Let me ask you something. Are you ready for Hillary? I mean, really ready?
A lot of people are ready. The exact number is considered proprietary information, but the folks at Ready for Hillary, the super PAC formed to urge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president, assure me it is very large. Ready for Hillary has 1.2 million Facebook fans, its communications director, Seth Bringman, points out.
Ready for Hillary has a communications director. It has a digital director. It has a national finance council, a Young Americans director, an LGBT Americans director, a Black Americans director, a Women’s Office director and a Latino director.
“We’re not creating the support for her. The support for her is out there,” Bringman tells me. “We’re harnessing it.”
Bringman is shouting slightly to be heard over the music at the K Street lounge that Ready for Hillary has rented for its D.C.-area launch. The place is packed. Tickets are $20.16. The venue's modern decor features a mural of a pair of gigantic, thick-lashed blue eyes overhanging the entrance. Hillary is not here, but it is as if she is watching over us.
Actually, Hillary is here. There is a life-sized cardboard cutout of Hillary Clinton, wearing a black pantsuit and a slightly surprised expression. People are lining up behind a velvet rope to get their picture with the cutout, which has developed a fold in the torso and no longer stands up on its own. Hillary needs our support, or she will literally fall over.
“She’s tired,” says the photographer who is snapping people’s pictures with Cardboard Hillary. “She’s done a lot of events for us.” The photographer is wearing a Ready for Hillary STAFF badge on a Ready for Hillary lanyard. Ready for Hillary has a staffer whose job it is to take people’s pictures with Fake Hillary Clinton.
Ready for Hillary has three specialty cocktails available at tonight’s cash bar: the Readytini; the Ceiling Breaker (“Oh, I get it!” a long-haired young woman says to her friend as they wait in the five-deep line for service); and sangria.
Ready for Hillary has a hashtag. It has two, actually, and they are flashing on screens above the bar: #DMVisREADY and #Hillary2016.
Ready for Hillary has buttons and iPhone 5 cases for sale. The buttons say, “I’m Ready for Hillary.” The iPhone cases feature the iconic photo of Clinton wearing sunglasses and looking at her BlackBerry.
“People feel more connected to Hillary now,” says Melissa Stafford, a 25-year-old with pixie-cut hair who works at a “reproductive-health nonprofit” and lives in Maryland. Stafford interned for Clinton’s 2008 primary campaign, which did not go so well, but she thinks things would be different this time, because “the real Hillary has come out. People have a better sense of who she is.”
Stafford's friend Jennifer Cyr, a fundraiser for Democrats in Congress, adds: “People used to have a real strong either-or reaction to her, like a cat. You know, people either love cats or they hate cats. But now she has more street cred. Although there are still plenty of haters.”
Stafford and Cyr both got over their disappointment at Hillary losing the primary and voted for Barack Obama twice. They think he has done a fine job. Although: “I think Hillary would have done a better job, honestly,” Cyr says. “I think a lot of the mistakes he’s made were due to inexperience and not understanding Washington. She wouldn’t have that problem.”