She's not a presidential candidate yet but Hillary Clinton is already starting to pile up the endorsements.
Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill Tuesday added her support to a growing roster of Democratic activists pushing the former secretary of state to make another bid for the White House in 2016. The nudge gives Clinton a marquee, swing-state backer and could be an early glimpse at a major source of support for any potential campaign -- Democratic women in the U.S. Senate.
McCaskill announced her support for Clinton on the website of the group "Ready for Hillary," a super PAC which has looked to build grassroots fervor for a potential Clinton candidacy in 2016. The group is not tied directly to Clinton but has been aggressive in gathering support for a potential candidacy.
Larry Downing / Reuters file
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., speaks about pending legislation regarding sexual assaults in the military at a Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 4, 2013.
"Hillary Clinton had to give up her political operation while she was making us proud, representing us around the world as an incredible Secretary of State, and that’s why Ready for Hillary is so critical,” McCaskill said in a statement. “It’s important that we start early, building a grassroots army from the ground up, and effectively using the tools of the Internet – all things that President Obama did so successfully – so that if Hillary does decide to run, we’ll be ready to help her win.”
Speculation has grown in recent weeks about Clinton's political future. Just weeks after stepping down as Obama's Secretary of State, she started to re-enter public life. While she has been deliberately coy about her intentions in 2016, Clinton launched a Twitter account last week teasing her "to be determined" future plans. Her profile reads: "Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD..."
And in a major new policy push, she outlined new initiatives involving access to education and advancing women's issues at last week's "Clinton Global Initiative," another nod at her unique position as the most high-profile woman in American politics.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks about holding onto the core belief of the American dream while speaking Thursday in Chicago.
While she has endured criticism from Republicans over last fall's terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya in which four Americans were killed, Clinton received a rare send-off from the president when she left office that included a joint interview that some observers saw as a passing-of-the-torch moment.
McCaskill is one of 16 Democratic women serving in the Senate, many of them representing key swing states like Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Minnesota. Regarded as a relative moderate, McCaskill won re-election to her second term in 2012. Though Missouri has trended slightly toward Republicans in recent statewide and presidential elections, it is still considered a "swing state" in relative terms — a state whose 10 electoral votes are important to winning an election.
McCaskill's early support for Clinton is even more noteworthy for the fact that she was an early supporter of Barack Obama's during the 2008 Democratic primary versus Clinton. The Missouri senator's support for Clinton reflects the manner in which a number of Obama supporters have now turned their sentiments to Clinton, who served as Obama's top diplomat during his first term.
This story was originally published on Tue Jun 18, 2013 8:29 AM EDT