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The noncommittal 2016 frontrunner who never left

The former secretary of state had lunch with the president, breakfast with the vice president, and has a super PAC that raised $1 million in the last reporting period--2016 doesn't look so far away now.
/ Source: MSNBC TV

The former secretary of state had lunch with the president, breakfast with the vice president, and has a super PAC that raised $1 million in the last reporting period--2016 doesn't look so far away now.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the Women in Public Service Project leadership symposium, Tuesday, July 9, 2013, at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. (Photo by Matt Rourke/AP)

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton this week had lunch with the president, breakfast with the vice president, and has a super PAC that raised $1 million in the last reporting period—2016 doesn’t look so far away now.

“The grassroots enthusiasm of Americans in every corner of the country who want to see Hillary run for president has been overwhelming,” said Seth Bringman, communications director for the super PAC “Ready for Hillary,” which reported a $1 million fundraising haul to the FEC Wednesday, to

“With more than 9,700 donors behind our effort and a new supporter joining our effort every nine seconds, we are building a movement that will show Hillary the tremendous support she will have if she decides to run,” he said.

Clinton had a power lunch with President Barack Obama on the Oval Office patio on Monday, shared scrambled eggs with V.P. (and potential 2016 rival for the Democratic  nomination) Joe Biden Tuesday, and tried to stay out of the most talked-about political scandal of the year involving a former Congressman from her home state, who happens to the the husband of one of her most loyal aides.

But one thing that’s becoming increasingly hard to ignore in Hillaryland is the power of the super PAC “Ready for Hillary,” launched by a group of grassroots supporters last January. The super PAC has raised more than $1.25 million since organizers ramped up fundraising efforts this spring, Bringman said. Just months after forming, the super PAC now boasts a powerful roster of backers and bundlers, including Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, Democratic strategist James Carville, and top fundraisers from Clinton’s 2008 campaign.

According to Bringman, 75% of contributions to the super PAC totaled $25 or less. Lending an early hand to the pro-Clinton apparatus is 270 Strategies, a consulting firm whose leadership cut their chops on Obama’s 2012 re-election bid.

While Clinton is not involved in the group’s activities, the organization’s robust list of donors and supporters—which could be turned over to an official campaign apparatus in the future—would be an invaluable head start for a potential campaign.

Recent polling indicates that if Clinton were to throw her hat in the ring, she would be the overwhelming favorite among prospective Democratic candidates, including Biden and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.  In a head-to-head match-up, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the preferred Republican candidate in a McClatchy-Marist poll released last week, trails Clinton by six points.

While the momentum seems to be in Clinton’s favor, the former secretary of state has dealt with a number of unexpected headaches since leaving office, including a persistent attack from congressional Republicans who hold her accountable for the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi last September that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

More recently, Clinton has been peripherally linked to the imploding candidacy of New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. News that Weiner continued to send sexually explicit messages to women over social media after he resigned from Congress two years ago has cast him and his wife, loyal Clinton aide Huma Abedin, in the spotlight.

In response to reports that friends of the Clinton’s have pressured Weiner to step out of the race, Weiner told reporters at a Tuesday press conference that he has “enormous respect for the Clintons,” but continued to pledge to stay in the race. Public support for Weiner’s mayoral bid has plummeted and now stands at 16%, trailing three other Democratic candidates. Just a week ago, Weiner led the pack with 26%.

“I know that he believes he would be the best mayor for New York. But I think he has got to face reality. And in terms of the Clintons, I think they should stay out of it. In the long run, if Hillary Clinton becomes a candidate in 2016, no one is going to vote for or against her because of what Anthony Weiner did,” said Ed Rendell, former Demcoratic governor of Pennsylvania, to NBC Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell.

Politico reported Tuesday evening that Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin will be taking extended vacation time away from her job working with Clinton. Abdein herself has come under fire as the subject of scathing editorials since speaking in support of her husband at the July 24 press conference where he acknowledged sending lewd messages over social media after resigning from Congress. “It was clear she was operating from the Hillary playbook,” Newsweek wrote, “…[but] Abedin has stretched the Hillary mantle past the breaking point.”

Yet Clinton’s career trajectory from the office of the First Lady, where she emerged from her husband’s sex scandal to launch a successful bid for the U.S. Senate, then went on to confirm her status as a political powerhouse by traversing the globe as the nation’s top diplomat, is exactly the resume that supporters like House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi argued make her the ideal 2016 candidate.

“I think the country is ready for Hillary,” Pelosi told Mitchell in mid-July, invoking a choice phrase. Pelosi remained officially neutral during Clinton’s 2008 primary battle with Obama. “I certainly hope that she will choose to run. I think if she does, she will win. I think if and when she does, I think she’ll be the best prepared person to enter the White House in decades.”