‘Ready for Hillary’: Clinton allies launch black outreach program

Supporters of Hillary Clinton, including Seton Hall Professor Mark Alexander, who was one of President Obama’s top aides during the 2008 presidential campaign, are launching a program to encourage African-American voters to become formal supporters of Clinton, the latest move by the backers of the former first lady both to make sure she runs for president and start preparing for a 2016 campaign.

Alexander, along with former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin, announced this effort on Monday, as part of their work for “Ready for Hillary,” a national super-PAC that is trying to build support for Clinton. Modeled on Obama’s campaign tactics, Clinton allies over the next year will visit barbershops, beauty shops and other venues where lots of black voters congregate. They are looking to get people to either sign up online, donate money or make a commitment to backing Clinton in 2016.

“Ready for Hillary” hopes these moves both illustrate to Clinton that she people truly want her to run for president and give her an early start in trying to match the strong support Obama had in the black community, which helped him win in key states like Ohio.

“It really is an effort to remind Hillary Clinton of the vast support she has,” among blacks, Alexander said in a conference call.

This step by Alexander and others comes as a number of other African-Americans have also signaled their embrace of Clinton. Black congressman like Donna Edwards and Elijah Cummings, two key Obama supporters in 2008, have said Clinton is the party’s strongest potential candidate. The tension between the Clintons and some African-American leaders back has subsided: Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who in 2008 suggested Bill Clinton was belittling Obama, has also praised Hillary Clinton recently.

Hillary Clinton, while not declaring her candidacy, has taken steps to make sure her relationships with key black leaders are strong in case she does run. Last summer, she delivered a speech attacking GOP-backed voting laws that won praise from Clyburn and others.