With Hillary Clinton giving few public appearances ahead of a possible presidential run, some Democrats are happy to take the next best thing.
Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is headlining a major Democratic event in South Carolina later this month on behalf of Ready for Hillary, the pro-Clinton super PAC. The South Carolina Democratic Party, which puts on the annual Blue Jamboree fundraiser, perhaps the biggest Democratic event in the state, reached out to Ready for Hillary to secure Granholm's appearance, according to a source familiar with the planning.
At the event, Granholm will deliver a $5,000 check from Ready for Hillary to the state party, bringing the super PAC’s total contributions to the federal maximum of $10,000. It cut a another $5,000 check to the state party in June. The group has donated to more than two dozen state party committees, including all of the early primary states.
It’s the first time a state party has asked Ready for Hillary for a surrogate at a high-profile event like this. And it’s all part of the super PAC's mission to build relationships and curry favor with local officials during the 2014 election cycle in lieu of Clinton herself, who has no political staff and is still technically a private citizen. (Clinton and the group cannot coordinate by law).
"Ready for Hillary is proud to support the efforts of the South Carolina Democratic Party in this year's election and beyond, and we will continue to channel the energy and organization around a potential Hillary 2016 candidacy to help SCDP and 2014 candidates,” Seth Bringman, the super PAC’s communications director, told msnbc.
The super PAC will also use its massive list to find supporters in South Carolina and encourage them to purchase tickets to the Jamboree, much as they are doing now ahead of Clinton’s appearance at an Iowa Democratic Party event earlier in September.
As with Iowa, Clinton’s struggles in South Carolina in 2008 will loom large if she decides to run again. Then-Sen. Barack Obama more than doubled Clinton’s vote share -- 55% to 26% -- after Bill Clinton made a series of comments that offended some African-Americans, who are the key Democratic voting base in the Southern state.
Martin O’Malley, the Democratic governor of Maryland who is also considering a presidential bid, announced last week that he’s sending four staffers from his leadership PAC to help Democrats in South Carolina during the midterms.
Ready for Hillary’s campaign-style bus also visited the state recently, making the rounds of South Carolina colleges in mid-August. “Students were drawn in by the Hillary Bus and the free Hillary posters, but we were then able to tell them about the critical elections taking place this year, and we'll continue that conversation between now and November 4 to make sure they vote and get involved," added Bringman, who was at all five stops. The bus will return to the state for the Jamboree and a Pride parade the week before.
Tickets for the Blue Jamboree, which will be held in North Charleston on September 27, start at $10 and go up to $250. The rest of the speakers announced so far are mostly local to South Carolina.