WASHINGTON — As Hillary Clinton privately weighs a second White House run, pieces of the Democratic establishment are beginning to fall into place publicly to help her possible candidacy.
Several super political action committees are collectively acting as an early de facto campaign organization to ensure Clinton is ready to compete vigorously if she decides to try again to become the first female president.
They're building a network without her direct consent. But she's not objecting either, and some Democrats are interpreting that as encouragement to push forward in anticipation of a campaign.
"There's a lot of energy out there and it would be a mistake not to channel and use it as an opportunity to organize," said Craig Smith, an adviser to Ready for Hillary.
Democrats say past campaigns have taught them that they need to organize and spend early to stay in power.
The super PAC American Bridge 21st Century has launched Correct the Record, a group staffed by former Clinton aides who intend to defend the former secretary of state and other potential 2016 candidates against Republican critics. Priorities USA Action, which ran searing ads against rivals of President Barack Obama to support his re-election, is discussing bringing onboard a former White House chief of staff under her husband.
Ready for Hillary, formed after the 2012 elections, is working to keep grass-roots supporters around the country energized. And EMILY's List, a group that has 3 million members and supports women candidates who back abortion rights, has been holding forums promoting the need to elect the America's first female president.
Democrats have highlighted polls showing Clinton would be an early favorite for the party's nomination if she ran again.
While this work goes on behind the scenes, Clinton has been staying in the public eye by traveling the country to speak before trade groups and to party supporters. She also plans to release a book next year about her time at the State Department, giving her a platform to tour the nation before the 2014 midterm elections.