clinton’s 1993 budget.

“He’s so articulate and he’s such a rock star,” said Margolies of the former president. “I can’t imagine [the ad] will be anything but helpful…[the Clintons] have been lovely.” The Clintons were in New York earlier in the day -- alongside the Obamas, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and former New York City mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani -- for the ceremonial dedication of the 9/11 Museum and Memorial.

While Hillary Clinton insists she is only “thinking” about running for the nation’s highest office, both her and her husband this week shot back at Republican critics over the former senator’s health and record during her time as secretary of state – fueling speculation they are trying to tamp down potential 2016 criticism from the get go.

Polls continually show Clinton is the clear frontrunner to be the party’s standard bearer in 2016. The Republican field is far less certain. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll shows five potential candidates within four percentage points of one another. That includes former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul each with 14% support followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (13%), Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (11%) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (10%).

And in a hypothetical Bush versus Clinton matchup, Clinton would beat Bush 53% to 41%, according to the survey.