The Largest Liberal Super PAC Just Formally Aligned Itself With Hillary Clinton

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 23 2014 10:55 AM

The Largest Liberal Super PAC Just Formally Aligned Itself With Hillary Clinton

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Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers remarks after being presented the 2013 Tom Lantos Human Rights Prize December 6, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

The will-she-or-won't-she narrative has moved one giant, big-dollar step closer to when-will-she. Here's the New York Times with the scoop from the land of Hillary Clinton's (as of yet) undeclared presidential ambitions:

The largest liberal "super PAC" in the country has begun raising money to elect Hillary Rodham Clinton president, formally aligning itself with Mrs. Clinton’s undeclared presidential ambitions more than two years away from the election. The group, Priorities USA Action, which played a pivotal role in helping re-elect President Obama, also named new directors to steer the organization, appointments that will both cement the group’s pro-Clinton tilt and thrust veterans of Mr. Obama’s political and fund-raising operation into the center of the post-Obama Democratic Party.
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Jim Messina, Obama's 2012 campaign manager, and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm will serve as co-chairs of the super PAC and its affiliated nonprofit arm. Granholm has been beating the Clinton '16 drum early and often. Messina, meanwhile, appears to be the big get here. With the announcement he becomes the most high-profile member of Obama's inner circle to openly back Clinton for president, and his new role will "only fuel perceptions that Mrs. Clinton’s potential candidacy has the tacit endorsement of Mr. Obama himself," as the Times' Nicholas Confessore puts it. (Despite the seeming inevitability of a Clinton White House bid, Messina and others are being careful to speak only in hypotheticals when it comes to the campaign. "Priorities is going to be there for her if she decides to run," he told the paper in an interview.)

As a super PAC, Priorities legally won't be able to coordinate its message with its candidate—although 2012 (and Stephen Colbert) showed that's largely an unenforceable technicality. There are other pro-Clinton groups already out there, of course, but none that can match the big-dollar potential of Priorities USA Action. While most of the others devote their energy rounding up small donors and building grass-roots support, Priorities spends its time convincing people to write six- or even seven-figure checks, making its formal alignment with Clinton a significant development in an election that's still more than two years away. Until—and even after—Hillary launches her bid, look for Priorities to do the heavy lifting when it comes to major ad buys both attacking potential challengers and defending her from conservative (and likely Benghazi-themed) attacks.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.